On Jan. 24 the Ryerson University administration announced it no longer recognizes the Ryerson Students Union. This is a massive violation of student democracy, and one we unequivocally oppose.
The announcement by the vice provost states, “Effective immediately, the university no longer recognizes the RSU as the official student government representing Ryerson students,” meaning, among other things, at the end of the academic year, funds collected from students will presumably be denied to their elected union representatives.
The administration feigns concern about student union funds being used improperly. This is very convenient for the Ryerson administration and government-appointed governors, many of whom are unelected and stand-ins for some of Canada’s largest corporations. This undemocratic, bureaucratic clique has spent years sucking more and more money from students, with near-annual tuition increases. At the same time, services were reduced, buildings fell into disrepair, staff were overworked and students’ lives generally worsened. In the past two years alone, they have stood by as Doug Ford attacked students’ rights to organize on campus, students’ rights to education grants and their right to union representation — while also threatening supporters of the student strike with academic penalty for daring to stand up for themselves.
The university administration is therefore no friend of students.
If the administration was concerned about real wastes of students money — these individuals would resign, forfeit their exorbitant compensation and allow for democratic control of campus life — with the unelected board and unelected university executives thrown out and replaced by one elected by students, faculty and campus workers. But of course, they will never do that.
This attack on student democracy by the administration will have enormously negative consequences for students — just as Doug Ford’s student choice initiative did. It therefore needs to be fought.
Ryerson students need union leaders who are willing to stand up to the administration who’ve stoody idly by as the Ford government attacked students. Though the Socialist Fightback Club has no shortage of disagreements with the current and past RSU slates, we cannot sit by while the university’s unelected administrators freely dissolve the students’ union and cut funding to its services at will.
As students, we are well aware of the misgivings people have about our union leadership. Over the years, Socialist Fightback has been at the fore of pointing out these failures from within the student movement, and will continue to do so. However, we have always delineated between the RSU executive and the RSU itself—which encompasses tens of thousands of student members on campus. Should they choose to, students can remove their representatives, elect new ones, and modify the statutes governing the RSU. No one, least of all our club, can deny that there are problems at the head of our union, including both corruption and careerism. However, it is students alone who have the authority to change our leadership, and to remake the RSU into a fighting organization for all students—not the administration, which has only its own rotten interests at heart.
Hands off our union!
For a fighting RSU!