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The president of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), Maklane deWever, is looking to abolish slates and reduce the size of the board of directors in light of ongoing controversy surrounding the RSU.
He released a statement to the Ryerson student body Thursday night, which said in part: “What happened in the last 10 months at the RSU undermined the 71 years of hard work that our employees, volunteers and student leaders have devoted to serving you, and I hope to take this opportunity to rebuild the organization to the best of my ability.”
DeWever has been president of the RSU since Feb. 11, when the board of directors voted to impeach former president Ram Ganesh after allegations of financial misconduct surfaced.
The statement released Thursday night said that deWever and fellow board members will introduce several motions at the annual general meeting in April to reduce the size of the board, increase their power, reinstate the position of general manager (terminated in 2018) and abolish slates.
“In a room full of 40 people, it is far too easy to be complicit in wrongdoing and hope that someone else will be the one to speak up,” deWever writes.
The last time the RSU saw an independent candidate voted into presidency was 2004. Since then, slates have become a commonality amongst students interested in running for the RSU. However, deWever attributes low-voter turnout in previous elections to slates, citing that students may often feel they do not have ownership in the decision-making process.
“While oftentimes well-intentioned, election slates tend to recruit people they already know leaving it next to impossible to win a seat as an independent candidate,” deWever writes.
With the recent changes the Ontario government is proposing to the mandatory ancillary fees that currently support the RSU, deWever says revising the RSU is paramount to the union’s survival.
“With the Provincial government intending to allow students to opt out of student fees, our only unified student voice is in jeopardy,” the statement reads. “I truly believe that students’ unions do meaningful work on campus, within the province and across the country and this meaningful work can only be properly funded through democratically implements universal fees.”