For the first time in many years, student leaders from across U of T worked together to bring students out to Homecoming. However, like many other events this year, ongoing conflicts between the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), the Trinity College Meeting (TCM), and the Engineering Society (EngSoc) soured a seemingly unrelated event.
“It will be nice to see everyone together pumped about the game of football” said Onik Khan UTSU vice-president, campus life, who spearheaded the organizing of Homecoming festivities. The plans leading up to Homecoming were ambitious in scale, with students from all three campuses coming to Varsity Stadium to cheer the Blues football team against Guelph in their first home game this year. Student societies from across U of T joined together to fund, and encourage their students to attend, a pre-game rally in the University College quad, as well as attending the game itself on Saturday.
The level of collaboration was unprecedented for recent years, as well as the advertising drive, which papered campus for weeks in the run up to the event.
However, student leaders from Trinity College and the EngSoc have raised concerns about the planning process spearheaded by the UTSU and ultimately elected not to partner with the union for game related festivities.
Benjamin Crase, co-head of Trinity College is concerned not only with the planning process, but with more long term issues: “it’s hard to collaborate when we are blatantly ignored” he said. Crase is referring to the referendum held by Trinity College last spring where a majority of students voted to sever financial ties from the UTSU. The UTSU does not recognize the legitimacy of that referendum.
Mauricio Curbelo, president of EngSoc, which held a similar referenda, had broad concerns about the planning process: “I don’t see what they want us to “collaborate” on other than the cost. The whole idea of the homecoming “committee” is a facade meant to make the UTSU appear “collaborative” when they’ve actually decided everything beforehand” he said via email. He added that it was ridiculous for a student union with a budget of $1.3 million to ask smaller student societies for $2400 to assist with costs.
Grace Slobodian, vice-president campus life at the University of Toronto Mississagua Students’ Union (UTMSU), has a very different description of the planning process. “I believe that [the] UTSU has a done a phenomenal job organizing the event” she said, adding that she felt involved in every part of the planning process and that it was noteworthy that the UTSU “brought students from all three campus, from different colleges and faculty [sic] together to celebrate”
Munib Sajjad, president of the UTSU, echoed the sentiment saying: “As the first home game of the Varsity Blues football team of the year, we felt this would be a great opportunity to showcase the very energy we instill during Orientation week.”
The union plans this year to be the first of many in which student societies collaborate on Homecoming planning.