Mental health, accessibility, rape culture set to be addressed in new campaigns

The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on November 13. The meeting opened with a short video welcoming students to the AGM and summarizing several UTMSU activities. 

In an email that was widely circulated prior to the AGM, Luke Sawczak, editor-in-chief of The Medium, UTM’s student newspaper, expressed concern over a UTMSU directive that forbade media from bringing audio and video recording equipment into Council Chambers for the duration of the AGM.




Last year, The Medium’s news editor, Larissa Ho, had her bag searched before she was allowed into the meeting.

IMPROVING AND CONSOLIDATING SERVICES

In his address, Hassan Havili, president of the UTMSU, spoke on several campaigns that the UTMSU initiated in the past year, including #GenerationVote, a campaign to encourage student participation in municipal elections. 

Havili also spoke to the need to encourage more students to use the services available in the UTM Student Centre. 

The Student Centre played host to several events during the past year, including a Haunted Carnival on Halloween and a block party to celebrate the final stages of the FIFA World Cup 2014. 

The Student Centre also houses several student societies. 

Genny Lawen, UTMSU vice-president, university affairs & academics, spoke on the success of two farmers’ markets held this past fall. Lawen saw this as evidence that students wanted healthy and affordable food, and said that the UTMSU is considering holding more farmers’ markets in the future. 

EQUITY CAMPAIGNS

The UTMSU is set to organize a peer-to-peer support group as part of its mental health awareness campaign. 

Melissa Theodore, UTMSU vice-president, equity, said that students have identified a need for a peer-to-peer support group. Theodore said it is necessary to have people with relevant experience facilitating the support group. UTMSU coordinators will identify students from the LGBTQ community and the disabled students community as facilitators for the support group.

Tasneem Abdel Haleem, UTMSU accessibility coordinator, is responsible for identifying potential facilitators from the disabled students community. The facilitators will be trained by the Health & Counselling Centre, UTM’s health service provider. 

Haleem stressed that the role of the support group was to provide support for people going through a difficult time — not to provide professional counselling. 

The support group is expected to launch in January 2015. 

Theodore also spoke of the No Means No campaign during the AGM. The campaign is aimed at denouncing and diminishing rape culture on campus. 

When asked about the equity demands of the campaign, Theodore said that they included a victims’ advocate, mandatory sexual assault training, and the introduction of a campus task force for sexual assault.

When questioned by a student about the progress on the 1.0 Drop Credit campaign, Lawen admitted that not much progress had been made since last year.

The 1.0 Drop Credit campaign would allow students to remove a course from their transcript.

According to Lawen, U of T is one of the few North American universities without this policy, and the UTMSU is currently in the process of collecting signatures for a petition to open discussions with the dean’s office.

For the financial 2013–2014 year, UTMSU reported a surplus of $219,828.

The student pub, the Blind Duck, also reported a surplus of $37,349. This is the second year for which the Blind Duck has achieved a surplus.

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