Earlier this month, an investigation by The Varsity revealed that the Insider Pass sold by the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) offered discounts that were already offered to students for free. This week, a reporter from The Varsity purchased an Insider Pass from the UTSU to investigate the benefits that are being offered. For $20, a student receives a piece of photo identification labelled as the Insider Pass, in addition to a “survival kit.” The pass itself displays the UTSU logo and is labelled as: “Your official Insider Pass into the University of Toronto’s Community Clubs and Campus Events.” However, the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) logo is also clearly displayed on the card, giving the impression that the UTSU pass is an ISIC card with additional UTSU benefits. The ISIC card, which is available to all students for free at the UTSU office, already offers most of the discounts advertised by the Insider Pass, such as a $10 discount at The Body Shop with purchases over $20. When The Varsity visited The Body Shop, employees only acknowledged the ISIC logo but did not comment on the validity of the Insider Pass. However, discounts that the ISIC already offers are advertised on the UTSU website as exclusive to Insider Pass holders, including discounts for The Body Shop, WestJet, and Greyhound.

At present, no definitive list of businesses that offer benefits with the Insider Pass is available. Students can see the discounts available with the Insider Pass on a poster displayed at the UTSU office and on their Orientation website. Both sources advertise the following benefits: discounts for the UTSU Unity Ball and Culture Show, the Body Shop, WestJet, Greyhound, the annual Montreal Reading Week trip, as well as the UTSU water bottle and survival kit — the only discounts exclusive to the pass are ones that pertain to UTSU events. Other than the advertised UTSU events and discounts that are already available to students, the pass’s benefits have yet to be announced.

UTSU president Munib Sajjad stated through email, “The discounts to known UTSU events have been spelled out, but events are also created throughout the year by students, which is why it is not as yet definitive.” Sajjad mentioned that discounts available outside of university events are still being developed “The ISIC discounts are fully listed on the ISIC Canada Website. The discounts that are not available with the ISIC are all discounts that pertain to UTSU-specific events, in addition to discounts that are currently being worked out with local businesses who have offered to be a part of the program, (these will include yoga studios near campus, theatres near campus and other locally-focused discounts).” The names of the businesses have not been specified.

Though the Insider Pass duplicates free discounts, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) does not find this problematic. Hildah Otieno, a spokesperson for the CFS said, “We have partnered with other universities in the past to combine the ISIC card with other services the student unions can offer. At the University of Ottawa we helped them plan an ISIC card that also involved their bus plan.” When asked to comment on the cost of the pass for the limited amount of services, Otieno could only say that while the CFS helped with the idea of the pass, the UTSU is an autonomous organization and that the actual putting together of the pass was outside of the CFS’ realm of control. “We do not believe that it creates a two tiered system,” commented Otieno, emphasizing that the ISIC card is available for free and that purchasing the Insider Pass is entirely optional. Some U of T student leaders have criticized the pass for setting up a “two-tiered” system.

The UTSU’s advertising for the pass is also a potential source of confusion. The UTSU Orientation website refers to the pass as an “Orientation Insider Pass,” and events for which it advertises exclusive access are all during Frosh Week. The pass seems to be targeted specifically towards first-year students. These events include the chance to meet and greet rapper Lupe Fiasco at the Frosh Concert, “a chance to arrive in style by limo” to the Guvernment Afterparty, and a chance to win a free meal at the UTSU Street Festival. However, these benefits have not been available since the end of Frosh Week. Sajjad said that the pass is targeted towards first-year students with the intention to get them involved with UTSU events, “It is our hope that this pass will help first year students save some money, and get plugged in to some campus events and the community at large.”


The Contents


1). Wall calendar
2). UTSU Planner
3). Pen
4). Highlighter
5). Shrimp crackers
6). Coffee cup
7). Emergen-C
8). Gummy bears
9). Scotiabank promotion
10). UTSU waterbottle
11). Princeton review promotion
12). Zipcar promotion
13). Sammy’s promotion
14). Bookmark
15). Clubs directory
16). Tea Emporium promotion
17). Canada’s Wonderland coupon
18). UTSU fabric bag


The Fine Print

— Anyone that creates a Scotiabank debit account gets five free movies. This can be found on their website and at any Scotiabank branch.

— The Sammy’s coupon for a free drink was offered in Frosh Kits and when asked, Sammy’s had no knowledge of it being used in the Insider Pass kits saying only: “we’re trying to get rid of the coupons.”

— The $15 Zipcar discount is for York students. No comparable offers exists for U of T.

— The Princeton Review flyer offering discount codes for their services can also be picked up at the UTSU office.

— The Tea Emporium discount is offered to all students. A TCard is accepted as a valid form of ID. A representative did not know what the Insider Pass was when asked.

— The agenda, clubs directory, water bottle and travel mug are all distributed in frosh kits. UTSU President Munib Sajjad has repeatedly denied that Insider Pass contents include excess frosh kit items.

— The UTSU advertises a number of discounts available with the pass, including a $10 discount at The Body Shop for purchases over $20 and a 25 per cent discount on Greyhound bus tickets within Canada. Both discounts are available with the presentation of a TCard.

— Other discounts found on the Insider Pass website are available to students with ISIC cards, available free of charge to UTSU members

— The ISIC offers students 109 discounts in Toronto alone. At present, the Insider Pass website identifies four specific non-UTSU event related discounts, all also offered by the ISIC. The UTSU has repeatedly declined requests to provide a complete list of discounts offered by the Insider Pass, including the amount of the discount on UTSU events.