The St. George Round Table (SGRT), a gathering of the college and faculty student society leaders at UTSG that exclusively represent first-entry undergraduate students, is moving to create a new student union called the St. George Students’ Alliance (SGSA).
Open meetings were held last Monday and Wednesday to discuss bylaws proposed by the SGRT. The role of the SGSA would be to provide a platform of democratic representation for first-entry students, all of whom would be default members.
New College Student Council President Nicholas Grant is the chair of the SGRT subcommittee that is tasked with forming and formalizing the proposed SGSA.
Grant told The Varsity, “The central purpose of the SGSA is to formalize the relationship that currently exists within the SGRT. The SGSA would allow for a democratic mandate that is stronger than that of the SGRT, since students will be directly electing their representatives to the SGSA.”
Grant claims that SGRT is more effective at student engagement because college and faculty events already tend to have better attendance than events of other campus-wide groups. The intent is to tap into college or faculty engagement to bring students across UTSG together, Grant explained.
The SGRT first pushed for the foundation of a student association exclusive to UTSG in 2014 following the Report of the Student Societies Summit. The summit took place after three divisional societies held referenda on defederation from the University of Toronto Students’ Union, citing concern about the democracy of the latter.
Recommendations of the report included the creation of an independent elections and appeals board and the establishment of a discrete Chief Returning Officer position for fee-drawing societies.
Grant said, “The SGRT holds the belief that the concerns raised during the Student Societies Summit still hold true, and form the primary motivation for the formation of the SGSA.”
Currently, SGRT events are funded by contributions from the student societies that comprise its membership. Grant told The Varsity that the SGSA will seek to impose a levy of no more than $1.00 per student in order to replace the current system of funding.
Moving forward, there are plans in place for campus-wide elections of Commissioner positions on the Steering Committee of the SGSA. In addition, divisional student societies have the ability to appoint or elect their own members internally.