UPDATE: Campaigning begins for structure of new student government, voting to follow

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By Alexandra Holyk and Madi Wong

Over the next week, four student teams will be campaigning with their proposals for Ryerson’s new student government structure

This comes after the university announced the termination of the agreement between Ryerson and the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) on Jan. 24.

Vice-provost, students Jen McMillen stated on Feb. 20 that six proposals for a new student government were put forward. 

But process manager Lianne Newman told The Eyeopener that only four of the six submitted proposals were approved by the lead process officer (LPO) and Student Government Selection Committee (SGSC). 

The SGSC is made up of four current Ryerson students, including former RSU vice-president education Daniel Lis.

In an interview with The Eyeopener, McMillen said when making the decision to implement a new student government and selecting the SGSC that “this is not an anti-RSU process.”

The four submitted and approved proposals include the Ryerson Undergraduate Students’ Alliance, Ryerson First, Ryerson Graduate Students’ Union and the Ryerson University Student Collective. 

“We were not part of any of those deliberations. We are not part of the conversation,” McMillen said about the submitted proposals. “[The SGSC, process officer and LPO] developed and posted a rubric…on how they were going to evaluate the proposals that came in.” 

The four teams are expected to campaign over the next week leading into March 4 and 5—the days that students can cast their votes using an online forum. The results are expected to be announced on March 6—which is also the same day as the court injunction between Ryerson and the RSU. 

McMillen said that the results of the student government being announced on the same day as the RSU’s court injunction was not tied to the university’s timeline and was instead “coincidental.”

How campaigning will work

Throughout the next week, teams will speak to students about their proposed structures, put up posters and advertise on social media, give out merchandise and provide information on the voting process.

Teams are not allowed to explicitly ask students to “vote for our proposal,” according to a list of campaign rules and requirements provided by Newman to The Eye.

They are only permitted to spend up to $200—provided by the LPO—on social media advertisements on Facebook and Instagram, merchandise and posters. 

The rules also restrict students from accepting donations and using external funding, including the Canadian Federation of Students, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the Canadian Alliance of Students’ Associations.

Friends cannot volunteer to take pictures or videos and only Ryerson student volunteers are able to put up posters as long as they have their One Card on them at all times.

Students also are not able to make classroom visits or give out free food while campaigning.

How voting will work

According to Newman, the voting process will occur over March 4 and 5 online and in-person at computer polling stations across campus. Only full-time undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in the university are eligible to vote.

Online voting through Simply Voting will open at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 4 and close at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 5.

Student can vote in person on March 4 and 5 in the Rogers Communications Centre (RCC) lobby and on the second floor of the Sheldon & Tracy Levy Student Learning Centre (SLC) just before the library entrance. In-person voting will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on both days.

No minimum voter turnout is required to validate the selection process. This means that regardless of the number of students that participate in the election, the results will be final unless otherwise noted by the university.

The ballot method will be determined by the number of campaigns participating in the election.

More than one representing the student body? 

In an interview with The Eye, McMillen said there is “potential” to have more than one governing body that represents Ryerson students.

She mentioned the separate graduate students’ union that was previously proposed at the RSU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in April 2019—which was passed.

“[It] was already a process and being talked about in a friendly way with the RSU,” McMillen said. 

The motion to create a graduate students union was first introduced at the RSU’s April 2017 Board of Directors meeting. The idea behind it was to create a separate executive board and restructure the graduate council within the RSU.

The original plan was to have the graduate council as a separate entity from the RSU, but that plan was scrapped to focus more on restructuring the role of the graduate council already within the RSU. 

“I think people recognize that there’s some opportunity…but that will be for students to determine,” said McMillen.

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