By Heidi Lee and Jack Wannan
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) passed a motion to archive the 2022 election report for at least five years at the February Board of Directors’ (BoD) meeting.
According to the RSU bylaws, the chief returning officer (CRO) should publish a final report which includes summaries of the election process, results of the election, the total number of eligible voters in each constituency, the total number of election notices sent via e-mail and the total number of any failed delivery of election notices.
The bylaw states that the report will be sent to the BoD and the report will be archived for a period of at least five years.
At an April 7, 2021 BoD meeting, the RSU put forward a motion to ratify the final report and results of the 2021 elections.
However, there was no mention of ’ratifying’ election results at this meeting. The Eyeopener reached out to current RSU president Siddhanth Satish for clarification, who has not responded.
In the report, CRO Jenna Rose addressed the allegations of ‘Forward’ slate candidates delivering snack packages to get students in residence to vote, as previously reported by The Eye.
Rose stated that upon further inquiry, she discovered that the students who campaigned in the residence buildings were students who lived there.
“This put us in a difficult position since we weren’t comfortable telling students what they should and shouldn’t do at their residential accommodations,” she wrote. “Nevertheless, we requested the students to kindly follow the guidelines set by the building supervisors and refrain from campaigning inside dorm rooms.”
Rose added that she received complaints about bribery from Forward candidates.
“Before any care packages were distributed, team Forward clarified the rules with us,” she wrote. “According to the RSU’s bylaws students are allowed to distribute campaign material that costs less than $1 in net value during the course of their campaign. The packages they distributed cost less than $1.”
She added that a condition was placed where Forward slate members were not allowed to give out these care packages in exchange for a vote.
“Since there were no bylaws broken here, there were no demerit points handed out,” Rose stated.
Besides addressing complaints during the election process, the report also includes numerous suggestions for future elections with a heavy focus on helping inform students and improving voter turnout.
These suggestions include a longer period of time to promote elections, moving the timeline from 14 days up to as long as 30 days in total. In another attempt to improve voter turnout, it was suggested that year-round staff could be employed, similar to an “outreach” or “street team.”
Rose advised the RSU to create an “Election Reform Committee” that would host town hall-style meetings to collect student feedback about the current electoral system.
She also suggested that future RSU election debates be hosted by campus media, adding that the RSU should inform campus media about election dates ahead of time.
A proposal was also made to hire a CRO for a multi-month contract for the time that an RSU election takes place.
No mention of motion to ensure student press freedom
At the end of January, The Eye sent a motion to the RSU, in which The Eye requested the RSU to improve its communication with student media at Ryerson.
In an email sent to Eye news editor Thea Gribilas on Jan. 24, Satish said the motion would be included in the February BoD meeting. However, at the February meeting, there were no mentions of the press freedom motion.
The motion requested the RSU respond to all requests for comment or interviews from student press including but not limited to The Eye and On The Record News (OTR) within 48 hours.
In addition, the motion asked the RSU to hold two separate meetings with The Eye and OTR that would answer at least five questions weekly from the publications.
“In the meantime, I have tried my best to respond back to any media that is directly related to the RSU,” Satish wrote in the Jan. 24 email.
Proposal to introduce Faculty of Law representative to BoD
Nick Chai-Tang, president of the Lincoln Alexander Law Students’ Society, spoke at the meeting to propose that law students have a member elected to the BoD.
The law school, which was founded in September 2020, does not currently have a representative on the BoD. The top representative from the student society hoped that bylaws could be amended to change that.
“Though we are undergrad students we’re still technically undergrad and we pay RSU fees,” he said.
Chai-Tang was told that the BoD has heard his request and will “take this forward.” It was noted by a member of the board that this request would have to be approved at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) before it could be amended.
For the next BoD meeting, Eye editors will likely be given only a 5.5-hour notice again in which we will scramble to find someone to cover it because everyone has a 6 p.m. class.