By The News Team
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) elections wrapped up last week, with team Refresh sweeping all six executive positions. The team will take office May 1, signalling the end of what can only be described as a hectic year for the union (remember those credit card statements?)
The Eyeopener talked to some of the new executives to learn more about what students can expect from their first month in office.
Within their first week in office, the new exec team will hire a general manager, incoming president Vanessa Henry said.
“We think it’s really important for oversight and holding ourselves accountable,” she said.
She also said she’ll support continuing the forensic audit into the RSU’s finances.
Her team also wants to create a live budget that will be updated bi-weekly, she said. Executives will submit expenses and their weekly work hours. It will be the vice-president operations’ responsibility to update the budget spreadsheet.
Joshua Wiggins, the incoming vice-president student life and events, said that during their first 30 days they want to collectively look at the budget and make sure they know what what they are prioritizing.
Student Choice Initiative
The RSU will work with the presidents of course unions to present a united front against the Student Choice Initiative or ancillary fee opt-out, Henry said. She also plans to work with other Toronto schools and take direct action by organizing protests and setting up meetings with politicians.
But she doesn’t think her team will be impacted by the opt-out system as the initiative hasn’t been enforced in legislation yet.
Henry said it’s unrealistic to assume the May budget will be the budget for the whole year. She said in September the RSU will have a better idea of their budget. They will be cautious with money throughout the summer and wouldn’t plan any big events, she said, adding orientation is funded internally through the university.
Incoming vice-president education Kwaku Agyemang said that he believes there is a three-part approach to the Student Choice Initiative. It will include “seeing where funds need to be allocated, educating students on the importance of a students’ union [and seeing] where we can find other funding and partnerships for students,” he said.
Incoming vice-president equity Naja Pereira echoed similar ideas, saying she believes educating students on the services the RSU provides could help encourage them to remain opted-in.
Pereira said she has started meeting with Equity Service Centre coordinators this week to assess what kind of support the staff need before she starts in May.
“I [want to be] prepared for all of the questions, concerns, comments [and] fears that staff do have coming into the new year, with budget cuts as well,” she said.
Pereira said she wants to begin her term by compiling two lists for students: one concerning accessible venues for students off-campus, and the other on grants, scholarships and bursaries for marginalized students.
“I [want to] lay the groundwork for that and [make] sure the lists are up as soon as possible,” she said.
Henry said she wants to hold weekly training sessions for executives and board members to learn about RSU bylaws.
“The first month would ideally just be training, and understanding our roles as executives going in and as board members, as well as just setting up all of the committees,” she said.
Agyemang said he has spoken to staff at Ryerson’s Tri-Mentoring Program and wants to create an initiative to connect leaders and students in an established mentorship network.
“[My plan] is to partner with programs like Tri-Mentoring to establish a program where students are able to have the space to express their interests and where they want to work, and to be connected to career mentors, employers, Ryerson alumni and leaders in the industry,” he said.
Increasing accessibility of board meetings
Incoming vice-president marketing Victoria Anderson-Gardner said her team wants to make board meetings more accessible to students.
She said because attending board meetings in person might not be accessible for all students, she’ll live stream the meetings. She also said she would post the full meeting minutes and a summarized version on the RSU’s website.
“As the exec team, we will do our best to ensure that we are accessible to the students to communicate any questions or concerns in a reasonable amount of time,” she told The Eye in a statement.
Outreach about RSU services
Anderson-Gardner also said within her first 30 days she hopes to update the RSU’s website with any information about student services that might be missing and talk to students to research what services students are aware of to see what needs to be improved and what students want to see implemented.