By Charlize Alcaraz, Alexandra Holyk and Heidi Lee
There are 14 candidates from various faculties running for three available student representative positions on Ryerson’s Board of Governors (BoG) in this year’s elections.
Members of the BoG are in charge of overseeing all major financial decisions and those concerning the university’s operations within their budget. They are the “final gateway a policy [must] pass through before it comes into effect at Ryerson,” according to current BoG student representatives MJ Wright, David Jardine and Tay Rubman.
BoG student representatives don’t create or propose changes. Instead, they listen to the ideas and proposals brought forward to the BoG, ask questions and decide whether or not to vote in favour of them.
The Eyeopener spoke with four out of this year’s 14 candidates to hear more about their platforms.
Hiba Al-Jarrah, second-year biomedical sciences
The name of Al-Jarrah’s campaign is Students First, as she is “first and foremost for the students,” she said.
“I stand with the students, I am for the students…any decisions the board of governors will make, if I have an ability to vote on that, I will vote with the students’ best interest at heart,” said Al-Jarrah.
Al-Jarrah said she wants to advocate for more employment opportunities for students by cultivating business partnerships between the university and private sector companies.
She added that she thinks Ryerson has “room for improvement” when it comes to providing students with more job opportunities, and that the university can do better in supporting their international students.
As an international student herself, Al-Jarrah said she understands the perils of international student tuition rates.
“Reducing [tuition fees] is a very complex process, especially when you are trying to address it with the university,” she said. Additionally, she plans to offset high tuition costs with more scholarship opportunity.
To achieve that, Al-Jarrah said the university could reach out to philanthropists and businesses to create more scholarships and make them accessible to students.
She also promises to advocate for more mental health resources and accessibility to counsellors, and address systemic issues at Ryerson.
When asked about whether she would advocate for the removal of the Egerton Ryerson statue, Al-Jarrah said she will, as the statue does not represent equality.
“I think students at Ryerson should feel safe and should feel that this is a place that does not endorse that kind of person,” she said.
Jordan Goldenberg, second-year global management studies
Once elected, Goldenberg wants to campaign for greater transparency and accountability within the university. He also describes the position as being a liaison between the board, Ryerson’s administration, faculty and the student body.
“I don’t want to be one of three who’s involved in the decision making process for 40,000. I want to be one of three who is going into the meetings with information and with insights from the 40,000,” said Goldenberg.
He also said that if he’s elected to the position, he will hold regular town halls with the student body to make sure students feel and understand that they have a voice in the decision-making process as well.
The town hall meetings would include all three of the student representatives on the board and would be open to anyone in the university to come and ask questions. The student representatives would present the information that was discussed in previous BoG meetings and what plans and events they have coming up.
“I definitely think that, with everyone working together and everyone getting insights from everyone else, we can really do great things.”
Cameron McCoy, first-year master of planning
McCoy pointed said that, as the highest governing body of the university with control over financial matters as well as decisions affecting student life, the BoG should be more considerate of students facing financial hardship amidst the pandemic.
“I think a lot of students are starting to realize we’re paying a lot of fees for services that we’re not able to access,” said McCoy, referring to the mandatory athletics and building fees included in students’ tuition this year. “The university needs to be more aware and more flexible towards certain needs during this time.”
If elected, McCoy said the main focus of his role on the BoG will be restructuring the student fees to prevent students from paying for services they’re unable to use.
McCoy also mentioned that his experience in student politics during his undergraduate degree at MacEwan University in Edmonton between 2011 and 2015. He said he is looking forward to connecting with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) in order to increase student engagement and awareness of the governing bodies on campus.
“I assume that [the RSU is]…the most tuned in to what’s going on with students,” said McCoy. He added that he would hold town halls for students to voice their concerns and maintain a strong online presence on social media to connect with the student body.
Kian Rastegar, first-year law
Rastegar said a passion project of his is to set up a legal clinic at Ryerson where students can get legal advice on “various things.”
“From my personal experience, I faced some issues where navigating the bureaucracy [and] certain aspects of the system would be very difficult,” he said. “I don’t want that to be the case for other people.”
He added that the legal clinic would be run by professional lawyers, though he also hopes to have student volunteers involved in the process to gain experience.
For Rastegar, another issue he wants to address is students’ mental health. He said online classes have “taken a toll on” students’ well-being.
“There’s a lot of discussion on how people are not a fan of [online learning], but this is something we have to put up with,” said Rastegar. “In order to deal with it, we have to practice proper self-care and take care of ourselves mentally and physically.”
Rastegar said there is also a need for greater transparency and communication with the school’s finances. “I would love to take the initiative to summarize the minutes [and] financial report so everybody is able to see what is going on.”
He said a centralized hub of information could be created to improve communication between the school and students.
Here is the list of remaining candidates running to be student representatives on the BoG:
Seyed Amir Hossein Dehnadi
Sheikh Abid Rahman