Analysis: Transform RU landslide victory shows students fed-up with Unite Ryerson

A politics professor and Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) expert says that Transform RU’s victory shows why Unite Ryerson has been successful all these years.

Neil Thomlinson, who has followed RSU politics for more than 20 years, says that Unite has won in the past because it’s been organized, didn’t have opposition and knows how to get its supporters to vote. However, he says its past success doesn’t mean that people liked its platform or style of governance.

“I can’t speculate about why students voted the way they did … but the size of the margins does suggest that a fair number of Ryerson students had had enough of Unite, the way it has operated in office, and/or its message,” said Thomlinson in an email.

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Transform RU’s Andrea Bartlett won the position of president with 2,414 votes — almost twice as many as the 1,209 for Unite Ryerson’s Pascale Diverlus.

The voter turnout for the presidential position alone was more than 3,500, which is 75 per cent more than last year.

But Thomlinson said that he’s “not much heartened by the increased voter turnout.”

Transform RU supporters celebrate in the Ram in the Rye, Feb. 11, 2015. (Shannon Baldwin / Ryersonian Staff)

Transform RU supporters celebrate in the Ram in the Rye, Feb. 11, 2015. (Shannon Baldwin / Ryersonian Staff)

“Obviously, if you give voters serious choice, more of ‘em are going to take the trouble to vote,” Thomlinson said. “And clearly, this election offered much more in the way of serious choice than did many previous elections.  But as a percentage of eligible voters, it’s still pretty depressing.”

Voter turnout was just under 13 per cent using the baseline of about 28,000 full-time equivalent students in the 2013-14 year.

Almost all of the Unite candidates received approximately the same number of votes, ranging from 1,200 to 1,300.

Thomlinson says he’s surprised that Zidane Mohamed, Unite’s candidate for vice-president education, who came under fire recently for controversial remarks he made on Facebook applauding the killing of two New York City cops, didn’t receive the fewest number of votes.

“I must say that I find that a little disappointing.  I guess loyalty to the Unite slate transcends pretty much everything,” Thomlinson said. “I would hate to reach for the other possible conclusion: that 1231 Ryerson students agree with him.”

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