UTMSU exits Student Societies Summit

Argues UTM students treated as "second-class students" in letter to summit

UTMSU exits Student Societies Summit

On February 10, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) sent a letter to participants in the Student Societies Summit stating that it would not be attending future meetings, citing both petitions from its members objecting to its participation, as well as concerns of its own. The letter was written by the UTMSU’s vice-president, external, Melissa Theodore.

“We believe further participation and implicit consent of the Summit will have a negative impact on our membership, and the student body as a whole,” reads the letter, “As a result, we also encourage other student groups to cease participation in the summit.” The union named a number of its objections to the summit: The summit represents a breach of the autonomy of students’ unions, fails to include a number of student groups who ought to have a part in the proceedings, has never had its scope or terms of reference clearly defined, and has encouraged the UTMSU and UTSU University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) to violate contract law. UTMSU also argues that the Summit is undemocratic, seeks to negotiate from an unequal footing, and has not addressed issue of bullying and intimidation tactics.

Additionally, the letter stated that representatives of other divisional student groups at the summit have treated UTM students as “second-class students.” “We have been referred to as though we are not made up of individual, responsible, intelligent adults and as though we are not to have the same rights conferred to us as members of the UTSU as other students,” says Theodore.

“We have to question why this perception exists,” she continued, “On the face of it, the only things that are apparently different about our society and the others that exist at the Student Society Summit are that we are located farther away from the UTSU than most other societies and that we have a much higher proportion of racialized students on our campus and so tend to be represented by racialized members.” The letter notes that extremely few representatives at summit meetings have been women, mature students, people of colour, people with disabilities, international students, or trans students.

Theodore also notes that revealing the contract that delineates the UTMSU’s relationship with the UTSU would constitute a violation of contract law, as divulging the contents of the contract is against the provisions of the contract. Participants at summit meetings have nonetheless repeatedly requested that the contract be revealed. The UTMSU contends that doing so would open it up to litigation.

The reaction of other Summit participants to UTMSU’s withdrawal has been mixed. “It is disappointing that the UTMSU will not participate in future Summit meetings,” said Nishi Kumar, president of the University College Literary and Athletic Society,  “I am also confused about their allegations of racism and sexism during meetings. I personally have not encountered any of the “aggression” from summit attendees that their statement describes, nor have my three female colleagues from SGRT. We are a diverse group, representing students from all backgrounds and experiences, and the Summit has encouraged active participation from all of us.”

Mauricio Curbelo, president of the Engineering Society, argued that the UTMSU’s decision to exit the Summit was motivated by a desire not to disclose their financial arrangement with the UTSU. “Their non-participation is proof that they are unable to defend the fee transfer in a public forum. The administration should ignore the UTMSU’s baseless grandstanding and continue with the Summit process,” he said.

The UTSU has not yet decided on a course of action in response to the UTMSU’s decision. “We have not yet had time to digest this ourselves, but it certainly gives us quite a bit to consider,” said Munib Sajjad, president of the UTSU.

Also on February 10, the leaders of a number of divisional student societies sent their own letter to faculty representatives at the summit. The letter states that the outcome of the summit must be a recommendation to change university policy, that the fee arrangement between the UTSU and UTMSU must be terminated or offered to every other divisional student society that requests it, and that constituencies must be allowed to cease their affiliation with campus- or university-wide student societies if they wish.

These divisional leaders further contend that the university’s Policy for Compulsory Non-Academic Incidental Fees ought to be changed. Their recommended changes include allowing every student society to have mechanisms by which it may change its constitutions, bylaws, and policies without Executive or Board consideration of their proposals, based solely on the decisions of its membership. They recommend also that non-U of T students must be banned from formally or informally participating as campaign volunteers in U of T student society elections.

The divisional leaders who signed this letter include Curbelo; Kumar; Jelena Savic, president of the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council; Ben Crase and Maha Naqi, heads of Trinity College; Mary Stefanidis, president of the Innis College Student Society; Ashkan Azimi, president of New College Student Council; Alex Zappone, president of the St. Michael’s College Student Union; and Anthony O’Brien, president of the Kinesiology and Physical Education Undergraduate Association.

UTSU Board of Directors rules fee-diversion motions out of order

Some directors express concerns over transparency

UTSU Board of Directors rules fee-diversion motions out of order

Engineering director Pierre Harfouche’s three motions were not approved at Tuesday’s University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Board of Directors meeting, effectively removing opposition motions from the agenda of the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The first of Harfouche’s motions called on the UTSU to support the stance of fee-diversion-seeking divisions at the Student Societies Summit. The third was a charter amendment that would allow a division within the university to decide by an intra-division referendum to divert fees from the UTSU.

Both Harfouche’s first and third motions were ruled out of order by the Board of Directors as bylaw amendments would be needed before their submission. Though Harfouche aimed, in the phrasing of his motions, to avoid making bylaw amendments, the UTSU considers it an atttempt to work around the established procedure. “In conversation, Mr. Harfouche admitted that he phrased the motions in the way that he did in an attempt to avoid having to make bylaw amendments, which must be approved by the Board of Directors according to the Corporations Act,” commented UTSU president Munib Sajjad, adding that “This doesn’t stop the fact that his motions require bylaw amendments.”

Harfouche’s second motion called for the appointment of new representatives from the union to the Student Societies Summit, the focus of which is the questions around fee diversion. This motion was similarly ruled out of order on the principle that it seeks to undermine the university administration’s stance against the changing of Summit members. This position has been acknowledged by other members of the Board of Directors, though Yolen Bollo-Kamara, vice-president, equity, and one of the UTSU’s representatives at the Summit, was unavailable for comment.

Harfouche said he was happy to be present at Tuesday’s meeting. According to Harfouche, the last occasion when his motions were discussed, he was not informed of the location, time, or even that his emails had been received by the union until after the meeting had taken place. Harfouche outlined the timeline of his exchanges, saying; “On Monday, I submitted the motions, on Wednesday, I emailed the UTSU asking them to confirm again, and on Friday I finally got a response that they had seen them. What they didn’t tell me was that a day earlier at 9:00 am they had already had a meeting and already ruled them all out of order.” He says he was told after the fact by the UTSU that he would have had to ask to get details of the meeting, “and I was like, ‘well why didn’t you tell me about it,’ and they said ‘oh you’d just have to ask’ and I was like ‘well, how am I supposed to know?’” The UTSU commented that since Harfouche attended the Policy Town Hall, where procedures for submitting motions were outlined, it was expected that he would be aware of the union’s policies.

Harfouche’s concerns about communication are echoed by Aimee Quenneville, who represents University College on the board. Quenneville said that in order to gain any information about the Student Societies Summit at any point so far, she has had to ask the executives directly. “We have not been informed at all,” she remarked. “I didn’t even know that the Student Societies Summit was taking place at all, and I was informed by the vice president of the University College Literary and Athletic Society. That’s how little we were told.” Quenneville also gave credit to the executives who have been trying to make the UTSU more transparent and accessible, but added that information has not always been forthcoming, especially considering the comparatively small number of members of the Board of Directors.

Some members of the Board of Directors are more concerned about the exclusion of these motions from the UTSU’s November 27 AGM. UTSU director Ben Coleman was one of the few who challenged the ruling. For him, it was a question of principle that motions for the AGM be as inclusive and representative as possible. In an email to The Varsity, he said: “If I were Pierre, I would have taken a different approach. However, I challenged the chair’s ruling because I believe we have a duty to consider motions from our members as fully as possible, regardless of whether or not we agree with them.”

Similarly, while recognizing that the motions contravened standing bylaws, Quenneville expressed measured support for their inclusion in the AGM: “I think that because this discussion is so important to students right now, it is something that should be brought to students for their own understanding and their own interpretation.” Benjamin Crase, also a director, and one of Trinity’s Heads of College, challenged the rulling as well, going so far as to say that Harfouche was “stonewalled.”

Even so, Crase does not see the AGM as the setting for questions of fee diversion. “It is a question that should be answered by an open and democratic referendum process held by the constituency in question, recognized by the University as outlined in University policy,” he wrote to The Varsity. The UTSU was pleased with the outcomes of Tuesday’s meeting, and said that the executive is looking forward to the AGM.

Little movement at third Student Societies Summit meeting

Divisions maintain stances on fractioning of student government

After what was described by the Summit Chair Joe Desloges as two meetings of “hard work, articulate, open, and creative discussion,” the Student Societies Summit reconvened for its third meeting on November 1 for further discussion, mediated by the U of T administration.

The agenda for the third meeting was set to discuss two main questions: “What would be at stake if the current structure of government became fractioned into separate entities” and, “How can the structure between U of T’s student governments be modified to prevent these possible issues from occurring?”

Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) president Jelena Savic stated that the discussions resulted in a consensus that a division of responsibilities between the various governments is necessary, stressing that they are dealing with a “slightly archaic structure that needs to be brought up to speed with the current needs and demands of students.”

Regarding the negative effects of a fractioned student government, Engineering Society (EngSoc) president Mauricio Curbelo added that the fractured nature of the governments would have little impact. Feasibility reports issued by the EngSoc and the Trinity College Meeting have claimed that they could easily replicate the the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) current services.

Benjamin Crase, Male Head of College at Trinity, expressed his disappointment with the current system, saying that the “ongoing Summit has highlighted the impossibility of suggesting compromise.” He was, however, optimistic that the prompts given at this meeting highlight the university’s attempt to resolve these discussions with a positive outcome.

When asked about the third meeting, UTSU president Munib Sajjad, who was not in attendance, stated that the UTSU remains committed to communicating with students while “maintaining the concern of excluding the UTSU clubs and service groups from the summit as an issue.”

More meetings are to follow in the near future.

EngSoc donates one million to U of T

AGM discusses eliminating VP external position, fee diversion

EngSoc donates one million to U of T

The University of Toronto Engineering Society (EngSoc) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October 30. A key point of focus at the meeting was a $1 million donation made by the EngSoc to the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CEIE), an initiative to build a new space on campus. The CEIE will be constructed behind Convocation Hall, and is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

The funding comes from the Skule Endowment Fund, to which each member of the EngSoc contributes $100 per year. This use of funds has caused some dispute among students, as the fund was not supposed to be used until two years after its inception. The purpose of the donation was to ensure a new high-quality campus space for engineering students. Architects have already planned and begun drawing the layout of the building, and the only decision left to be made is how the society should be thanked. The university has praised the donation, and has reported that it will name the space after the EngSoc.

Another issue discussed at the AGM was eliminating the position of vice-president, external, a move which engineering society president Mauricio Curbelo says will be a money-saver. One cost of maintaining the role is an expenses paid trip for the vice-president, external, on the premise of connecting with engineering societies at other Canadian universities. The EngSoc argues that other post-secondary institutions lack the experience of U of T’s, and that the meetings have resulted in wasted funds. To placate those not in favour of entirely eliminating the position, the office of vice-president, external, has been replaced by one called the “external relations director,” which is expected to be eliminated in upcoming years.



On the topic of the society’s finances, Gordon Tattle, the EngSoc’s vice-president, finance, stated: “My main focus this year regarding finance is accountability; it is my goal for you to be able to access online all records kept by clubs outlining where their funds have gone.”

Curbelo also spoke about the society’s ongoing position on proposed fee diversion from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). Curbelo said that the student experience of engineers is so significantly different from the arts and science student experience that engineers should have their own student group run separately from the UTSU. The EngSoc contends that its members have shown overwhelming support for the idea of redirecting fees from the UTSU to the EngSoc. It maintains that it can provide services identical or superior to those currently provided by the UTSU to the more than 5000 undergraduate students in engineering. The society adds that it has saved the funds necessary to financially take on the responsibilities of the UTSU should the change take effect.

Curbelo added that the EngSoc maintains its opposition to the formation of an engineering society at the Mississauga campus. He opposes the motion for a variety of reasons, one of which is the difficulty to students commuting from Mississauga to St. George campus to attend meetings for any of the 80 clubs downtown. The EngSoc also voted to retain BDO Canada LLP to perform its annual audit, which deals with an operating budget of approximately $300,000 per year.

Uneventful UTSU byelection comes to a close

Onik Khan elected VP external while Pierre Harfouche and Sanchit Mathur claim engineering seats

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) 2013 fall by-elections were held last week, with most of the positions going uncontested. The UTSU introduced online voting for the first time this election. The by-elections — held on October 15, 16, and 17 — were for one position on the Executive Committee for VP external and several positions on the Board of Directors. Directors for the transitional year program, the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, and the Faculty of Dentistry went uncontested, and the candidates were acclaimed.

This election was the first time the UTSU had online voting in addition to the usual physical polls located across campus. In September, the UTSU’s board approved online voting with limited hours, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, after more than a year of controversy surrounding online voting. At the time, the board indicated it hoped online voting would increase voter turnout. The turnout has been low in past years, reaching less than 7 per cent in last spring’s election. Unofficial results were announced on Friday evening. Onik Khan, the former VP campus life who ran unopposed for the seat of VP external, won with 1088 voting yes and 268 voting no. Khan’s election was the only one where all undergraduate students were eligible to vote; turnout was less than 4 per cent. There was an unusually high number of spoiled ballots in the VP external election with 253 ballots — approximately one-sixth of all votes cast, declared spoiled.

“I feel great about the results of the past two weeks of talking to students about issues such as the cost of education, transit, and how to make the student community at U of T stronger. My volunteers and I had a lot of great conversations with students in person about these issues, and how students can work together,” said Khan.

Khan went on to say that one of the first things he plans on working towards as VP external is getting students involved in a movement against flat fees. In a recent interview with The Varsity, Brad Duguid, minister of training, colleges and universities, revealed that he plans to alter the flat fees policy. Khan also wants to focus on reducing education costs and pedestrianizing the campus.

Additionally, Khan hopes to addresses broader community issues such as sweatshop working conditions. Khan intends to step down as VP campus life to assume his new position, which will automatically trigger an appointment process to fill the post.

Pierre Harfouche and Sanchit Mathur won the two seats for the faculty of engineering, beating out four other candidates. Despite his lack of campaigning, Harfouche came in first with 145 votes.  Mathur, who served on the board last year, came in second with 116.

Harfouche hopes to represent the engineering community, specifically on the issue of diverting fees from the UTSU. Harfouche, who was a prominent anti-union activist last year when he held the position of VP finance on the Engineering Society, said: “Engineers currently express the will to work with the UTSU but not be a part of the UTSU,” he said, while also stating his willingness on “working with the UTSU on issues that the engineers and students agree on.”

UTSU implements online voting

After more than a year of divisive debate, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) voted Friday to offer online voting for its upcoming October by-election.

Supporters hope that online voting will make voting more accessible to students. The motion to approve online voting follows three general meetings, a $17,000 lawyer’s report commissioned to study the impact, and a threat from the Provost’s office.

The board approved the recommendations of the Elections and Referendum Committee (ERC) almost unanimously, bringing online voting to UTSU elections this fall. The ERC proposed a motion to limit hours for online voting to 9 am–6 pm, with the intention of ensuring “a fair and secure election process.” The committee’s minutes state that the intention is to prevent candidates from campaigning during late evenings and overnight at social events where alcohol is present. Additionally, the motion is designed to ensure candidates who live on or near campus do not gain an unfair advantage.

Some directors, including arts & science at-large director Benjamin Coleman, who proposed a number of other electoral reforms that were also approved, raised concerns in the minutes. “We have a rule that prevents campaigning in residence during voting, a rule that prevents pressuring someone while they’re voting online, and a rule that prevents campaigning where alcohol is served — it’s a solution for problems that we already have rules for, so I don’t see how it justifies the huge loss of accessibility for students,” said Coleman, who sits on the ERC.

Benjamin Crase, UTSU board member for Trinity College, as well as co-head of the College, was similarly critical: “The purpose of an electoral policy is to account for the changes and elucidate the parameters needed to ensure a continued fair and safe elections process. Currently this motion is only stifling the creation of a more accessible electoral system,” he said. Crase was not able to attend the meeting. Aimee Quenneville, UTSU board member for University College, deputized on his behalf.

UTSU president Munib Sajjad spoke in favour of adopting online voting hours. Sajjad referred to instances of candidates campaigning to residence students during various council and college elections where online voting is used as explanation for the restricted hours.

UTSU vice-president, internal, Cameron Wathey spoke on behalf of the ERC. He confirmed that the executive will work with Simply Voting, a web-based online voting system. Testing of the system is expected to occur next week. Discussions between U of T and the ERC took place in order to ensure that the online voting system meets the university’s requirements for security and logistics. “The university’s involvement has simply been to provide support for implementation with the UTORid system. They have been truly helpful,” said Wathey. Students will be able to vote by logging in with their UTORid.

According to UTSU bylaws, ratifications to the Election Procedure Code may not have sections externalized. The Board of Directors may only send the document back to the ERC for review and revision. This prevents directors from voting on proposals one by one.

Among the electoral code changes approved Friday, the UTSU’s board eliminated the Elections and Referenda Appeals Committee, which used to be the final appeal body for election-related complaints. There will now be a two-step complaints process, with the Chief Returning Officer’s decisions appealable to the Elections and Referenda Committee only. The rules were also changed to standardize costs for common items, so groups of candidates don’t have a financial advantage by purchasing in bulk. Similarly, the reimbursement structure was changed in an attempt to eliminate any financial barriers that may cause candidates not to run.

The election will fill nine positions, including vice-president, external, one of five vice-presidents that are part of the executive committee. The vice-president, external, position requires a by-election because Sana Ali, who ran with this year’s executive in last spring’s election, resigned mid-campaign, citing concerns about the executives’ autonomy. Students can be nominated to run in the upcoming elections at any point before October 4. Voting will take place October 15– 17.

Student Societies Summit scheduled for October 7

The upcoming Student Societies Summit is causing increased tension among the parties concerned. Student representatives, including the heads of student government from each college and the Engineering Society (EngSoc), have been invited to discuss referenda by the Trinity College Meeting (TCM), Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC), and EngSoc, among other topics. The referenda called for the diversion of student fees, currently being paid to UTSU, to their respective student societies. The UTSU considers the referenda illegitimate.

Announced on September 12,  the summit will bring together representatives from over 20 student groups, as well as those from the factulty and administration. Student leaders have expressed varying degrees of confidence in the summit’s potential.

UTSU president Munib Sajjad is concerned about those student groups who were not invited to attend, including clubs who would be directly affected by fee diversion, and campus-wide unions such as the Association of Part Time Undergraduate Students’ Union (APUS). Although those groups will have the opportunity to make written submissions, Sajjad feels their absence will have a real impact: “Statements only go so far” he said, adding: “I feel there’s real value in having everyone in the room.” Of those student groups who will have an in person presence on October 7, many remain skeptical of the summit’s ability to affect change.

Mauricio Curbelo, president of EngSoc, holds the same position he has held since the referendum: he wants the UTSU fees diverted. Among numerous complaints, Curbelo is concerned about the significant cost that the UTSU maintains by having a salaried staff. “Engineering students made their wish clear in our referendum,” he said, “They would rather have services and representation provided by a more local organization that doesn’t spend 50 percent of its budget on salaries — one that is made up of actual students who understand what their life is like, rather than paid staffers and lifetime professional activists.”

Ashkan Azimi, President of New College Student Council (NCSC), on the other hand, finds the notion of college governments wanting to take on the UTSU’s job problematic. He understands the concerns of the various student societies who want to defederate due to endemic complaints about the union. However, he points out that UTSU staff are full time employees who have copious resources at their disposal. It would be misguided, he argues, for any organization to try to take on the union’s responsibilities without an analogous infrastructure.

“UTSU is composed of many full time employees, as well as a slew of volunteers,” he says. “They have all these resources at their disposal, and for these student societies, such as the NCSC, for us to want to tackle such tasks without having that administrative and financial backbone is very naive to me.”

At least some of the defederating colleges do not seem to have a clear idea of what sort of changes they would effect if the UTSU’s funds were redirected to them. “What we have decided to do is to take this year as a reflection and planning period,” said Zack Medow, vice-president, external, when asked what VUSAC’s policy plans are in the event that defederation is approved. “Those sorts of questions are going to be asked over the course of the year,” said Medow, adding that he would submit any final plan to the students of Victoria College at the end of this year.

Trinity and the EngSoc have more definite plans for this year. The EngSoc compiled a comprehensive report detailing the UTSU’s services and explaining for each one either how the EngSoc could provide it or why it is unnecessary. The document is similar to one prepared at Trinity. It revolves mainly around the contention that defederation could save engineering students the fees currently being paid to UTSU’s salaried employees, as EngSoc is staffed entirely by student volunteers.

Benjamin Crase, co-head of Trinity College, agrees. “Trinity students understand that they see a terrible return for the fees they pay the UTSU,” he said. “Since the majority of student fees go towards paying their salaries and overhead costs, such dissatisfaction is not surprising. At Trinity, we believe that student volunteers, who have a vested interest in their fellow students, should run our
student government.”

Some student governments have taken a decidedly ambivalent stance on the issue. The St. Michael’s College Student Union, (SMCSU), for instance, has weighed the potential advantages and disadvantages of diverting fees from the UTSU. Alex Zappone, president of the SMCSU, acknowledges that some criticisms of the union may be  valid. “I can say on behalf of SMCSU, most bodies would of course have issues with the UTSU, but are largely concerned with developing St. Mikes and haven’t spend too much time on it,” he says. He added that he is curious to see what the results of the summit will be, and that while St. Mikes’ has considered fee diversion, no final decision, one way or the other, has been made.

Professor Joe Desloges, who will serve as chair of the summit, expressed hope that all parties will enter discussions with an open mind, willing to seek a possible middle ground. However, the issue of whether or not paid staff are a wasted expense or a necessary resource for providing student services seems to be one on which student leaders disagree.

The first meeting of the Summit will take place on October 7 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm in Simcoe Hall in the Governing Council chambers.

Skepticism, concern greet Student Societies Summit

Provost invites more than 20 student groups to address long-standing issues

Skepticism, concern greet Student Societies Summit

Following months of silence, Provost Cheryl Regehr released a statement on Thursday outlining details of the upcoming Student Societies Summit. This is the latest mediation effort by the administration, meant to resolve ongoing issues between various student societies. The summit cannot effect policy change. Since the statement’s release, some student leaders have expressed reservations about the possibility that the summit will lead to a meaningful resolution.

The conflict revolves around referenda, considered illegitimate by the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), that were conducted by the Trinity College Meeting (TCM), the Engineering Society (EngSoc), and the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC). The referenda approved the diversion of fees from the UTSU, in resistance to what societies claim are undemocratic and unrepresentative practices — although the VUSAC referendum fell short of the required voter turnout. The fee diversion issue prompted Governing Council to postpone the Student Commons, a project for U of T’s first student-run space, which is in its seventh year of negotiation.

Jelena Savic, president of VUSAC, expressed concern about the fact that the Summit cannot effect policy change. “I was under the impression that we were going to partake in a policy review process, not a continuation of the largely unsuccessful facilitated discussion that had occurred earlier this year,” she said. In response to Savic’s concerns, UTSU president Munib Sajjad cited the hundreds of student leaders not invited to the summit. “Any policy change must be the democratic will of the membership at large, and not imposed without them having the opportunity to add to the conversation.” Professor Joe Desloges, who will act as chair of the summit, stated that if the summit does not come to a resolution, and it therefore becomes necessary to undertake further analysis of the issues in question, the issues may be considered as part of a policy review. This echoes a part of the provost’s statement, which reinforces that only Governing Council can effect policy change.

Savic also cited concerns about the speed with which the administration is tackling the issues, stating that half of the students who had voted in the referenda will graduate at the end of this year. “I am deeply concerned for the momentum of this potentially revolutionary movement. It would break my heart if the hard work and dedication of last year’s executives and this year’s leaders fizzled into a perpetuation of this cyclical dissatisfaction with the state of student governance on campus.” She added that she intends to enter the discussion prepared to listen, and hopes that the summit results in meaningful change in student governance at U of T.

The summit is the second mediation attempt by the administration, following a seven-hour session led by law professor Brian Langille this June, which did not lead to a resolution. “Our mediation session with. Langille highlighted the futility of trying to construct a middle ground on a black and white issue. The UTSU either continues to take Trinity students’ money, or the money is remitted to the TCM to provide superior services to Trinity students,” said Benjamin Crase, co-head of Trinity College. “Frankly, we are currently in a position where compromise is not a tenable solution to the deep-seated mistrust and discontent felt by Trinity students.”

Crase also stated that, as far as the fee diversion issue, the numbers of students who voted to divert fees from the UTSU speak for themselves. “Over the course of this year, I predict a period of unprecedented change. Delaying the Student Commons decision clearly demonstrates that the university shares this understanding and agrees that fee diversion is a viable option that needs to be accounted for.” In response to this statement, Sajjad stated that “the university and the UTSU made the decision to delay the approval of the Commons together, to give the UTSU an opportunity to address concerns without giving rise to new ones.”

Sajjad expressed optimism that the Summit will lead to a resolution agreed upon and beneficial to the entire membership. He stressed that he is primarily interested in developing relationships of collaboration and respect between the UTSU and its peers at other unions. “The conversations we will have at the summit will be assuredly continued when we converse amongst ourselves,” he said.

Mauricio Curbelo, president of EngSoc, stressed that the institutional interests of both the UTSU and the EngSoc must take a backseat to what he views as the democratically-expressed will of students, as articulated in the referenda. “The ideal outcome [of the summit] would be one that permits students, through student societies, to self-determine via fee diversion — that is, to be able to have the more local organization provide services and representation.” He cited dissatisfaction with the representation and services provided by the UTSU to EngSoc, adding that attempts to resolve this issue through the UTSU’s own processes have proven to be unsuccessful.

Desloges stated that his prefered outcome is one that is democratically formulated by the student societies, with respect to their different interests. He hopes that expert advice on democratic structures, as well as input from the large group of student groups invited to attend the summit, will help to inform the outcome. Faculty members set to attend the summit include professors Donald Ainslie, Graham White, and Linda White, who will be joined by at least three representatives from the administration. At least 20 student societies and associations are invited to attend the summit, many of which are not directly involved in the fee diversion issue.

A number of other groups, including “student clubs, and other members of the University community” have been invited to submit written statements. The summit will centre on two discussion questions focused on the democratic structure of student governments. The first asks students to consider the current policy structure, with four representative student groups, supported by mandatory fee deductions from students, recognized by Governing Council. It asks, “how can the sometimes distinct interests of divisional societies be supported and respected in a democratic manner?” The second asks: “What are the implications of these answers on the evolution of the democratic structures of the student governments or on fee support for the activities of the divisional societies?” The administration originally asked each student society to submit the names of two representatives for this event by September 1, but extended the deadline to September 15. The process is expected to involve multiple meetings, with the scheduling of the first meeting set to take place next week.