RSU ratifies anonymous Election Appeals Committee at 10-person BoD meeting

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By Heidi Lee and Edward Djan

This story has been updated with comment from the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) ratified the Election Appeals Committee at the Board of Directors’ (BoD) meeting on Jan. 26, with more than half of the board members absent.

Two out of five executive members, including vice-president operations Vaishali Vinayak and vice-president education Tarman Kaur, were absent from the meeting.

RSU executive director Reanna Maharaj and new financial controller Harjot Grewal were absent as well.

According to section 2.3 of the RSU’s bylaws, BoD members who fail to attend either two regularly scheduled BoD meetings without sending regrets in advance or three regularly scheduled meetings with notice of regrets would be removed from the board.

A regular BoD meeting is expected to have 28 members on the board, which includes all five RSU executives, faculty directors, other representatives and RSU staff members.

This academic year however, any RSU BoD meeting is expected to have 22 BoD members present. This is due to the RSU’s delay in holding a by-election for the Faculty of Arts director and two Faculty of Communication and Design directors, plus ratification delays of the union’s Board of Governors representative, course unions director, residence representative, senate representative and student groups director.

Ratification of the Election Appeals Committee

RSU president Siddhanth Satish moved the meeting to in-camera over concerns that members of the Election Appeals Committee would be “harassed or targeted” if their identities were revealed.

According to the RSU bylaws, four student members for the Election Appeals Committee are subject to ratification by the BoD upon a majority vote of the present members.

The motion was set to be moved by Vinayak, but due to her absence, was moved by Joel Kuriakose, one of two Faculty of Community Services directors.

The motion to ratify the members of the committee passed.

The committee is made up of four volunteer members from the RSU who review appeals from candidates when they disagree with a decision by the chief returning officer (CRO).

In the 2021-22 CRO’s report for the RSU winter 2021 election, CRO Jenna Rose recommended the RSU do a better job of protecting the identity of the Election Appeals Committee.

Rose, who is also the CRO of the upcoming election, alleged that students and campus media “harassed members of the Election Appeals Committee” during the 2021-22 RSU elections.

Ratification of the ex-officio director position

Satish moved a motion to appoint Declan Key as the first-year representative on the board. The motion was approved. Key’s term will run from January to April 2022.

According to RSU by-laws, the first-year representative is expected to be appointed by the president and ratified by the BoD at the first board meeting of the fall term.

Updates

The RSU has removed some of its equipment from their office at the Ryerson Student Centre following a burst pipe. Satish said they are currently dealing with insurance regarding damages and will continue to work from home.

The RSU is also looking to resume in-person delivery of some services, but no official decision has been made.

Maleha Yasmin, vice-president equity, said she held a meeting with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre (TRCC) a few weeks back to discuss working together to provide training to equity centre and university staff to help them support students who experienced sexual violence. Yasmin also said the meeting focused on holding in-person drop-in sessions and workshops once the university completes its return to campus transition.

Yasmin added that she plans on having a follow-up meeting in the next few weeks regarding the financial details of their agreement with the TRCC before “implementing those services into the university.”

Yasmin also said that she is working on Black History Month initiatives with the RSU’s equity centres as well as the March virtual open house.

Akibul Hoque, vice-president student life and events, said he has been seeing an uptick in applications from students applying to form student groups. Hoque said he has been helping students through the application process, despite The Eye having spoken to several existing student groups who say they have not had their messages returned by the RSU.

Applications are currently being reviewed by Hoque and the student groups committee, he said.

Hoque also said he is reaching out to previous vendors as more students return to campus to plan in-person events. He plans on holding meetings with Toronto FC in the upcoming weeks to discuss a potential partnership.

Prior to the meeting being adjourned, Ted Rogers School of Management director Hilla Yaniv asked Satish about updates regarding this year’s semi-annual general meeting (SAGM) after looking on the RSU’s website and finding no updates.

Satish replied by saying, “the exact reports were actually uploaded on the website. It should be under the section ‘Get Involved’. There’s a document that says ‘Reports for SAGM.’”

He went on to say that if it was not on the website to let him know as he has been the one updating it.

Sharif Van Uum, board representative for the Faculty of Arts disputed Satish, saying, “I just checked the RSU website under the ‘Get Involved’ tab and I don’t see it there.”

Satish replied by saying he would update the page following the meeting. At the time of publication, the page had not been updated with any new information regarding an upcoming SAGM.

We hope the next RSU meeting will happen before we go on lockdown again…Who knows?

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