By Alexandra Holyk
The Ryerson Undergraduate Students’ Alliance (RUSA) and Ryerson Graduate Students’ Union (RGSU) are the two new student structures to represent undergraduate and graduate students at Ryerson.
Process officer Lianne Newman confirmed in an email to The Eyeopener that the RUSA and RGSU were successful following students casting their votes this week.
According to Simply Voting’s election results provided by Newman, RUSA crossed the 596 minimum voter-threshold—which is 50 per cent of all votes cast in the undergraduate ballot. In addition, there were 331 votes to implement a the RGSU.
The results are expected to be published publicly on the RU Next Gov site later today.
Winning undergraduate proposal described
The RUSA focuses on a similar structure to that of the RSU, however, its internal policies were changed to “ensure accountability and transparency for students,” said David Jardine, the student who was previously behind the proposal.
Jardine dropped out of the campaign shortly before the election due to concerns for their mental health, however, RUSA remained on the voting ballot for students.
Some of the planned policy 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.
A governing body for graduate students
Graduate unions will finally have a union that represents them. This comes after attempts to form a graduate students’ union after the original plan put forward in 2017 fell through.
The RGSU was 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,” said Amber Grant, one of the team members.
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.
“It has always been clear that the needs of graduate students are entirely different than those of undergraduate students,” Grant said.
Next steps for student government
Members of the RUSA and RGSU were expected to organize another election for students running for executive positions based on the team’s structure. However, Newman confirmed in an email to The Eye that lead process officer Ian Brennan will oversee the elections in early April.
Newman also said students that submitted the proposal are allowed to run for the executive positions as part of their student government structure.
There will be two separate elections: one for the undergraduate student government and another for the graduate students’ union.
More to come.