By Sarah Tomlinson and Heidi Lee
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) passed a motion to create a rebranding committee for the union at Tuesday’s Board of Directors’ (BoD) meeting, following Ryerson’s renaming announcement.
According to the meeting’s agenda, the RSU’s rebrand committee will include three RSU board members who will work with “appropriate partners” to present the board with an action plan to implement and appropriately market a new name for the union.
The RSU was officially established in 1967, and was named after the university, at the time called the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
RSU president Siddhanth Satish said at Tuesday’s board meeting that rebrand committee members will be appointed on a voluntary basis, meaning that BoD members who want to be included can nominate themselves through email. It is not yet clear how this process will work.
During the meeting, Faculty of Communication and Design director Olivia McLeod asked for a follow-up on the Standing Strong Task Force information session, which was previously passed as a motion in a September BoD meeting to consult students on the name change process.
Satish said holding an information session to collect data for the RSU to understand how fast the students’ union should proceed with its own name change, would first require the RSU to ratify a Board of Governors (BoG) student representative for the Board.
According to the RSU bylaws 6.12, one student elected to be a student member of the Ryerson University BoG shall serve on the RSU BoD as an ex-officio director, provided that they are a bona fide member of the students’ union.
Satish said new websites for the RSU’s equity service centres and the RSU’s new website will be ready in the coming week. The RSU passed a motion at a July BoD meeting to make its websites more accessible and user-friendly.
“We’re just setting up marketing strategies and setting up their launch dates as well,” he said.
Satish added that the equity centres have completed their part-time hiring. With the 2020-21 financial audit complete, he said the audit will be reviewed by the RSU’s finance committee and presented at a meeting “in the coming weeks.”
RSU business updates
Executive director Reanna Maharaj said nominations for student groups and course unions representatives took place between Sept. 20-23 and have been completed.
“Now that we’ve got the Student Groups and Course Unions committee together, we have the first committee meeting that will be held this Thursday,” she said, adding that the meeting will act as an introduction to get to know each other and the tasks to be completed by the committee.
Although these are two separate committees as outlined in the RSU by-laws, Maharaj said both committees consist of many of the same members and therefore have joint meetings. She said the committee will have to address the multitude of student group applications it received in the month of September. “As the year moves on, we’ll be receiving fewer and fewer applications so things will slow down quite a bit,” she said.
The RSU will also be collecting reimbursements from course unions who didn’t utilize their allotted orientation budgets on time, according to Maharaj.
She added that last week was the deadline for affiliate groups to submit their letters of endorsements and liability.
Apart from working on the weekly RSU newsletter, Maharaj said she’s been updating the Career Boost payroll system, a “cost-saving” program for part-time Ryerson student staff, and has been able to get all staff set-up on it. She said she has also been advertising the open RSU BoD positions ahead of the byelection, though the byelection dates have not yet been established.
Maharaj said she hasn’t yet advertised the job posting for the RSU’s chief risk officer (CRO) position due to the low turnout in applications.
“That’s kind of why I don’t want to submit all the paperwork to the university and advertise the voting days and nomination days because if I don’t have that CRO in time, then I won’t be able to continue on with those dates,” she said, citing an example from last year when dates had to be modified for the election of the CRO. She added that the CRO is a position that is only hired during the by-election and RSU general election period.
Vice-president equity Maleha Yasmin said she has been planning the RSU’s ”Begin by Listening: Student Activism on Sexual Violence Symposium” virtual conference taking place in from November 4 to 5, adding that promotion for the event will be starting soon.
In an email sent to The Eyeopener, Yasmin said the event will feature “outstanding” Ontario student undergraduate and graduate research, art, activism and advocacy on sexual violence and consent culture.
“This symposium is centred on student voices and experiences and will be an opportunity to connect with students across different institutions working to create change,” the email reads.
“We’ve also hired new coordinators for the RyePride centre and this month we’ve also launched [The Centre for Safer Sex & Sexual Violence Support] phone line. We also launched the Good Food Centre food box,” she said at the meeting.
According to Yasmin, as of Sept. 27, the Centre for Safer Sex & Sexual Violence Support expanded its text and chat line to a phone line “to provide better support.”
“Support through voice chat is available 24/7, 365 days a year,” she wrote. “This phone line is free, anonymous and confidential and gives you access to our team of peer support volunteers trained in providing judgement-free support and directing you to any on- or off-campus resources you may benefit from.”
She added that the RSU is planning on transitioning from phone to a web-based voice chat line, which would utilize Facetime, Zoom or Skype without leaving a trace in any individual’s call history.
“Having our call line be web-based is also great for our remote or international students, as it is free wherever you are as long as you have access to Wi-Fi,” she wrote.
Yasmin also said the food box program is an initiative created to help address food insecurity on campus. Students can sign up through a Google form on their Instagram account and can be eligible for a credit of $25 biweekly to buy groceries. The RSU recently relaunched the program, according to Yasmin.
“The application through which groceries can be ordered is ‘ongrocery’ and groceries will be provided by GoCart.City,” she wrote.
Vice-president education Tarman Kaur said the RSU has been working with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to release a new RU-Pass for the winter term.
As previously reported by The Eye, the RU-Pass is a transit pass that could provide full-time Ryerson students with access to unlimited TTC rides on the subway, streetcars and buses.
In an email to The Eye, Kaur said the new pass is the same RU-Pass that was approved by students in 2018. According to Kaur, the TTC put a pause on this because they were waiting for the court to make a decision on the Student Choice Initiative (SCI).
“With the court now has given its verdict, the work for RU-Pass is in the process,” she wrote. “My responsibility is to work with the TTC on the logistics to make this pass easily accessible for the students and that is what I have been working on.”
Kaur also said she has been working to distribute Personal Protective Equipment and stationery supplies to students living in residence and helped organize a three-day event called “Space Child,” which featured roller skating and karaoke at Lake Devo.
“The third [day] was supposed to be a silent disco which got cancelled due to the weather,” Kaur said. “This is a fun experience for new students.”
Although vice-president operations Vaishali Vinayak was at the BoD meeting, she did not provide any updates. Priya Paul, the RSU’s financial controller, also did not have any updates.
The RSU has not announced when the next meeting will be held.