UAB not to consider referenda at May meeting

The Trinity and EngSoc fee diversion referenda are no longer on the agenda for the University Affairs Board’s (UAB) meeting on May 28, effectively ensuring that fee diversion will not occur this year. UAB, a committee of Governing Council, has the power to approve the referendum results and make fee changes. If UAB does not approve fee changes at its May meeting, fee diversion will not be effective for next academic year. UAB will meet again in the fall.

In an email to The Varsity, David Walders, acting assistant secretary in the Office of Governing Council, confirmed reports that the referenda are not on the agenda. This marks a change from earlier reports that suggested the referenda would be up for discussion at UAB’s May meeting. Vice-chair of UAB Chirag Variawa confirmed that the agenda had been drafted at a committee meeting last night, but would not confirm whether or not the referenda will be discussed. Several sources inside the administration have stated that it is not possible to add to the agenda at this point.

Meanwhile, the UTSU today received a letter from provost Cheryl Misak, stating that UAB would not consider the referenda at their upcoming meeting. This comes after the union responded to vice-provost, students Jill Matus’ letter of April 5, in which Matus requested the union’s position on the referenda. UTSU president Munib Sajjad had previously declined to comment on the content of that response, but he has now stated that the UTSU committed in the letter to implementing online voting for their fall by-election. Union staff are currently investigating online voting options.

Sajjad said that he was “not surprised” by the administration’s decision, given that administrators had indicated to him, during ongoing dialogue throughout the year, that they wanted to see students resolve the issues surrounding the union without the university becoming involved. Sajjad added that the administration is planning to meet with divisional student leaders and with the union to discuss these issues and that some administrators, including U of T president David Naylor, have suggested mediation as a way to resolve the differences between various student representatives and bodies.

Trinity College’s Board of Trustees, a committee of alumni, students, and college administrators, met last night and discussed the absence of defederation from the UAB agenda.. The Board empowered Trinity’s provost, Andy Orchard, to inform Matus that Trinity still wants to see fee diversion implemented. The Board also struck a committee, chaired by Toronto lawyer and Trinity alumnus Michael Royce, to investigate legal options.

Trinity’s incoming head of college Maha Naqi reacted to the administration’s decision saying that “the results of the referenda speak for themselves” and “that [they are] not being addressed is very disappointing.” She added that online voting was “promising” but “long overdue,” and that Trinity students would need more information about any mediation process before agreeing to mediation.

Leaders of the Engineering Society were unavailable for comment.

More details to follow. 

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