A number of Excalibur’s writers tried to get a hold of the York Federation of Students, and more specifically Julian Jasniewski, who holds the position of vp campus life, in the week following the Student Centre shooting. It was our hope that we could get a comment or two about student concerns and anxieties following this traumatizing incident.
We didn’t receive much, and it would have been understandable if Jasniewski had been too busy upholding his vp duties to give us a few answers.
These responsibilities, which are viewable right on YFS’ website (under “YFS bylaws,” for your reference), include the recruitment and coordination of volunteers, and acting as a voting member on various committees and task forces.
Surely, amidst questions about policies and changes in the school’s security, as well as a surge of interest in student life, Jasniewski had a lot of meetings and volunteers to juggle during York’s darkest week this year.
That’s why it’s so irritating to learn that on the Tuesday Excalibur was reaching out to Jasniewski for replies, he was instead lobbying for his buddy Cameron Wathey, incumbent vp internal candidate of the U of T Voice slate, during that university’s spring elections.
According to The Varsity, Jasniewski spent at least a portion of Tuesday, March 11 and Wednesday, March 12 in the downtown campus’ Sidney Smith building promoting U of T Voice.
This isn’t the first time this controversy has come up, but it just might be the worst.
Last year, Alastair Woods, YFS’ former vp of campaigns and advocacy, was met with criticism for frequenting U of T during its election period. Woods was part of his own U of T/York political scandal, in which the Team Renew slate’s vp external candidate Sana Ali withdrew from the race, and revealed Woods and Ryerson’s Brodie Metcalfe were Renew’s real organizers.
It was bad then that a York representative was dedicating his time and energy to U of T’s student union over his own.
But YFS’ presence on their own campus is exponentially more essential this time around, and their absence more glaring, since the U of T elections coincided with a major incident at York—gunfire in the campus food court.
There’s definitely a case to be made about YFS representatives being allowed to simply help out friends. No one should be suggesting that York owns Jasniewski or YFS’ other staff.
Personally, I don’t keep the close, critical eye on any of YFS’ members that some others do, and I understand that despite their weighty authorities, they’re still young students like all of us. In short, I’m not often bothered by YFS because I don’t expect much of them.
But if their members can’t be here to represent us, and help us, during our toughest times then what good are they at all? Why is the student body putting even the tiniest amount of their tuition towards Jasniewski’s $30,350 salary if he can’t oversee the “campus life” of his job title when it’s in dire need of oversight?
For this week’s issue, we once again extended a series of questions to Janiewski. He gave brief responses to our questions this time, stating “I am entitled to vacation days, and what I do on my personal time is up to me to decide.”
He also all but ignored a student’s questioning of why he was at U of T after the shooting, asking us to see his other curt responses for a reply.
Jasniewski is correct that his private life is no one else’s business, but he should at least acknowledge that this student’s concern is legitimate.
In response to this question, a brief explanation of how the YFS has been contributing to the recent discussions on enhancing campus security would have been sufficient. For all we know, and we could be totally wrong, they haven’t been. They just haven’t told us otherwise.
If you market yourselves as the Federation of Students, and more specifically as a leader in campus life, you accept an accountability for those students when they’re put in danger, or scared about coming to school.
U of T politics can’t take priority over the political system you are directly a part of and were elected by the masses to commit to.