In the first public agreement after months of negotiations, members of the Students’ Administrative Council and the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union held the first of a series of forums informing Scarborough students about the impending decision of whether SAC will hand over the job of representing them to SCSU.
Last Thursday in UTSC’s Meeting Place, SCSU President Dan Bandurka, SAC President Ashley Morton, SAC VP University Affairs Howard Tam, and other members met for half an hour in which they shook hands and signed an agreement detailing a partnership between the two organizations.
SAC indicated that it was in agreement with a direction of change that will, if students agree with it, see SAC pull out of virtually every area of representation and services for students at UTSC. Several more forums will take place until a referendum is held in late November.
The only capacity in which SAC might remain involved is in providing health and dental coverage. “It would be more effective to let SAC take care of the plans for all of U of T in bulk, rather than us sending it out separately. It would make more sense logistically,” said SAC staff member and UTSC student Scott Tremblay.
The event gave the first bit of official sheen to a process that has been going on for months with little public fanfare.
Scarborough’s inadequate representation at U of T has long been a problem plaguing UTSC’s student government. Last spring, SCSU held a “One UTSC” plebiscite in which students were polled on whether they were in favour of being represented by a single body instead of two different groups, SCSU and SAC.
Sixty-five per cent of students voted yes, but the voter turnout was low-only 7 per cent. Practically no representation was given leading up to the plebiscite to arguments for the opposing side. Furthermore, many members of SAC were personally offended by what they saw as an aggressive action by SCSU. Bandurka felt that it accomplished their goals, however.
“The reason that sort of a drastic action was necessary is because UTSC students were being pushed aside by SAC,” he said. Under the current system, “we have to convince a SAC board made up of a majority of St. George students that an issue we have is important.”
Over the past summer, Bandurka was able to convince many SAC executives that one organization could represent UTSC students better than two. Members of both groups formed the Scarborough Student Representatives’ Working Group in order to discuss change and hold public forums on the issue. “We never would have implemented that partnership without the exposure of the plebiscite,” said Bandurka.
“This should affect everyone at U of T at some point. We’re suggesting that there be a campus-based model of representation which moves away from representing students by category [i.e. part-time, full-time, etc.]. This is the first step in assessing how students in a tri-campus university are most effectively represented.”
But concerns about whether getting rid of SAC is really the answer to Scarborough’s problems of representation aren’t very prevalent. If students vote yes in November, which representatives of both groups are confident about, the changes will be implemented in May’s SCSU general meeting. They will coincide with massive transformations already taking place around SCSU, including sweeping bylaw reforms and the creation of the new Student Centre building.