Former University of Toronto Students’ Union president Sandy Hudson has returned to the UTSU in the role of executive director.
Hudson, who served as president from 2008 through 2010, returns to the union where she began her career, after two years as chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS-O).
“I’m really committed to the student movement and to education,” Hudson said. “Especially at U of T, I wanted nothing more than to continue working with students and working within education advocacy.”
Initially brought back as “operations coordinator,” Hudson believes it was her long-standing involvement with the Student Commons Project that got her the executive director role recently vacated by Amir Bashir.
The Student Commons project, which has been in the works for several years, seeks to create a student-owned and operated building on campus, most likely in the current John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture building. Hudson served in a consultative capacity on various meetings and was present for the initial planning stages of the project. She believes her involvement on the project was probably what appealed to her new employers.
Walied Khogali, executive director of UTMSU, has worked closely with Hudson in the past. He was pleased to hear of her return to the UTSU. “Sandy is very talented,” said Khogali. “She is very well-respected across U of T, by everyone from colleagues to student unions, even at UTSC and UTM.”
Other campus figures are more wary of the circumstances surrounding her return.
Samuel Greene, Trinity College student head, said he was skeptical that the job was “conveniently waiting for her at UTSU” once her term at CFS-O was over. Greene says this type of favouritism is “symptomatic of a culture at the union where allies of the incumbents are rewarded with patronage.”
Amir Bashir, Hudson’s predecessor, had been intimately involved in student politics at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Hudson describes her new post as an “everything job.” She is responsible for facilitating the smooth internal functioning of the union, as well as ensuring that the UTSU stays within the bounds of the law. These duties required several weeks of training and research on applicable government policies, as well as the UTSU’s internal policies and bylaws.
Hudson also touts her experience with the CFS-O as a major plus in her new role. Hudson has been involved with the CFS-O since as early as November 2009, when she began to establish her rapport with the provincial lobbying organization over the issue of allowing students without immigration status to continue to go to school.
Khogali points to her success on that issue as evidence of the skills that an executive director ought to possess. “You need a strong, highly qualified personality like her to be executive director — someone who understands both the lobbying role and the services component.”
Hudson says she is looking forward to an extremely busy but fulfilling school year, sensing potential gains for the U of T student body, and reiterating her commitment to the university. “There is so much opportunity, but we’re not in a good place right now,” she says regretfully of Ontario’s post-secondary education system.