Last Monday, the University of Toronto Governing Council’s University Affairs Board (UAB) rejected the Council on Student Services’ (CoSS) nominee for Chair of CoSS, Sandra Hudson.CoSS, which is a body under Student Life at U of T, governs the compulsory fees that students are charged for Student Life, the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education — which go towards Athletic Centre membership — and Hart House.The power to nominate candidates for Chair of CoSS is shared among the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU), the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS), and the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) on a rotating basis. This year, it was the UTGSU’s turn to nominate, and the union chose to nominate Sandra Hudson.Although the UTGSU has the ability to nominate up to three candidates, its only nominee was Hudson, a former UTSU executive director and a former Governing Council member who is currently in the midst of a lawsuit with the UTSU in which the union alleged that she received improperly-issued severance payments. Hudson has also filed a counterclaim against the union alleging that it violated non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses in her termination agreement.Hudson’s nomination was approved at CoSS’ October 31 meeting. All four of the UTSU representatives on CoSS were absent for that meeting.Brieanne Berry-Crossfield, the UTGSU’s Finance Commissioner and CoSS representative, expressed her disappointment at UAB’s decision at the November 30 CoSS meeting.“That holds a weird amount of pressure on us to try and make a decision,” she said, during the meeting. “As far as I know, the relationship between CoSS and UAB is advisory, but I didn’t believe that advisory also meant they had a direct hand at how this body will actually run itself,” Berry-Crossfield said.UTSU Vice-President Internal Mathias Memmel, who also sits on CoSS, expressed similar sentiments: “I find UAB’s failing of the recommended COSS chair person concerning to say the least. This is a further erasure to an already-weak system of student-influenced governance at U of T.”U of T Media Relations Director Althea Blackburn-Evans told The Varsity that because UAB’s discussion of the CoSS Chair appointment occurred in camera, no details regarding the reasoning behind UAB’s decision can be shared.The UTGSU has the ability to nominate two more candidates and in the event that the union is unable to make further nominations, the ability to nominate a chair will roll over to APUS, which is next in line for the rotation.“At this week’s UAB meeting, the GSU rep there indicated that they’d take it back to the GSU executive to consider that and they’d follow up by the week’s end,” Blackburn-Evans told The Varsity.Neither Berry-Crossfield nor Hudson responded to The Varsity’s requests for comment.
Published: 4:22 am, 5 December 2016