Here’s what happened at the March RSU board of directors meeting

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By Sherina Harris and Emma Sandri

At an almost four-hour-long Board of Directors (BoD) meeting, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) pushed forward numerous motions to their spring Annual General Meeting (AGM), where students can vote on motions.

The 2019 election results were ratified, a sustainability policy was sent back to a committee and the BoD’s size could see a substantial cut in size.

Here’s what else you missed.

Motion to remove vice-president marketing position—passed, moved to AGM

The vice-president marketing position was ratified at the RSU’s Semi-Annual General Meeting in November.  At the BoD meeting, directors voted to move a motion that would remove the position, effective 2020-21, to the AGM.

Like other executive positions, the vice-president marketing would be paid $36,000 per year.

Victoria Anderson-Gardner, who was elected as the RSU’s first vice-president marketing for the 2019-20 year, told The Eye she has no comment on this at this time.

RSU president Maklane deWever said the motion should be for the 2019 year as the election results hadn’t been ratified at that point in the meeting, which would remove Anderson-Gardner from the executive. However, the chair Daniel Lis said they would not be changing that.

Motion to reduce campaign expenses—passed, moved to AGM

Another motion moved through to the RSU’s AGM was one to reduce the amount that executives and directors can spend while campaigning. The total number for executives would be brought down to $250 from $500, and the total amount for directors would be $100.

“Our elections are very expensive,” said deWever, who put forward the motion.

Jamie Fotak, a Faculty of Arts director who ran in this year’s RSU election, said no team used their full budget this time. The updated numbers would align with what teams actually spent, he said.

Motion to reduce board size—passed, moved to AGM  

The motion would decrease the size of the board by about one-third, according to vice-president equity Karolina Surowiec.

DeWever put forward the motion.

Following multiple amendments to the original motion, the proposed changes include requiring a minimum of two directors per faculty and preventing the largest faculty from having more than the combined number of directors of the two smallest faculties.

This change—if approved at the AGM—would take place the year after next, deWever said.

“There has been board inflation, so our board keeps getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “If we don’t stop it, it will include everyone at Ryerson.”

The number of directors per faculty is decided in accordance with how many students are in the faculty. There are 1,100 students to every director for a faculty.

In general, the board would have around five directors from Ted Rogers School of Management, three directors from the faculties of Arts, communication and design,  community services and engineering, architecture and science as well as two directors from the faculty of science.

Motion for ‘easier impeachment’—passed, moved to AGM

Brought forward by deWever, the motion notes that it is “nearly impossible” to impeach a director or an executive at the RSU.

If passed at the AGM, the motion would require that only two thirds of the directors present need to vote in favour of an impeachment for it to pass. Previously, a two-thirds majority was needed from the whole number of directors—including those absent from a meeting.

“This makes it not as difficult to impeach people so people are going to behave better,“ said deWever.  

Other changes in the motion include allowing directors to call in remotely and be counted as present at a BoD meeting, disregarding abstentions from the final tally of votes and removing directors from their position by a two-thirds majority vote of those present if they fail to attend two regularly scheduled meetings without previous notice.

Banning executive-director slates—passed, moved to AGM

The board passed a motion to be voted on at the AGM that would ban faculty directors from running in slates with executive candidates.

Instead, candidates for the BoD could run on slates within their own faculties, but not across faculties. The executive team could also form slates, but could not include directors on their slates or endorse directors.

DeWever said getting rid of slates would make the elections more accessible to students and “open up democracy” at Ryerson.

He also noted that at the University of Toronto (U of T), where slates were banned, there are no candidates running for three executive positions in the upcoming student union election. Having slates could increase coordination so every position is filled, he said.

“This is the furthest this union has ever got to slate reform in a long time,” Lis, former RSU vice-president education, said following the passing of the amendment that formed the final motion.

Motion to create a graduate student union—passed, moved to AGM

The graduate student union would be a restructured version of the current graduate student council, according to Amber Grant, deputy chair of education at the RSU.

In town halls and online surveys, graduate students submitted feedback that they wanted to be autonomous from the RSU, have more graduate-specific events and more grants and scholarships.

The union’s president and executives wouldn’t be paid.

The grad student union would pay 17 per cent of their budget toward part- and full-time RSU staff, as well as the equity service centres. It would be the same legal entity as the RSU.

Motion to create a mental health and wellbeing committee—passed, moved to AGM

According to the motion, the standing committee would be tasked with “furthering the mental health and wellness interests of the Union.” This includes advocacy work regarding mental health and the eradication of stigma surrounding the topic.  

“It’s a really important thing to discuss because I guarantee at least half the board probably faces mental health issues,” Surowiec said.

“It is the students’ union job to support 40,000 plus [students] and offer services to students who may be struggling with mental health,” reads the motion.

DeWever noted that in light of a student dying by suicide at U of T, as reported by The Varisty last week, mental health needs to be addressed.

“Mental health is a crisis on campus. Given what went on at U of T, this is really important because something’s wrong on campus, we need to fix it. It’s not OK,” deWever said.

Motion to create a sustainability policy—brought to sustainability committee

This motion to add a sustainability policy to the RSU’s policy manual had been tabled a number of times in the past, according to senate representative Fahim Khan, who moved it.

Khan said sustainability “isn’t being incorporated in our curriculum to the extent that it should be,” noting as an engineering student he had barely learned about it.

He noted that advocacy is one of the RSU’s main pillars, but said this has fallen behind because the RSU has been so focused on events and concerts.

The policy touches on food, water, procurement, public transit and waste management, Khan said.

DeWever said although he is also passionate about sustainability, parts of the policy—such as hiring two part-time staff members—may not be feasible given how the RSU could be impacted if students choose to opt-out of paying the membership fee.

A motion was passed to refer the policy to the RSU’s sustainability committee, after which upon the committee’s directive it would be referred back to the board.

Athletic Grant Transfer of Funds—passed

A motion passed to transfer funds to Athletic Grants, after there was a shortfall of funding for groups on campus.

“To pay for all the people [the athletics committee]  promised to pay…[we have] to take money out of the New York trip budget,” said Faculty of Community Services director Chelsea Davenport, referring to money leftover from the RSU’s reading week trip.

Board members present asked the executive how much money was left in the trip’s budget and whether it was enough to pay off the overages. The executive confirmed it was but said they didn’t know the specific amount leftover.

Ryerson TOgether approved as a student group

Finally ratified as an official student group, Ryerson TOgether works to bring awareness to youth experiencing homelessness.

The group has taken part in multiple fundraisers for the issue already this year and has partnered with missions within the city.

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