Downtown Legal Services petition, Executive Report also heard

Friday’s University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Board of Directors(BoD) meeting was forced to adjourn earlier than expected due to a failure to meet quorum.

Halfway through the meeting, it was noted that the meeting had fallen two directors short of the 20 directors needed for quorum.

Part of the meeting, which was held at the Mississauga campus, was slated to address unread motions from the UTSU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) last month.

The motions did not have to be reserved to the Board, but the UTSU elected to do so to ensure that they would still be discussed. However, due to the early adjournment of the current BoD meeting, the motions will now have to be brought to the next meeting.

One of the motions was intended to support international students.

Cameron Wathey, UTSU internal and services vice-president, internal and services, moved the motion. He says that he is continuing to work on the campaign to support international students rights in spite of the inability to pass the motion. “Hopefully, we’ll have it up by the winter [term],” Wathey says.

Wathey had recently brought up the issue at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Principal’s Town Hall to Deep Saini, UTM principal.

Other items on the agenda that had been passed while there was quorum included the appointment of Nasar Ghafoori as the director representing the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), and the approval of the Executive Report.

The Executive Report is a report from the UTSU Executive committee that details new initiatives, campaigns, and events that the UTSU is organizing, including the rebranding as the Winter Week of Welcome to Frost Week and an upcoming E-Sports tournament.

UTSU president Yolen Bollo-Kamara also spoke about reopening the consultation process for the restructuring of the Board of Directors. She encouraged members to submit new proposals to Wathey.

The UTSU still has a year to be compliant with the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.

Bollo-Kamara also expressed disappointment with the Report of the Provostial Advisory Comittee on Student Mental Health, due to the lack of student involvement in the consultation process.

According to Appendix B of the Report, Kaleem Hawa, chair of the Trinity College meeting, and PhD candidate Roula Markoulakis were involved in the process.

Grayce Slobodian, UTSU external vice-president also announced the re-launch of the Drop Fees campaign. She explained at the meeting that the Drop Fees campaign was a more recognizable brand than the Stop the Hikes campaign.

Downtown Legal Services (DLS), a legal clinic run by the Faculty of Law that serves community members and U of T students with free legal services, was also present at the BoD meeting to present a petition for more UTSU funding.
Currently, DLS receives $1.50 per term from each UTSU member from St. George campus, and $0.50 per term from each University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) member. These rates have been frozen since 2003.

The petition is for a referendum to increase the contribution rate to twice the current levels.

DLS hopes to have the 5,000 required signatures by January 2015 so that they may hold the referendum before the end of the winter term.

Benjamin Ries, staff lawyer at DLS, explained that DLS was currently running at a deficit, and that the increased funding “will put it on stable footing.”

Ries says that current fundraising efforts are focused on the UTSU petition, but DLS intends to petition other student organizations next year.

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