Controversy is brewing over transportation decisions at the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) After Party last month.The After Party happened on September 9 at the Sound Academy and bussing was arranged between the three campuses and the club. According to a report from the UTSU, a “certain division curtailed the previous agreements and brought more buses than were originally agreed upon.”Divisions refer to the student societies from the three campuses of the university — UTSU, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), and the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU). SCSU and UTMSU were responsible for arranging their own shuttles to the event, and the number of buses from each had been confirmed with the UTSU ahead of time. The division involved in this incident was the SCSU, but the report does not mention the name of the division.UTSU Vice-President, Campus Life Shahin Imtiaz told The Varsity that SCSU had originally agreed to provide five buses, but instead sent seven.“To someone who’s maybe not the organizer, the difference between 5 and 7 buses may not be super apparent” said Imtiaz. A UTSU executive told one of the excess busses that arrived at UTSG to turn back to UTSC due to the growing number of buses that were continuing to appear at the Sound Academy.Imtiaz also explained that the limit on the number of buses is a “sort of crowd control measure so that we don’t have an unexpected number of people show up, and Sound Academy… is sort of out of the way… so it’s not ideal to not know how many people are attending.” Despite this, the overflow of buses did not lead to many issues with crowd control.In addition, UTSU learned upon arrival at the venue that there was no parking lot due to ongoing construction. “We were not told about this in advance… which made it even more confusing, and even potentially dangerous, when there are these buses, we have no place to park them, nothing to do with them, and more are coming that we didn’t authorize,” said Imtiaz.The bussing incident has led to feelings of animosity amongst the UTSU staff. “I think the overarching idea is just that we had agreed to a certain thing, and we do it to make it a tri-campus event,” said Imtiaz.Historically, the UTSU has kept frosh events open to all campuses, with costs of the events only borne by the UTSU.The UTSU Management Committee — which is comprised of President Jasmine Wong Denike, Vice-President Internal & Services Mathias Memmel, and Executive Director Tka Pinnock — made the decision to “ not allow this group to participate in future years unless an apology is issued and a formalized agreement can be reached.”When prompted to acknowledge the statement, Memmel stated in an email to The Varsity that the Management Committee hopes to work with the division involved to resolve the problem, but declined to comment further on the matter. Although Memmel was mum on the name of the division involved, Denike and SCSU President Jessica Kirk confirmed that it was SCSU that sent in the extra busses.“After receiving approval from UTSU’s President and the ED and communicating with their Orientation, one of our extra buses that was supposed to have gone back to Scarborough was reassigned to travel to Sound Academy,” explained Kirk. “The reason we had an extra bus to begin with, was that the Orientation Team anticipated more students wanting to use our bus service to return to UTSC. It turns out we only ended up needing to use one bus to take students back to the Scarborough Campus.”Kirk has also stated that she had reached out to Denike to debrief but had not received a response.Denike told The Varsity that the union had agreed to let an extra Scarborough designated bus into the venue because it was not at capacity yet. She also explained that Kirk had only reached out to her to speak on September 29, with “no context given about a debrief of any kind.”“We are still awaiting a response or explanation about why there were more than the 5 agreed-upon buses that were designated for Sound Academy to begin with,” said Denike.The myriad of unforeseen issues is prompting the UTSU to rethink the way the After Party is run. Imtiaz stated that the UTSU staff “were extremely stressed, our executives were extremely stressed… We were thinking about foregoing and just re-visioning everything, kind of based on how negative everyone’s experiences were.”Imtiaz cited accessibility concerns as one reason to reassess the event. She added that organizers “had to go out of our way to make it accessible, with gender-neutral washrooms and such… Maybe we can even do something closer to campus, something that’s maybe even outdoors, or large enough so that the students don’t need to be bussed out.”Though the night was negative for the UTSU staff, the issues did not appear to affect students in attendance at the event. Imtiaz confirmed that despite the bussing issue, the event was a success overall.
Published: 3:59 am, 3 October 2016