Proposals for student government explained

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By Alexandra Holyk

After the termination of the agreement between the university and the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), vice-provost, students Jen McMillen announced the development of a new student government based on proposals submitted by students.

According to process manager Lianne Newman, students will vote on a new government structure online on March 4-5. Results will be announced on March 6—the same day as the court injunction between the university and the RSU.

The winning team is required to conduct general elections for students who wish to run for executive positions in early April.

In McMillen’s statement on Feb. 20, she said that six proposals for a new student government were put forward. Newman confirmed that although six proposals were submitted, only four were approved by the lead process officer and the Student Government Selection Committee. The others were missing required information, according to an email Newman sent to The Eyeopener.

In order for their proposal to be approved, students had to submit several elements, including how they would hold themselves financially accountable to the membership and provide written support from 10 current Ryerson students signing on as prospective members of their teams.

Here are the submitted and approved proposals:

Ryerson Undergraduate Students’ Alliance (RUSA)

Proposed by David Jardine

RUSA’s structure is similar to that of the RSU, however, its internal policies were changed to “ensure accountability and transparency for students,” Jardine said. Some of the key changes include: lower director honorariums and an overhauled budget process to ensure student money is “going where we want it to.” Executives will be paid on an hourly basis and there will be fewer full-time staff positions.

According to Jardine, these changes will save “over $400,000” to support student services and groups.

“Our structure puts students first”

RUSA will also require meetings between executive members and their corresponding departments at the university. Jardine said this structure gives Ryerson the chance to be involved in discussions with the students’ union. The union will still be independent from the university and advocate for students’ rights and autonomy. “Our structure puts students first,” Jardine added.

Ryerson First

Proposed by Anoop Dhillon, Tanvir Billah, James Polvorosa, Marta Wisniewski, Mihai Lungu, Harman Sondhi

Ryerson First proposes to “eliminate executive salaries,” adding they will be implementing a “performance-based tuition bursary” that will depend on the cost of one year’s tuition across Ontario universities. Executives will be required to meet “performance metrics” in order to receive the bursary at the end of the academic year. Dhillon said this will save the student government $500,000-600,000 per year.

The team also plans to make course unions, student groups and the Equity Service Centres autonomous. Ryerson First plans to give them their own set of by-laws and framework.

“We’re taking the power that was at the executive level and delegating it down to the lower levels,” Dhillon said.

Ryerson First said it will also ban executive credit cards, publicize all expense accounts and conduct mandatory third-party financial audits every year.

There will be a Board of Governors made up of six domestic students, one international student and two alumni members. The Senate would be comprised of different representatives of course unions and Equity Service Centres.

They also plan to elect two senate members from the media “so they aren’t fighting us for information,” Dhillon said.

“We want to make sure we retain our power to negotiate with Ryerson…and [gain back] the trust of students,” said Dhillon.

Milad Moghaddas is no longer a part of Ryerson First after removing themselves from the organization.

Ryerson Graduate Students’ Union (RGSU)

Proposed by Amber Grant, Angelique Bernabe, Charlotte Ferworn and Alicia Kassee

The RGSU is the only proposed structure specifically for graduate students. “We hope to finally provide a space—literally and metaphorically—for graduate students to come together and support each other,” Grant said.

According to Grant, the RGSU will have four executive positions filled by graduate students—president, vice-president operations, vice-president education and research and vice-president student life and events. There will also be seven Board of Directors members and a part-time general manager.

“It has always been clear that the needs of graduate students are entirely different than those of undergraduate students”

The team said it hopes to work with the university and advocate for graduate students and communicate their needs to Ryerson’s administration.

Currently, the RSU represents all full-time undergraduate and graduate students. The Eye previously reported that there was an attempt to form a graduate students’ union in 2017, however, the plan was scrapped.

According to Ryerson PhD candidate Peter Haastrup, Ryerson is one of the only universities in Ontario that does not have a graduate students’ union.

“It has always been clear that the needs of graduate students are entirely different than those of undergraduate students,” Grant said.

Ryerson University Student Collective (RUSC)

Proposed by Joshin Marriott, Johnson Le, Jacob Circo and Fahim Khan

RUSC is focused on equity, diversity and inclusion and plans to work with the university to provide students with services, communication and a sense of community. “It is our duty to cultivate an environment that advocates, supports and protects students’ integrity, academic progress and good faith in Ryerson University,” The team stated.

Their goal is “to collaborate everyone’s concerns around accountability and transparency” by implementing an oversight and audit committee. RUSC said it plans to include representatives from the RUSC, from Ryerson University, an external financial expert, student societies, course unions and groups.

RUSC will have six executive positions and 25 members on the Board of Directors.

“We want to be a student organization that will reinforce core values such as reliability, resourcefulness and stability for all students in their overall experiences at Ryerson University,” Marriott stated in an email to The Eye.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Ryerson First proposal’s plan to eliminate executive salaries will save approximately $500-600.

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