The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) wants to know if students feel represented at Simcoe Hall through the Governing Council. The union is holding a plebiscite asking, “Do you believe that through the Governing council, students are part of decision making at the University of Toronto?”

Nour Alideeb, President of UTSMU, told The Varsity “The information from the plebiscite question will be presented to relevant stakeholders to support or dispute proposals for structural reform.”

Unlike a referendum, a plebiscite is nonbinding and is being administered to for the purpose of soliciting feedback from students.

Alideeb believes the Governing Council is in need of structural reform because of potential unequal student representation.

“There are a number of issues with Governing Council ranging from unfair electoral processes and lack of transparency to poor representation of graduate, undergraduate, full time and part time students,” she explained.

“With that being said, some of the major topics that impact [students’] lives the most, such as tuition, parking, residence and food costs, often increase with little to no student input.”

Currently, there are 50 members on U of T’s Governing Council, which makes decisions on the university’s most important issues. Of those, 25 members are administrative staff, teaching staff, and current students. The other 25 members are from external groups, such as alumni and Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council appointees.

Alideeb says that she hopes for structural reform in order to get students and U of T staff more involved with the Governing Council.

“I would like to see a structure wherein the proportion of students, staff, faculty, and administration have equal seating,” she said. “The current structure seems to exclude student voices and prioritize external groups for what happens at the University of Toronto.”

Currently, UTM Campus Council represents UTM and reports to the Governing Council. Before the UTM Campus Council was established in 2013, Alideeb explains that there was the Erindale College Council.

“[The Erindale College Council] was comprised of over 40 students, full time, part time, graduate, undergraduate, union representatives… teaching staff, and administration. Students made up over a third of the committee to ensure that students’ issues were at the forefront of all discussions.”

Voting for the plebiscite will take place from September 27–29. Polling stations will be located at the Instructional Centre; the Communication, Culture, Technology Building; and the Davis building.

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