Demand Better wins most UTSU executive positions, unofficial election results show

Carina Zhang of We the Students, independent Anne Boucher also  elected

Demand Better wins most UTSU executive positions, unofficial election results show

The unofficial results of the University of Toronto Students Union (UTSU) elections, which were released shortly after 7 pm Thursday, show that the 2017-2018 executive will comprise mostly individuals associated with the Demand Better slate.

The voter turnout was 11.8 per cent, an increase from last year’s 9.7 per cent.

Demand Better presidential candidate Mathias Memmel was elected over opponents Andre Fast of We the Students, John Sweeney of Whomst’d’ve UofT, and independent candidate Joshua Hands. Reboot candidate Micah Ryu was not on the ballot after being disqualified on Monday.

Voting was conducted using the single-transferrable vote, in which students can rank candidates in their order of preference. Fast received a plurality of first choice votes in the first round but lost to Memmel as the rounds progressed, with Memmel accumulating more second choice votes after Sweeney’s elimination.

Daman Singh of Demand Better was elected Vice-President Internal in the second round by a margin of 354 votes after former Reboot candidate Jessica Leung’s 823 votes were redistributed to Singh and We the Students candidate Jackie Zhao.

Carina Zhang, the only We the Students candidate elected to the executive, won the Vice-President University Affairs position handily after she received a total of 3,447 votes after redistribution.

Independent candidate Anne Boucher was elected Vice-President External, receiving more second choice votes than her opponents from We the Students, Demand Better, and Reboot and winning the position after four rounds.

Chim Alao, Demand Better’s candidate for Vice-President Equity was elected by a margin of 1933 votes to 1621 over We the Students candidate Michelle Mabira. Former Reboot candidate Keelie-Shay Eaid was eliminated in the first round with 576 first place votes.

Stuart Norton, also of Demand Better, was elected Vice-President Campus Life after two rounds.

Finally, Shivani Nathoo of Demand Better, receiving first-place votes in all four rounds, has filled the Vice-President Professional Faculties position.

Of the elections for UTSU directors 13 Demand Better candidates were successful, according to the unofficial results, along with three from We the Students, three from Reboot, and two independents.

The results will be official once they are ratified by the UTSU board of directors.

Also on the ballot were referendum questions, the first asking for a 50 cent levy to fund accessibility services at the UTSU, and the second from the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT) asking for a $2.77 levy to send a satellite to space. Both referendums passed, with 54.8 per cent support for UTAT’s referendum and 67.6 per cent support for the accessibility levy.

This story is developing, more to follow.

 

At least six Reboot candidates withdraw from slate

Withdrawal motivated by risk of disqualification

At least six Reboot candidates withdraw from slate

Several candidates from the Reboot U of T slate have withdrawn from the slate during the first day of voting. Keelie-Shay Eaid, Vice-President Equity candidate, and Jenny Yue, Vice-President Professional Faculites candidate, have issued statements on their Facebook pages indicating that they have withdrawn from the slate.

Eaid and Yue are each 10 demerit points away from the maximum allowable for executive candidates.

Victoria College Director candidate Alex Bercik, Dentistry Director candidate Joanna Man; Professional Faculties at-Large Director candidate Tony Ye, and Social Sciences Director candidate, Jane Tien have also declared their withdrawal from the slate. These candidates have accrued 20 demerit points, the maximum allowable amount for director candidates.

A portion of the statement written to The Varsity on behalf of the slate reads: “Many Reboot members have decided to disband in order to avoid further demerits for the whole slate, altogether. The ERC/CRO has placed many Reboot candidates on the edge of disqualification and has hence forced them dissociate. In light of the recent disqualification of 5 members, other Reboot members were placed in a very tight spot. However, the members still have the same platform goals even as individuals.”

On March 13, five candidates from the slate, including the presidential candidate, Micah Ryu, had incurred enough demerit points to be disqualified. A statement on was issued on Reboot UofT’s Facebook page, saying that the candidates were withdrawing from the UTSU elections. They are still able to appeal the ERC’s decisions.

Eaid says that she and others have decided to “dissassociate [sic] with the slate in order to avoid any further demerit points from comments that were/are being left on our (Facebook) page.”

She notes that they had incurred 8 demerit points for one comment on a post and 10 on another. She also said that she will not be disavowing the slate’s platform, and she did not believe the other candidates would either.

“For some candidates that still have a very solid chance at winning their seat, continuing on as a slate was no longer worth the risk of being targeted. In particular, our former Dentistry candidate is running unopposed and the faculty would have no board representation for several months if she was disqualified, and based on the way the DROOP quota system works, we think it’s very likely for some of our college directors to win their seats as well,” Eaid explained.

“We came together because of shared ideas. We are splitting up so we no longer have to be liable for each others’ actions. This isn’t a betrayal of ideas, it’s a dropping of liabilities,” Eaid went on.

Avinash Mukkala, the slate’s recently disqualified Life Sciences Director candidate, also echoed Eaid’s reasoning, saying that the Elections and Referenda Committee had “placed us in a very tight spot at the edge of disqualification for many individuals.” He also noted that his disqualification meant that “further affiliation would be at too high of a risk.”

Riley Moher, one of the slate’s disqualified Engineering Director candidates, said that he would not be appealing the decision because of what he had heard from other slate members’ experiences trying to overturn decisions.

“I think the role of the ERC and CRO is too great, and the application of the rules of the election can be subject to too much subjectivity and political influence,” Moher said, adding that he was not hopeful of  “stamping out corruption and politicization within the UTSU within the current student politics climate.”

According to Ryan Gomes, Chair of the ERC, these actions may not be perceived by the ERC or the appellate board as truly disavowing the slate.

“I think that they would have a harder time convincing the ERC or the appellate board that this actually was a disbanding of the slate, especially considering that they’re still all on the website and they’re not disavowing their platform and the names on the ballot still say Reboot… I think it would be a difficult sell,” Gomes said.

At the time of the interview with Gomes, the candidates’ profiles were still shown on the Reboot UofT website, however, the candidates page was empty at press time.

Ryu confirms that they were “looking into disbanding the slate.” He also brought up the example of Reboot UofT’s former Dentistry Director candidate, saying that she had “done nothing with respect to any of the violations, and isn’t gaining any advantages from those violations since she’s running unopposed.”

“They keep handing out points as a slate and that was about to disqualify a lot more people. Our 3 engineering director candidates were only put over the top… because of how many points they gave us for not policing our Facebook page comments well enough,” Ryu said.

A look into campaign techniques in the UTSU elections

We the Students hires marketing firm, Whomst’d’ve does not print posters

A look into campaign techniques in the UTSU elections

The online presence of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU)election campaigns has been growing with each successive election. The Varsity spoke with candidates from Demand Better, Reboot UofT, Whomst’d’ve  UofT, and independent candidate Anne Boucher on their digital strategies. We the Students was unavailable for a live interview and replied to The Varsity’s requests over email.

Demand Better is campaigning on a wide range of social media platforms in this year’s elections, with a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, and WeChat, a Chinese social media website. Mathias Memmel, Demand Better’s presidential candidate, says that the slate’s social media presence is handled by a team of volunteers and the slate had budgeted $1500 for their online campaign, including web hosting, Facebook, and Snapchat advertisements — about half as much as the cost of printing posters.

Memmel, who also campaigned in last year’s elections with the Hello UofT slate, noted that there has been a “shift” towards online campaigning.

“I printed… fewer [posters] this year than I did last year. And that’s just on the basis that the Facebook posts gain more attraction and more engagement than a bunch of posters. I don’t know actually how much people read the posters if I’m being perfectly honest,” he said, noting that the use of posters has become “more of a psychological battle.”

Whomst’d’ve’s candidate for Vice-President Professional Faculties, Veronika Potylitsina, also noted an apparent “feud” over posters. Her slate chose not to have posters, because they felt “weird” being reimbursed by the UTSU for running a satirical campaign.

Potylitsina believes that the satirical nature of her slate has resonated with people who are “tired of the whole slate politics” and this has resulted in supporters posting up memes.

“We actually have not made our own memes, I guess. A lot of the students have been engaging by creating their own since we’ve started running,” she said.

Potylitsina also said that the slate debated whether to specify that the memes were created by arms-length parties in order to avoid being penalized with demerit points.

“There’s a fine line but nobody has reported us so I guess it’s ok,” she said.

In contrast, Jessica Leung, Reboot’s candidate for Vice-President Internal, said that the slate first started making its own memes for “boosting group morale,” and then decided to share them “to connect with students.”

While their memes have gotten  attention, Leung says that they were “not seeing the engagement that [they] expected.”

“That’s how it is with memes, you don’t just design a viral thing. It’s really difficult to think about what picks up and resonates with people,” Leung explained, adding, “It was a lot of fun for us to work on.”

Leung also said that Reboot was “planning on switching much more heavily towards digital” campaigning and that the change was motivated by allegations of the slate’s posters being taken down and the risk of incurring more demerit points.

Reboot has spent $6000 on print materials and has paid students to create their website.

“Facebook posts and advertising are substantially cheaper… but we don’t fully quite understand the potential of using them yet, because this is our first time running such a campaign,” Leung explained.

Demand Better is also using targeted Facebook advertisements. Memmel described an example in which the slate slate ensures ads with platform points like a tuition increase cap reaches international students.

“We don’t have to waste our money or time advertising that to domestic students whom it doesn’t benefit, right? So we’re very strategic in terms of our ads, as opposed to running multiple, running few large campaigns, we prefer to run hundreds of small campaigns targeted at small communities,” said Memmel.

Anne Boucher, independent candidate for Vice-President External, knows that larger-scale campaigns run by slates puts her at a disadvantage “because you have more people working together, figuring out what’s the best thing we could be doing today online. So you have a lot of people who can contribute ideas… I can ask some friends what they think I should post but they don’t have contacts or anything,” Boucher said.

Boucher restricts her campaign to Facebook and Reddit, spending $100 on Facebook advertisements for her page and self-shot video.

“I didn’t want to expand too much, because I knew that I would probably just be doing a little bit of each, which is not effective and I thought that sticking to a few things fully would probably have better results,” Boucher explained.

However, Boucher believes that her disadvantage in online campaigning pales in comparison to the disadvantage she has in physical campaigning. “People who have a full team, who are each campaigning, at the end of the day, they could be taking their time with it and they would still reach more people than I would,” she said, adding that with social media, she “just [had] to be on ball and come up with good ideas.”

Boucher has also made use of posters for her campaign.

While Boucher had to ask a friend to build her website, We the Students hired Splash Effect, a marketing agency, to build theirs.

Andre Fast, We the Students’ candidate for President, explained the slate’s hire: “Given the newer and shorter nomination period, it is too much to ask a full-time student to volunteer their time to develop a campaign website in less than a week so we hired a student from SplashEffect to design our website,” he said. This year’s nomination period lasted eight days, compared to last year’s 12 day nomination period.

Memmel argued that We the Students’ use of an “outside media company” is “both in violation of the EPC and immoral.” Boucher’s and all the other slates’ websites were built by U of T students.

Fast has not replied to requests to clarify if the student from SplashEffect who designed the website is a UTSU member.

The Varsity has not been able to find any posters, social media accounts, or a website for independent presidential candidate Joshua Hands, with the exception of one post on the U of T subreddit. The Varsity’s repeated attempts to reach out to Hands have been unsuccessful.

Presidential candidates face off in UTSU debate hosted by The Varsity

Micah Ryu announces departure from Reboot UofT

Presidential candidates face off in UTSU debate hosted by <em>The Varsity</em>

On Monday March 13, The Varsity hosted a presidential debate featuring presidential candidates for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) election.

The debate was moderated by The Varsity’s Editor-in-Chief Alex McKeen and News Editor Tom Yun, and featured Mathias Memmel of Demand Better, Andre Fast of We the Students, and John Sweeney of Whomst’d’ve UofT, and Micah Ryu, who announced at the debate that he was no longer affiliated with Reboot UofT.

 Although The Varsity reached out to independent presidential candidate Joshua Hands inviting him to the debate, he did not attend.

Advocacy, Equity, and Free Speech

The presidential candidates were asked questions about what role the UTSU would play in the areas of advocating initiatives, ensuring equity, and promoting free speech. Each candidate agreed that the UTSU should be active in these areas, but differed either in the methods or priorities in dealing with the topics.

Memmel insisted that the UTSU should work on the “broad level issues” which are often “policy-related issues”, such as tuition. He also stated that the UTSU should deal with issues “that have to do with supporting and representing marginalized students on campus.”

In regards to free speech, Memmel said that the UTSU should not provide “a platform” for “bigoted ideas to be elevated.” He believes that some groups on campus have “now become magnets for hate speech” and that “they have nothing to do with free speech at all.”

Sweeney believed in a more input-based approach. Sweeney asserted that, if elected, he would “collect input” from students to learn “what they want and how they want us to carry out these advocacy efforts.”

When asked about the topic of free speech, Sweeney answered by saying “I agree that free speech is very important especially on university and that people should be willing to hear opinions that they don’t necessarily want to hear. But that being said, it is not acceptable to be in any way threatening or abusive towards any other groups of students.”

Fast specifically advocated for ensuring help and equality for marginalized students.

“The type of work that we feel that the union should be working on is the type of work that would support those students on campus that are most marginalized; that’s the big theme of our campaign,” said Fast.

Arguing for a different approach, Ryu stated that clubs, and not the UTSU, should handle issues regarding advocacy, equity, and free speech. Ryu stated that “the UTSU should step back from these issues and empower smaller groups to advocate for themselves through club’s funding”.

Management within the UTSU

A question that was submitted by email asked the candidates how they would intend to operate with less staff, a platform point for both Memmel and Ryu.

Memmel answered by saying that his experience at the UTSU has taught him that not all of the positions are “necessary and that we can still provide the same quality of service in a more resourceful and more efficient way”.

Memmel noted that the UTSU spends “almost 50 per cent of its budget on HR” which makes it difficult to “do anything else that’s meaningful.” The actual amount that the UTSU spends on human resources is closer to 40 per cent.

Ryu expressed skepticism over some of the current full-time positions, saying, “the question sort of falls apart on itself when you look at some of the positions that currently exist.”

Sweeney’s answer to the question was based off his experiences with the Engineering Society at U of T. He suggested that, like the Engineering Society, the UTSU “could utilize more volunteer work” in order to reduce costs and “increase the efficiency of the services” that the UTSU provides.

In contrast to the other candidates, Fast’s response was more supportive of the current jobs in the UTSU. He said that “it’s really important that we have people [at the UTSU] who do know how these services work and are able to implement them.”

Fast also stated that he believes in “the value of student jobs.” He continued by saying that “it’s really important that students are able to find employment in our student union to help pay for the costs of tuition and rent.”

UTM

A question submitted online by a student from the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus (UTM) sparked some heated discussion during the forum. The question referred to UTM students often feeling alienated from the UTSU elections.

“Frankly, UTM students should fuck off,” said Ryu in response to the question. “They have their own student union, they don’t belong in the UTSU. We’re two different campuses with two totally different campus cultures and it’s really a shame that the two organizations are linked together at all.”

Fast immediately repudiated Ryu’s statements: “I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s acceptable that someone can sit up here and tell a huge part of our membership — and I think that it’s important that, as the moderators of this debate, you don’t allow this platform to be used to tell something like a quarter of our membership and disrespect them in that way.”

With regards to UTM, Sweeney said that his slate would pursue a process for UTM to leave the UTSU if UTM students agree.

Memmel stated that he had reached out to UTMSU vice-president Internal Jackie Zhao — who is currently running for vice-president Internal with We The Students U of T — twice this past year and both times “was met with hostility.” He followed-up saying the UTSU needs to “reevaluate how we’re supporting students at UTM.”

Future Relationship with Administration

The Varsity asked the presidential candidates about the balance between student union autonomy and administration-led accountability measures. This issue comes as the passing of the Policy on Open, Accessible, and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations last summer, which gave more oversight to administration. In addition, a new policy at St. Michael’s College now has an academic advisor — who is a member of the administration — designated to each of its three student organizations.

Sweeney answered the question first, highlighting Whomst’d’ve’s view on the matter. He said, “Long story short, we’re committed to a decentralized approach to letting smaller groups take governance of themselves.”

Fast argued for student-union independence saying that “there’s a lot of cases, as a student union, where what’s best for students isn’t necessarily being represented by the admin.” Fast mentioned U of T’s investment in fossil fuel companies and U of T funds contributing to the United States prison system.

Memmel stated that he was in support of the Policy on Open, Accessible, and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations. He added that autonomy in student organizations is “in principle, a core function of any student group.” However, Memmel added that administration should have the power to “withhold fees free these organizations when corruption is internalized…”

Ryu argued that the UTSU is not effective in influencing the administration because the “admin doesn’t see the UTSU as a proper representative of the student body any more than the students themselves do.”

Voting is open until March 16 at utsu.simplyvoting.com.

Five Reboot candidates, including Micah Ryu, obtain enough demerit points to be disqualified

Demerit points issued in connection to alleged transphobic comments left on Facebook page

Five Reboot candidates, including Micah Ryu, obtain enough demerit points to be disqualified

The Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC) of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has issued a string of demerit points to Reboot UofT connected to alleged transphobic comments left on its Facebook page, resulting in the disqualification of five of its candidates.

Reboot presidential candidate Micah Ryu has accumulated 38 demerit points while Life Sciences Director candidate Avinash Mukkala has 30. Engineering Director candidates Allan Cheung, Riley Moher, and Calix Zhang have 21 demerit points.

Executive candidates need to accumulate over 35 demerit points in order to be disqualified. At-large director candidates need more than 25, while other director candidates need more than 20.

All executive and director candidates for Reboot received 8 demerit points after a comment was left by an unaffiliated party on a Reboot Facebook post in which “the individual intentionally misgendered a member of the Executive,” according to the ERC page on the UTSU website.

Bridgette Dalima, the Chief Returning Officer, did not issue any demerit points and urged candidates to “better patrol” comments on Facebook. However, the ERC issued 8 demerit points for the entire slate, as Reboot made several Facebook posts within the 14 hours the comment was up.

“Not only was there a reasonable expectation that the page would have been notified by this comment being posted, they were additionally notified by a concerned community member through a direct tag to the page,” the ERC wrote. “Any individual with admin access to the page who was posting some of these social media posts would have seen both the original comment and the community member flagging the concern.”

Dalima received another complaint related to “deliberate lackadaisical approach to the moderating of their Facebook page, particularly in regards to recent trans-phobic posts and comments from followers on the Reboot Facebook page,” according to the ERC page, and issued three demerit points to the entire slate.

However, the ERC found that members of the slate had allegedly ‘liked’ one of the comments in question. The committee overturned the three demerit points and issued 10 points for the entire slate.

Ryu has also faced allegations of transphobia after comments he previously made on Facebook resurfaced last week.

The Varsity has reached out to Ryu for comment.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that eight demerit points were issued to the Reboot slate as a result of a comment left by an unaffiliated party on a slate Facebook post. The demerit points were not issued as a result of the post itself.

Reboot UofT issued 10 demerit points

CRO says slate violated rules against pre-campaigning

Reboot UofT issued 10 demerit points

The executive candidates for Reboot UofT, a slate running for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) elections, have been issued 10 demerit points for violating pre-campaigning rules, as ruled by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO).

On February 14, The Varsity revealed Reboot’s tentative platform and list of executive candidates. Reboot’s presidential candidate, Micah Ryu, spoke to The Varsity about some aspects of his platform, including clubs funding and a plan to dissolve executive positions in the future. 

The CRO presented a ruling that issued 10 demerit points to each executive candidate based on “gross violation of the Elections Procedure Codes Article VI pertaining to pre-campaign (1a) and Fair Play (1g, sub-section v1).”

The ruling noted how Ryu acknowledged in the article that speaking to The Varsity could be considered pre-campaigning, and he “knowingly proceeded to violate the rules.” The ruling considered Ryu’s decision as a “lack of appropriate judgement and respect.”

Reboot UofT’s director candidates were not issued demerit points, as they were not mentioned in the February 14 article.

Ryu told The Varsity that he plans to appeal the decision.

Demerit points are issued when candidates violate election rules found in the UTSU’s Elections and Procedures Code. Any executive candidate who earns 35 demerit points will be disqualified from the election. 

Last year, the 1UofT slate was disqualified for failing to provide notarized translations of Chinese campaign material into English to the CRO.

Voting in the UTSU elections will run from March 14–16 and will be available online at utsu.simplyvoting.com.

— With files from Tom Yun

Tensions flare at UTSU over in camera meetings

VP UA releases statement criticizing February 9 meeting proceedings

Tensions flare at UTSU over in camera meetings

Questions regarding in camera meeting sessions have been raised after a tense Board of Directors meeting at the University of Toronto Students’ Union.

When the Board of Directors votes to move in camera, anyone who is not a director, executive, or staff member must exit the room and any discussions that happen during the in camera session are not recorded in the minutes.

During the February 9 meeting, the board voted to move in camera to discuss the union’s ongoing lawsuit against its former executive director, Sandra Hudson, and to continue the discussion from an in camera session that took place at the January 27 board meeting.

The union’s legal dispute with Hudson began in September 2015, and it alleges that Hudson was improperly issued almost a quarter of a million dollars in severance pay. Hudson subsequently countersued the union for $300,000, alleging racism and harassment from leaders within the UTSU.

“Going in camera when we did was a breach of our duties to our students, and quoting policy at me and others is just a distraction from UTSU’s refusal to engage in good faith with Black students about issues of anti-Black racism,” said UTSU Vice-President University Affairs Cassandra Williams.

Mathias Memmel, VP Internal declined to comment on anything that was said in camera, writing in an email to The Varsity, “That’s how going in camera works.” He explained that the union’s Board of Directors has “consistently discussed the lawsuit, and everything related to the lawsuit, in camera.”

Williams revealed that during the in camera session, she attempted to add a motion on the agenda regarding the lawsuit.

“The motion in question would commit UTSU to engaging with Black students and student groups on the issue of anti-Black racism and the lawsuit for which we have repeatedly heard concerns about anti-Black racism. Past commitments to meaningfully engage with racism and anti-Blackness have been empty, and this is something that UTSU ought to find tremendously concerning,” Williams said in an email statement.

“Further, the motion would ensure that the Board of Directors — who have ultimate authority over the lawsuit — actually have the opportunity to have their voices heard on a lawsuit that has been kept out of their hands despite their authority on the matter,” she continued.

In October 2016, the Black Liberation Collective (BLC) staged a protest at the UTSU office, demanding an end to the union’s lawsuit against Hudson.

Members of the BLC also came to observe the proceedings of the February 9 board meeting, but they had to leave once the meeting entered into an in camera session, along with all other non-board members in the room.

“We’ve done this not because the whole thing is confidential—although much of it is—but because giving the opposing party insight into our internal debates could be very damaging to our legal position,” Memmel explained. “You can’t go in camera to avoid awkward situations, but you can go in camera when there are things that you don’t want opposing parties to know. Student governments often abuse the ability to go in camera, so we’ve been very careful not to do that.”

After the meeting was no longer in camera, Williams announced that none of the information that was discussed in camera was confidential. A heated exchange between Williams, New College Director Sila Elgin, Woodsworth College Director Christina Badiola, and Vice-President Equity Farah Noori followed.

During the meeting, Elgin defended the use of in camera session, saying, “This board is not a space where a lot of people feel comfortable talking, and for people to say that we are avoiding transparency by having in camera discussions is outright disgusting and disrespectful.”

In response, Noori, who was also serving as the meeting’s anti-harassment officer, pushed back at Elgin’s statement, and suggested that people defending the in camera session should “stop victimizing themselves.” To this Badiola responded, “You’re the anti-harassment officer, and you just told someone to ‘stop victimizing themselves.’”

Memmel weighed in on the exchange during the meeting: “After somebody has just announced that they’re not necessarily speaking in this space, and that they want their thoughts to be brought outside of the meeting, and therefore, they feel the need to have it in camera, to then have that completely ignored is disgusting and it’s cruel.”

View this document on Scribd

On February 23, Williams released a 1100-word public statement about the ordeal on the UTSU’s official letterhead.

“When it came time to discuss adding this motion to the agenda, the Board voted to go in camera, kick those Black students out of the room, and ensure that there would be no record of the Board’s private conversation,” a part of Williams’s statement reads.

In her statement, Williams asserts that Elgin “claimed that it was justifiable to kick those Black students out of the room and have an off-the-record discussion because not everyone feels ‘comfortable’ speaking openly” and criticizes Memmel’s use of the word “disgusting” in his statement at the board meeting.

Williams also writes that Badiola “attempted to silence these concerns by citing procedural technicalities — effectively silencing discussion about UTSU acting non-transparently, and acting in a way that could be reasonably considered racist.”

Williams further alleges in the statement that Elgin “has in the past also commented that it is wrong to criticize UTSU for its lack of commitment to trans students and trans issues because not everyone feels ‘comfortable’ enough to be an ally and support trans people.”

“These events constitute just one chapter in what seems to be a never-ending story about the Union’s neglect for Black students and issues of anti-Black racism,” the statement concludes.

Memmel responded by clarifying that his comments at the meeting were in reference to Noori and not Williams.

“I’m an adult with a job to do, and​ going through every lie in that extended tweet would be a waste of my time,” he told The Varsity.

Echoing Memmel’s comments about the use of in camera sessions, Badiola told The Varsity, “It does not matter if what is said in camera is ‘legally confidential’ or not. If something is said in camera, it cannot be repeated outside of an in camera session without breaking Canadian law.”

Badiola also called it “absurd” that she was singled out for making such statements. “Many other directors brought up my same exact points, in that what was said in camera cannot be repeated outside of an in camera session, whether anyone likes it or not. The fact that [Williams] has chosen to single me out and not the other directors who made the exact same points as me right after me goes to show that this statement was not solely written out of a desire to be ‘transparent’ but also to target myself and other specific board members, out of a personal vendetta,” she said.

In addition, Badiola attached a document with the UTSU’s official letterhead and a statement addressed to “RE: All of you,” saying “Eat my ass.” This was an attempt to demonstrate, she stated, that “anyone can use UTSU letterhead, and it doesn’t make it an official statement.”

Elgin denied that she was justifying excluding Black students.

“My interests were to remind my fellow directors and the executive that we have had conversations about how difficult it can be to speak to a room of sixty people without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed,” she told The Varsity.

“I use these words because disabilities and mental illnesses are complex and can be quite personalized, and I did not want to speak on behalf of my fellow directors,” she said.

Regarding Williams’ allegation that Elgin made comments regarding the UTSU’s commitment to trans issues, Elgin responded: “I cannot comment on a conversation that did not take place. I have always firmly held my ground that a university of this size will have students from multiple backgrounds that create a number of different factors in their lives, all of which contribute to their mental health. I am well aware of the mental health issues our trans students are facing, and by no means was erasing that fact, but it is important to remember that they are not alone in this fight against mental illness.”

On February 26, Elgin informed The Varsity of her intention to resign from the UTSU Board of Directors.

Noori and the BLC did not return The Varsity’s requests for comment.

Disclosure: Sila Elgin contributes to The Varsity’s Photo, Features, Comment, and Arts & Culture sections.

Documents reveal “tentative platform” of UTSU elections slate

“Reboot U of T” plans to cut salaries, dissolve executive positions

View this document on Scribd

Documents obtained by The Varsity from a confidential source comprise a portion of the campaign plan of an apparent UTSU elections slate by the name of Reboot UofT, which reveals a “tentative” eight-point platform plan to overhaul the union.

One document appears to be a list of candidates to run with Reboot UofT. The executive candidates listed are: Micah Ryu for President, Jessica Leung for Vice President Internal and Services, Keelie-Shay Eaid for Vice President Equity, Micael Thompson for Vice President University Affairs, Nadine Aboud for Vice President External, Abdul Dau for Vice President Campus Life, and Jenny Yue for Vice President Professional Faculties.

The Varsity reached out to Ryu for confirmation on this list; he said that he could not comment due to elections rules that prohibit him from campaigning prior to the official campaign period, however he added that, based on the names of the executives listed, he thought that The Varsity had obtained a recent copy of the candidates document.

None of the apparent executive candidates listed have previously been on the UTSU executive or board of directors. UTSU elections have recently featured two slates — one backed by college student societies and another backed by Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)-connected individuals. There is no evidence to suggest that Reboot UofT matches either of these descriptions.

A document called “Reboot UofT — Tentative Platform” refers to the slate as “a group of establishment outsiders” that is “uniquely equipped to tackle the issues that insiders have turned a blind eye to.” Ryu stated that the term “establishment” has since been edited out of the document. It contains eight platform points.

The first point calls for full-time staff of the UTSU to be “cut” and for their roles to be replaced by part-time student jobs. “The collective agreement negotiated by the UTSU with its staff in 2015 will be up for renewal in the next school year, and we will take this opportunity to cut down on excess staff,” a portion of the document reads.

In a phone conversation with The Varsity Tuesday, Ryu clarified that some of the full-time UTSU staff positions, such as the Health and Dental Coordinator, would remain in place.

The second point calls for the removal of the UTSU executive positions, to be replaced by committees.

Points three through five call for increased transparency regarding clubs funding, and the provision of “accurate representation” of the UTSU membership’s wants and needs. Part of point four declares: “We will also require the UTSU to support political stances supported by a majority of students.”

Point six proposes lobbying Governing Council to abolish breadth requirements. Points seven and eight call for splitting the UTSU into the UTSU and the SGSU, and finding “a way to deal with the Student Commons catastrophe within the year,” respectively.

Ryu stated that a more current version of the platform includes a ninth platform point that pertains to fee diversion for professional students.

This story is developing. More to follow.

With files from Mubashir Baweja and Jaren Kerr.