Shedding some light on the RSU debate

The RSU election debate took place last Wednesday in the Tecumseh Lounge in the back of the Student Services Centre. It’s a lovely facility. Not the best lighting, though.

I was there on assignment with two other Ryersonian reporters, one live-blogging the event and the other running the cameras with me. The room was dark, so I asked a coordinator if I could add some of our own lights to brighten the shot. It would be out of the way, near the back with one of our cameras. The light stand was on a basic tripod, similar to the ones we had set up with the cameras.

The internal coordinator looked over to the chief returning officer. They shared a glance that almost looked quizzical. I didn’t think it was that difficult of a question.

“No,” I was told. “It will distract the candidates.”

And so began an afternoon of acquiescing to the whims of the Ryerson Students’ Union, who seemed more interested in staging a live rendition of Orwell’s 1984 than holding a debate.

Would an extra light at the back of the room really distract the candidates? I would liken them more to thinking, capable human beings than silly cats in YouTube videos who chase lights from laser-pens.

The debate had also been postponed a day, which one could only learn about by checking the events calendar on the RSU website. No announcements, no changes to the posters plastered around campus — nothing.

These may seem like relatively unimportant issues, but they’re emblematic of a much bigger problem. With all the smoke and mirrors around availability of information, the widespread confusion about what the RSU even does, and the overwhelming presence of one slate that all but stamps out the hopes of independent candidates,  there’s something going on here.

The RSU’s strange ivory tower complex has spawned candidates who want nothing more than to subvert the system, and students like me who can’t help but think their tuition money could be going to much better things.

This power trip has resulted in a case of unnecessary difficulty for the student body. The $43.63 from each student’s Winter 2014 tuition is spent on nothing but a communication barrier.   If there were any students who actually wanted to attend the debate in the first place,  they wouldn’t have even known it was happening one day later.

I would like to sincerely apologize to the RSU for trying to illuminate their debate. I shouldn’t have tried to improve our shots of the candidates, the Unite Ryerson supporters that likely asked candidates rehearsed questions, and the people who just showed up for the free pizza.

In the end, the lighting did hurt our shots a little bit. At least I got a free slice of pizza. Thanks, RSU!

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