By Raneem Alozzi
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) board voted in favour of a harm reduction club’s appeal of the RSU’s initial decision to decline their group official status earlier this year during the Oct. 25 meeting.
The Board of Directors (BoD) also passed a motion to amend bylaws create a sixth executive position on the executive governance team as well as an Indigenous student representative position on the board.
Harm reduction club gets affiliate group status
The Ryerson University chapter of the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) appealed the RSU’s decision to deny the group official affiliate student group status in August.
The CSSDP is a national group with chapters on 18 campuses across the country. The organization pushes for harm reduction and prevention at universities, educating student communities on science-based evidence surrounding drug use and reforming drug policies on a campus level.
During her presentation at the BoD, Alannah Fricker, president of the CSSDP at Ryerson, said the university’s student population is affected by the opioid crisis just like any other community in Toronto, so it’s vital the RSU and CSSDP collaborate.
She said that hours before the board meeting she received a call that one of her closest friends had died of an overdose. Fricker said she considered not attending the appeal given the situation but decided to come knowing this would be the way to move forward.
BoD member Maklane Dewever is speaking in support of the group. He says this group has done lots of research, they prepared an extensive presentation and have a ton of support from other groups. “Students lives are at risk,” he says
— Maggie Macintosh (@macintoshmaggie) October 25, 2018
Vice-President Student Life and Events Edmund Sofo said the group displayed irresponsibility when they set up a table without permission or RSU affiliation during welcome week in September.
“When we look to what a student group is…in terms of following the rules and responsibilities, we keep a standard,” Sofo said. He later on abstained from voting on their appeal.
The motion to ratify the club, which was well received by several directors, passed with a majority vote, with no votes against and three abstentions.
Two motions passed to amend RSU bylaws to allow the union to potentially create two new student positions in the future.
A motion to create the executive position of vice-president communications was motioned by RSU president Ram Ganesh.
Ganesh said the RSU needs the position to better communicate with people internally and to communicate with students to let them know the student union exists on campus.
Another amendment motioned by Vice-President equity Karolina Surowiec will create an Indigenous student representative. The student will be recommended by the Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services, the department that will be responsible for nominating candidates and electing them.
Both bylaw amendments will be presented to the public at the upcoming Semi-Annual General Meeting (SAGM). The SAGM will take place on Nov. 28.
New student groups
The Visual Artists Association, the French Club and Data Works were all ratified as official student groups during the meeting.
The French Club is a group intended to offer students of any level of fluency a space to come together to learn and improve their French speaking and listening skills. Some of the events they have planned will include French board game gatherings, movie nights and even a scavenger hunt—tout en Français.
The Visual Artists Association is a group aiming to promote visual art in the Ryerson community and in Toronto. Inspired by Toronto and the campus art scene, the group hopes to create a space for students to express themselves and build on their resumes and in their careers. The event is planning events like art workshops in different mediums and excursions to art galleries to give students a better understanding of art in their city.
Data Works is a group intended to foster a community where students can come together to work and learn about how data works. They have planned with business groups to create workshops and will also be working with Ryerson’s Career hub.
New board representatives
A number of new board positions were approved during the meeting.
The BoD ratified the recent byelection results, approving James Fotak as faculty of arts director and Sreeraj Nair as the deputy chairperson finance.
The BoD’s current international representative, Divyansh Chandel, was elected as the new commissioner on the Student Groups Committee and Course Union Committee.
Angélique Bernabe was elected chairperson and Alicia Kassee was elected deputy chairperson student life and events for the Graduate Representative Committee.
Dorin Kean and Viplav Naik were also ratified as representatives on the RSU Athletics Committee for the rest of the academic year.