Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) is an outlier among its fellow students’ unions in making cuts to vital services for students, and the union that represents RSU’s terminated workers is enlisting allies to find out why RSU has abandoned the students it is meant to serve.

RSU has shuttered landmark campus hubs like Good Food Centre, the student food bank, and CopyRite, the print and copy shop. Online funding support and graphic design services for student events have been eliminated. The Centre for Safer Sex and several equity service centres are also closed and most events have been cancelled by RSU.

RSU’s decisions were made despite stable funding from students’ ancillary fees. Its actions also stand in stark contrast to other students’ unions at other universities in the Greater Toronto Area, where similar services continue to operate, even under the conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Closer to home, the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson has adapted to online services.

“These are much-needed services for Ryerson students. The food bank alone served hundreds of students every week, and RSU has simply abandoned them,” said Elise Lee Lai, Communications Officer for CUPE 1281. The union represents employees of RSU, where five workers have been terminated because of the cuts.

“Students at Ryerson are being denied vital services that students at other universities are getting. The question is, why?” demanded Lee Lai. “RSU might want to claim the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse, but it can’t explain why students’ unions at other universities in the Greater Toronto Area continue to operate similar services. And it can’t explain why it has deserted Ryerson students.”

A meeting last week between RSU executive board members and students produced no answers, said Lee Lai.

“CopyRite and the Good Food Centre could be offering curbside service. Centres could continue working with students virtually. There is no shortage of work, just a shortage of will. So we will be working with Ryerson students and other campus allies to find out why RSU is making this already grim year so much worse.”