By Heidi Lee
Two Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) directors and a Faculty of Arts (FoA) director have resigned from the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) Board of Directors (BoD) over controversies surrounding the elected “Adapt” slate in the 2021-22 RSU elections.
Third-year journalism student Mercedes Gaztambide-Spillane, third-year professional communication student Sonia Bragança and second-year philosophy student Sarah Ahmed announced their resignations on Friday through posts on their Instagram accounts.
In her statement, Gaztambide-Spillane said the decision was made after learning of the “elected officials and their approach to this election,” referring to allegations that team Adapt pressured students into voting for their slate using contact information from the RSU’s Food Box program, breaching students’ privacy.
“I cannot subject myself to the potential torment of leaders who have proven that they aren’t in it to protect their students. The RSU has, once again, failed us—and I will not be complacent,” wrote Gaztambide.
Gaztambide said that if she were to stay in the position, she would have “very little negotiating power” and would be “legally limited from speaking out” against things she disagreed with.
She added that by resigning, she will have more freedom to “fight for students” and hold the RSU accountable.
She said students should “hold this board accountable, to follow the money trail and recognize when the corrupt is being covered.”
In Bragança’s resignation statement, she wrote “after hearing the issues with the elected Adapt team,” she does not feel comfortable “being a part of their RSU.”
“I want to hold them accountable and the best way to do that is by resigning and supporting students calling for a new students’ union,” she wrote.
Ahmed also stated that she didn’t believe she could work with the RSU’s BoD, which consists of a majority of members from the Adapt slate, who she alleges “unethically cheated through the elections” and wouldn’t be “held accountable for their actions.”
“Through everything that happened during elections, from some of my team members being harassed online, students being scared of losing access to certain services if they don’t vote for certain candidates and the disrespect from Adapt members took a big toll on my mental health,” wrote Ahmed.
She added that with only five directors elected to the BoD from her slate, “For the Students,” she doesn’t believe she would have “enough power and the mental capacity” to fight for what they promised the student body.
Gaztambide, Bragança and Ahmed stated that a by-election will be held to fill the vacant positions.
The remaining directors from “For the Students” are FoA director Sharif Van Uum and FCAD director Olivia McLeod.
This story will be updated with a comment from RSU president Siddhanth Satish, as well as information on the RSU’s plans to hold by-elections for new directors.