RSU’s last BoD meeting approves new operating agreement, additional equity centre and five-year strategic plan

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By Alexandra Holyk, Libaan Osman and Heidi Lee

On Tuesday evening, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) virtual Board of Directors (BoD) meeting passed motions for a new equity centre, the adoption of a five-year strategic plan and the approval of a new operating agreement with the university.

Executive director Reanna Maharaj announced that Priya Paul, who was filling in for the union’s now-former financial controller, Dharshini Jay, has now permanently taken over the role. Paul was introduced back in October 2019 due to Jay being on maternity leave. Maharaj stated on Tuesday that Jay was let go and reasons for her termination will remain confidential.

“Priya’s done a lot of great work for us, especially…with our termination and everything that the university demanded, so it was only fitting that she was offered the position,” Maharaj said. 

Here’s what else happened at the RSU’s last BoD meeting of the year:

Motion to adopt the SHIFT centre as an additional Equity Service Centre: PASSED

The BoD voted in favour of adding the SHIFT (Share Help Inspire Foster Think) centre as an eighth Equity Service Centre under the RSU.

Created this year by RSU president Vanessa Henry, SHIFT is a mental health and wellness space that provides students with an opportunity to connect with others in the Ryerson community. 

The motion also stated the centre will continue to be located on the third floor of the Student Campus Centre (SCC) because it serves all students, whereas the second floor of the SCC building acts as a safe space specifically for marginalized students. 

The incoming vice-president equity will be taking on the role of supervising the SHIFT centre’s staff. Equity centre campaigns organizer Ruben Perez is also expected to help. 

Both parties will be responsible for meeting on a weekly basis to ensure the centre is run smoothly.

“[Ruben] had no problem adding that to his portfolio,” said vice-president equity Melania Tryhub. “He’s on the third floor connecting with the [vice-president] equity as well and there’s not that disconnect between the second and third floor.”

The budget of the SHIFT centre will be conducted separately from the other equity service centres and will be capped at $11,000 annually. It will include staff wages, operations and programming.

Motion to implement a five-year strategic plan for the RSU: PASSED

The five-year plan introduced by the 2019-20 RSU executives, BoD and staff will be the first of its kind, since the students’ union currently has no long-term plan in place. 

The motion also states the plan will focus on enhancing the governance structure, controls and increases revenue of the students’ union. It will be adopted from 2020-25 and the 2024-25 executive team is expected to create a new five-year strategic plan for their forthcoming term. 

“I think [the five-year plan] is something that has been needed for the RSU for more than a decade,” Henry said in an interview with The Eyeopener. “We need other sources of revenue besides student levies, so it’s creatively thinking of a five-year plan to increase our revenue.”

Motion to approve new operating agreement: PASSED

The new operating agreement, between the union and Ryerson, will replace the previous contract that existed between the two parties. The previous 1986 Operating Agreement recognized the RSU as the official student governing body and allowed the university to collect student levies and transfer them to the RSU.

The 1986 Operating Agreement was terminated on Jan. 24 after the RSU failed to conduct a forensic audit, share it with the university and renegotiate the agreement with Ryerson. After the RSU won its injunction against the university, the 1986 Operating Agreement was temporarily put back into place. 

Motion to approve revised Student Group Policy: PASSED

The revision to the Student Group Policy included prohibiting any student groups connected to fraternities or sororities. 

Joshua Wiggins, vice-president student life and events, said the reasoning behind the revision was that it went against the union’s equity policies as the membership of fraternities and sororities is based on gender only.

“The RSU has never had it clearly listed in any policy in print before so the student group committee felt that it needed to be added as a new group policy,” said Wiggins.

He said this new policy stops fraternities and sororities from forming student groups under the RSU and collaborating with other fraternities and sororities. However, this policy does not affect individuals who are associated with fraternities/sororities. 

The next meeting will be the RSU’s Annual General Meeting, which is expected to be held by the new executive team, according to Henry.

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