Graduate students have until Nov. 5 to vote in the referendum
Ryerson graduate students may soon be represented by a new union.
On Monday, all graduate students received an invitation to participate in the Graduate Students’ Union Fee Referendum. The ballot asks students whether they support the funding of the new union to the tune of $123.84 per student, per year; and if they support a levy of $650 per year to fund an expanded, optional healthcare plan.
The referendum is the latest step in a nearly five-year-long process by several graduate students to be represented by a graduate-specific union, explained Charlotte Ferworn, vice president of operations for the Ryerson Graduate Students’ Union (RGSU). The aim of the new union is improved services for graduate students, according to the RGSU representative.
“We want an organization that can really represent graduate students and fight for graduate students,” she said. “[We want to] organize events and programs that graduate students will actually benefit from, without having to compromise all the time because there are way more undergraduate students on campus.”
Ferworn said that graduate students are interested in expanded health coverage, as they’re
less likely to be covered by their parent’s health insurance. Under the new RGSU-proposed plan, students would be able to access four dental scaling treatments per year, rather than one, under the existing plan. Mental health coverage would also be expanded.
The new proposed levies would represent an increase of $334.08 for graduate students in student fees. However, students would be able to opt-out of the expanded health plan, reducing the fee increase to just $24.08. Existing student fees, paid to the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) and the existing health plan, would be replaced by these new fees.
Additionally, the RGSU would focus less on social events and more on professional development opportunities, according to Ferworn. “Undergraduate and graduate students are not the same. Graduates students are more focused on research and professional development,” she said. “[It’s] not to say we’re not social, but we only have so much time.”
Students have until Thursday to cast their ballot.
How to vote on the RGSU referendum as a graduate student
To vote, students must log into their my.ryerson.ca dashboard. Under the participate section on the homepage, they will find a link to Graduate Students’ Union Fee Referendum 2020. Following that hyperlink, they’ll be asked simply whether they vote “yes” or “no” on the one-question referendum. Before submitting their vote, they’ll be asked to preview their digital ballot.
Should the referendum pass, the RGSU will begin negotiating the structure of the new union with Ryerson University. New fees and services would likely come into effect next September, according to Ferworn.
Prior to April, graduate students were represented by the RSU. In the spring, members of the RSU supported the removal of graduate students from the RSU and creation of the RGSU.
To finalize the change in representation for graduate students from the RSU to the RGSU, the referendum asks students to approve the new levies.