RSU ratifies interim Faculty of Arts director, other Adapt members at May BoD meeting

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By Sarah Tomlinson, Heidi Lee and Thea Gribilas

At the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) Board of Directors’ (BoD) meeting on May 28, motions were passed to ratify commissioners, committee members and an interim Faculty of Arts director. 

Hafsa Ghasamzaei, who ran in the 2021-22 RSU elections as a candidate with the Adapt slate, was ratified as the interim Faculty of Arts director from May to August 2021. 

This comes after former Faculty of Arts director and second-year philosophy student Sarah Ahmed resigned from the RSU earlier this month, citing election controversies as the reason for her resignation. Two Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) directors, Mercedes Gaztambide-Spillane and Sonia Bragança, also resigned during the same period. 

Section 6.101 of the RSU bylaws states that if a position of the executive, graduate council or board becomes vacant during the winter or summer terms, the RSU president is to appoint an interim representative. This will then be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote of the BoD and will stand until the next by-election or general election. 

RSU president Siddhanth Satish, who also ran with the Adapt slate, appointed Ghasamzaei who was then ratified with a unanimous vote.

Faculty of Arts director Sharif Van Uum said at the meeting that there should be a by-election to elect a new Faculty of Arts director. Satish said the RSU bylaws state that the president could appoint an interim director until a by-election takes place. 

Van Uum added that as the agenda indicated that Ghasamzaei will be filling the role from May 2021 to April 2022, he wants to make sure the bylaws are being followed. 

According to the RSU bylaws, a by-election will be held between Oct. 5 and Nov. 20 to elect a new member to fill in vacancies during the fall term. The interim positions for FCAD directors have yet to be filled.  

FCAD director Olivia McLeod pushed forward an amendment to approve a vote for the committee membership through a Google Form voting system prior to the meeting. The motion was passed after a roll call vote among members. 

Several directors, all of whom ran with Adapt during last year’s elections, were ratified as commissioners, including Sabrina Ahmed for the Equity and Social Justice Committee, Hussnain Khalid for the Events and Entertainment Committee, Parneet Brah for the Course Union and Student Group Student Action Committee, and Muhammad Rashid for the Sustainability Committee.  

President’s updates 

Satish said the RSU plans on reducing the cost of their health and dental plan, hosting a career fair for graduate students and updating its website to make it more accessible. 

He added that he’s still working on the RSU’s finances for the upcoming year based on graduate students having their own union, the Ryerson Graduate Students’ Union. 

“We might have some differences in the budget,” he said.

Second-year students to attend frosh next year

In the fall, the RSU will be hosting virtual frosh events for incoming students, as well as first-year students from the 2020-21 school year. 

According to Akibul Hoque, vice-president student life and events, these events will include podcasts, Q&As with social media influencers, conversations with athletes, panels to empower women and more. 

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a virtual campus fair, where they will have the chance to meet with campus groups and learn how they can get involved on campus.

Hoque also said incoming students will receive welcome packages, which didn’t happen at last year’s orientation week.

Last year, the RSU did not host any online or in-person events for orientation week. In August 2020, former vice-president student life and events Umar Sheikh said he promised to deliver frosh kits to first-year students and held off the budget for Frosh week until in-person events were allowed. 

However, last year’s frosh kits were never delivered to students, since former RSU president Ali Yousaf told The Eye it would be a breach of students’ privacy if the RSU were to ask for students’ addresses. 

Upcoming Ryerson Pride events

Maleha Yasmin, vice-president equity, said she has been collaborating with four equity centres to plan events for Pride Month in June.

She said they have planned events for every week of June, and kicked off with a June 1 event held by RyePride. 

Yasmin added that she has been collaborating with the Centre for Safer Sex and Sexual Violence Support to launch a text line for gender-based violence survivors on June 11.

She said the Good Food Centre has been working with various food vendors to create promotions for students, including a 35 per cent discount at Domino’s Pizza.

RSU pledges $5,000 to charitable organizations

A motion to provide $5,000 in funding for charitable organizations supporting marginalized communities in and around Ryerson University was also passed. 

In the motion, the BoD commissioned the Equity and Social Justice Committee to form a focus group with community members and allies to select one or more charitable organizations or not-for-profit organizations to provide funding to. 

According to the agenda, the Equity and Social Justice Committee’s Commissioner will present a report to the BoD at the next meeting regarding the dispersal of funds. 

Last year, the RSU donated $5,000 to the Black Legal Action Centre, a non-profit legal clinic that provides free legal services for low-to-no income Black Ontarians. 

Menstrual kit project 

According to vice-president operations Vaishali Vinayak, the RSU has received an “overwhelming response” for its menstrual kit project launched last week. She encouraged other members to share the project on social media to ensure it gets “as much outreach as possible.” 

On May 3, the RSU issued a statement to address students’ concerns over their privacy. 

“No executive, board members, or student staff at the RSU will be given access to [students’] personal data,” they stated, adding that full-time management and unionized staff will be handling the data.

The RSU has not yet released a date for the next BoD meeting.

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