The students who are attempting to obtain the nearly 10,000 signatures required to launch a referendum on the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) say they are confident that they will reach their goal.
The You Decide UofT campaign was launched in early September in an attempt to secure the signatures — which are equal to 20 per cent of the CFS Local 98 membership — to prompt the referendum as required by the CFS bylaws.
Though the 10,000 signatures target is lofty, You Decide UofT believes it is feasible with help from divisional student societies.
The UTSU has been a local member association of the CFS since 2003 under CFS Local 98, which only includes full-time undergraduates at UTSG.
In an email to The Varsity, You Decide UofT representative Daman Singh recognizes the challenge that collecting a high number of signatures will pose. “Our team is extremely committed and enthusiastic about this campaign and we feel that this commitment will translate into success,” he said.
You Decide UofT plans on collecting signatures by collaborating with college and faculty student unions, course unions, and clubs “to host ‘petition stations’ in their common spaces and offices.”
“We also have various volunteers circulating petitions around campus attempting to speak to the students who may otherwise fall through the cracks,” he added.
Singh noted that campus “response thus far has been fairly positive.” He stated that both the University of Toronto Engineering Society (EngSoc) and the St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) have formally endorsed the campaign, and the campaign has been “overwhelmed with how excited students have been to help out.”
Since The Varsity spoke with Singh, the University College Literary and Athletic Society (UC Lit) — on which Singh serves as Vice-President — also endorsed You Decide.
The campaign organizers have varying levels of involvement in large-scale mobilization campaigns. “While some of our members come from past successful campaigns, such as Hello UofT and Brighter UofT, other members are entirely new faces to the realm of campus politics,” Singh explained.
When asked about any challenges the You Decide campaign has faced thus far, Singh cited the logistical difficulties of launching such a large-scale campaign and keeping track of the volume of signatures rather than any sort of on campus opposition: “When you have so many people in so many places collecting signatures, it can be very difficult to maintain a good idea of where you’re at.”
The CFS has also indicated that it will have a presence on campus this semester; the federation was present during some of the Orientation Week festivities and told The Varsity that it intends on continuing its activism.