By: Mariam Nouser
Executive candidates for the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) are vowing to prioritize the union’s image if elected.
At the RSU candidates debate on Tuesday, the candidates for president, vice-president operations and vice-president equity discussed their platform points and answered questions from students.
The hot topic was the future of the RSU after Ryerson University terminated its 1986 Operating Agreement with the union in January.
Charmaine Reid, the presidential candidate with team Inspire, said the union needs to regain the trust of students.
“What is fundamental to gaining student trust is to continue this police investigation that was filed by the current RSU team after last year’s financial mismanagement,” said the fourth-year politics and governance student.
The other presidential candidate is the former RSU vice-president operations, Ali Yousaf, running with team Rise.
Yousaf emphasized that representing students’ voices is critical for his team.
“We want to know what the students want to see in the union going forward,” said Yousaf. “We will conduct a survey once we get into office to see what the students want and need.”
Rise’s vice-president equity candidate Vaishali Vinayak said her team is going to be transparent in order to help with their image.
“We are going to make sure that all [financial and meeting] documents are public and that people can address their problems,” said Vinayak.
How will the RSU repair its relationship with the university?
According to Reid, the RSU has to show that students have trust in the union in order to repair its relationship with the university.
“We have a student government. We need a student union,” said Reid. “There is a big difference between a union and a government and that is what I want to bring to the university.”
According to Ryerson’s Jan. 24 press release, the university terminated its Operating Agreement with the union because it failed to conduct a forensic audit and share the results as well as draft a new operating agreement with the university.
The current RSU executives released the results of their financial review on Feb. 3, while previously promising a forensic audit, according to the Eyeopener. The review showed the expenses that had no corresponding receipts as well as the current executives’ next steps.
Inspire’s vice-president operations candidate, Zaima Aurony, said the forensic audit would be one of Inspire’s main priorities if elected.
Aurony suggested that the union look for ways to bring in money other than by the student levy, to allow the RSU to be more autonomous.
“Improving services at Copyrite would help as Copyrite once was the largest unionized printing centre in the province,” said Aurony.
For team Rise, Yousaf said he “wants to know what the students’ thoughts are regarding the audit” and will make a decision about a forensic audit after the survey is complete.
He was questioned, by students, about his involvement with the financial mismanagement of 6 Fest, which saw a large sum of money being deposited into his bank account. However, Yousaf said he was cleared by an auditor.