My personal thoughts on Ryerson cutting ties with the RSU

A personal experience.

In the summer of 2018, a small group of students at the University of Guelph had the opportunity to meet with the top three candidates for the new Vice-Provost – Student Affairs.  I was one of about ten students who got to attend these three luncheons.

With the previous person leaving (Brenda Whiteside) – and with her being such an institution on campus – this was a big deal.

We “interviewed”/had conversations with three people. Each interaction was definitively different. They were three unique candidates with a variety of experiences, and different passions.

One candidate seemed unaware of student issues, but was genuine and kind,

One openly scoffed at us and seemed to blow off our conversation as something tedious or boring.

The third candidate came to our lunch with a notebook full of notes. They had done research on everyone at the table (having been pre-emptively informed about which students they were meeting).
This candidate was warm, genuine, and passionate. For the most part, we were agreed.

I was personally won over by a brief, but impactful, connection regarding the music of The Tragically Hip.

We had our lunch in July of 2018, and I had recently done my third “Hip Day” Where I tried to embrace decolonizing Canada Day by listening to the discography of The Hip on July 1st.

On July 1st, I had posted this picture:

The candidate saw the picture, brought up my comment. And I felt seen.

The fact that this candidate cared enough to make a connection that resonated with each one of us in the same way was enthralling and brilliant.

We recommended, maybe meaningfully, maybe not, to the Provost that the candidate who showed the most passion be the one picked for the top Student Affairs role on a campus that prides itself in being a leader in this area.

Later that month, we were thrilled to learn our favourite had been hired.  We would get to work with Dr. Carrie Chassels. It would be a steep learning curve for those of us used to Brenda’s straightforward authority and dedication, but one that seemed manageable based on Carrie’s excitement and passion.

All of this is to say, there were two other candidates that summer looking for a new job who did not get the privilege of being hired at the University of Guelph. One of those two candidates was hired at another University later in 2018 for the same role.

Today that candidate, the one who scoffed at us. The one who chided some of the most passionate, most active, most dedicated students at the University of Guelph … cut ties with the Ryerson Student Union.

My best take here is that we saved the Central Student Association from a similar scenario. I am endlessly thankful for the support I felt from Carrie last year as the Student Choice Initiative wracked our campus’ heart. I never felt like our administration was out to get us. I could swear that we had their support because we were working together and the feeling, I hope, was mutual.

We only had a brief interaction with the candidates – an hour-long lunch. But in that hour, we felt animosity, contempt, and apathy.

Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe I’m wrong.
Or maybe the VP Student Affairs at Ryerson scoffs at student activism, and discredits passion as annoyance. 

Written by
Jack Fisher

Jack Fisher is an independent journalist. He holds a BAH from the University of Guelph, and a post-graduate certificate from Sheridan College in journalism.
@Jack_Fisher_4 on Twitter and Instagram

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Written by Jack Fisher