LGBTOUT held an information session on Tuesday, October 21 in advance of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Annual General Meeting (AGM). The goal of the event was to discuss how proposed UTSU board reforms could give LGBTQ communities the chance to become better represented within the university.
Due to a shift in federal non-profit laws, the UTSU is passing articles of continuance that demand the submission of new bylaws. The UTSU is now exploring alternative modes of representation on the Board of Directors and is looking to enshrine these in the new bylaws.

Yolen Bollo-Kamara, UTSU president, explained in a presentation at the consultation that if the board structure proposal is approved, college and faculty positions would be replaced with directors in charge of different equity issues, including a director for LGBTQ communities, students with disabilities, racialized students, international students, women, indigenous students, mature students, sustainability, commuter students, and the Transitional Year Program.

Campus groups would appoint some of these positions, and others would be elected. Bollo-Kamara said the argument for multiple representatives for equity issues is that there are too many equity issues at the university for the UTSU vice-president, equity to handle alone.

The proposed board structure is not without its controversies. Multiple student leaders and societies have expressed concerns that colleges and professional faculties could lose direct representation on the Board of Directors.

LGBTOUT took issue with the fact that reform proposal contains identity-based positions, such as “LGBTQ director.” Those present for the presentation discussed other possible names such as “LGBTQ+,” the plus sign representing others in the community who may not identify with LGBTQ such as asexual or pansexual, or “LGBTQQ,” with the additional “Q” representing “questioning.”

LGBTOUT, along with Queer Slam and Queer Writes, published a statement in support of the proposed structure — contingent on changing the titles of the positions to reflect the fact that the directors represent issues, not identities. Under this suggested change, the directors would be renamed “LGBTQ issues director” as opposed to “LGBTQ director.”

“We believe issues directors on LGBTQ, commuter, racialized, gendered, indigenous… issues could positively influence how the UTSU plans programming. This change can build equity into the UTSU’s DNA,” the statement read.

LGBTOUT executwives said that the current college system severely overlooks the issues of equity that matter to accessing education.

LGBTOUT executives also said that the new structure will promote intersectional representation.