The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) is planning to restructure its graduate council this spring to enhance support for graduate students according to the graduate representative director.
In 2017, a graduate board member presented a motion to establish a union for graduate students. Former RSU president Susanne Nyaga worked with the graduate union’s organizing committee and the union was meant to launch by September of this year, as reported by The Eye.
The proposed union would have been separate from the RSU; however, this plan has been scrapped. The new focus is to restructure the RSU and the graduate council, said Amber Grant, the deputy chairperson education for the graduate council of the RSU.
The current graduate council is a part of the RSU and represents all graduate students at Ryerson. Its goal is to set the direction of advocacy and social initiatives for graduate students according to the RSU website.
“I have been actively involved in the process of not separating from the RSU,” said Grant. “We are working on restructuring the [council] so graduate students have more voice, financial responsibility, and decision-making power.”
“Graduate matters will be voted on and governed by graduate students, instead of undergraduate students”
Grant said she is supportive of a union but it would not be attainable. “We currently do not have a large enough graduate student body to be able to financially or logistically sustain our own union.”
RSU president Maklane deWever confirmed that the graduate council is still going to be a part of the RSU.
Although the proposed union was supposed to launch the past September, Grant said she hopes the restructuring of the graduate council will finish by the end of April.
In the fall 2017 term, there were over 35,000 domestic undergraduate students and under 3,000 domestic graduate students, according to Ryerson’s population statistics.
Grant said the restructuring will better represent the interests of graduate students by establishing a graduate board separate from the RSU’s Board of Directors. There will be director and executive positions offered, which will not be paid.
“Graduate matters will be voted on and governed by graduate students, instead of undergraduate students,” said Grant.
Currently, there are 38 undergraduate students, and only two graduate students in the Board of Directors.
DeWever, supports restructuring the graduate council, and says that “the ability to have services more specific to graduate students is better because of the value [it] can provide.”