Student groups issue statements about Jordan Peterson’s lectures

Groups from all three campuses condemn statements made by psychology prof

Student groups issue statements about Jordan Peterson’s lectures

Student unions and groups across all three campuses issued statements responding to tenured professor Jordan Peterson’s YouTube lecture series called Professor against political correctness, which included negative comments about the use of gender neutral pronouns.

These include written statements from the Scarborough Campus Students Union (SCSU), the Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU), the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), as well as an open letter signed by University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS), and the Black Liberation Collective (BLC) among others.

The SCSU statement contains a condemnation of what they call “the transphobic, homophobic, and anti-black comments made by Jordan Peterson” and praised the work of groups such as the BLC and trans and non-binary students who are “actively organizing against the lectures posted online.”

“Discrimination like this is hurtful, unprofessional, and needlessly provocative. Non-binary individuals shouldn’t feel devalued by the very people they rely on to provide them with education,” reads part of a statement in the SCSU letter by SC:OUT External and Health Executive Alex Legault.

Peterson has repeatedly stated in public that he does not believe the contents of any of his videos constitute hateful remarks. He maintains that the purpose of his videos is to defend free speech — a principle that he considers in danger.

ASSU’s statement refers to Peterson as an “alleged UofT professor,” despite Peterson’s status as a tenured professor, and reiterates ASSU’s support of students “in retaliation against Peterson’s blatant display of disrespect to UofT’s students and community.”

The open letter from UTMSU, APUS, BLC, and others demands a public apology from Peterson, a removal of his lectures from YouTube, “a town hall with President Meric Gertler, Provost Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President Angela Hildyard, and Professor Jordan Peterson, where community members can explain the issues he clearly does not comprehend,” mandatory anti-oppression training at all levels of U of T, and a commitment from the University that it will “take action to defend students and University community members in future instances where tenured professors have made prejudiced comments against an individual or group on the basis of race, sexual orientation, ability, sex, religion, gender expression, or gender identity.”

“Hateful comments should never be tolerated, especially not from someone who is considered to be an educator. No student should have to endure a two-hour lecture where their gender identity, existence, and realities are being debated and refused. Ultimately, Peterson’s comments erode the safe campus learning environment to which the University states a commitment,” reads part of the concluding statement of the letter.

Peterson uploaded a response to the UTMSU letter on YouTube, in which he characterizes the letter as a “[call] for my discipline and silencing.” He denies saying that he does not believe in the existence of non-binary gender identities and encourages his supporters to write emails to the student leaders involved in the letter.

“You better pay attention to that because what that essentially means is that speech is now an act of violence and more importantly, refusal to use the words that someone else demands that you use is an act of violence,” he says. “That’s what I’m being accused of.”

The UTSU statement includes similar condemnations and says that “anti-trans discrimination is responsible for the routine assault and murder of trans people — especially people of colour — in addition to poverty and homelessness. The UTSU stands with oppressed members of the U of T community, and those who are further marginalized by this Professor’s actions.”

The statement came after an executive report from Cassandra Williams, Vice-President University Affairs, was published. In her report, Williams calls out the rest of the UTSU leadership: “Since [Peterson’s] video was uploaded, almost no member of the UTSU executive or board of directors has voiced any sort of public disagreement with Peterson’s transphobia, or voiced any sentiments at all to indicate that the University of Toronto ought to be a safe environment for trans individuals,” after which she implored the UTSU to engage more actively in solidarity with the transgender community.

Williams, UTSU President Jasmine Wong Denike, and Peterson did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

Anti-abortion group loses litigation against Ryerson Students’ Union

Case precedes similar lawsuit at UTM

Anti-abortion group loses litigation against Ryerson Students’ Union

A legal challenge of the Ryerson Students’ Union launched by an anti-abortion group at the university has failed.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice heard Grant v. Ryerson Student Union on December 18, 2015 and reached a decision on October 3, 2016. Ryerson students Carter Grant and Teresa Mervar from the group Students for Life at Ryerson (SFLR) were the plaintiffs in the case.

SFLR claimed that they suffered from discriminatory treatment based on their ideological beliefs and that the RSU’s denial of club status went against their freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter for Rights and Freedoms.

The RSU argued that SFLR’s anti-abortion activism stood in contrast with RSU’s Policy on Women’s Issues, which stipulates: “The Ryerson Students’ Union opposes… groups, meetings, or events that promote misogynist views towards women and ideologies that promote gender inequality, challenges women’s right to bodily autonomy, or justifies sexual assault.”

Justice Elizabeth M. Stewart dismissed the case and ruled that as a private non-profit corporation, the RSU has the ability to approve or deny clubs for funding based on whether their mandates and ideologies comply with RSU’s policies, considerations of the Ontario Human Rights Code, and Ryerson’s policies.

A portion of Stewart’s decision statement reads: “The Applicants are free to continue to associate and express themselves on the Ryerson campus. They are free to hold SFLR meetings, host events and raise funds for their cause. They are also free to seek office on the RSU executive and to attempt to implement policies that they prefer.”

RSU President Obaid Ullah and SLFR did not respond to The Varsity’s requests for comment.

The case’s outcome will resonate at UTM, where a similar case is underway. University of Toronto Mississauga Students for Life (UTMSFL) is currently suing the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), alleging that the union violated their own policies by not recognizing UTMSFL because of their stance on abortion.

The group accuses the UTMSU of silencing them by denying their requests for funding based on differing opinions, and tampering with their election of a fourth representative by allowing five non-members to vote, which resulted in a vote against the candidate.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, a non-profit legal organization, is representing UTMSFL in the upcoming hearing, for which the date has not yet been set. UTMSFL previously told The Medium that the case has been pending the decision of the Grant v. RSU case to set a hearing date.

UTMSU President Nour Alideeb and UTMSFL declined The Varsity’s requests for comment.

OISE scholarship praised by Scientology-affiliated group

Scholarship namesake bears no connection to Scientology, advocates Anti-Psychiatry approach

OISE scholarship praised by Scientology-affiliated group

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) is offering a scholarship in antipsychiatry, a controversial discipline notably pushed by the Church of Scientology that denies the existence of mental illnesses and sees psychiatry as dangerous and ineffective.

The scholarship, known as the Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Anti-Psychiatry, will be offered through the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) for a thesis student studying antipsychiatry.

The scholarship’s namesake is matching each donation up to $50,000. Burstow, an Associate Professor at OISE in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education has been studying antipsychiatry for four decades.

“It has been proven conclusively that there are no biological indicators for what’s called mental illness,” Burstow claimed, in an interview with The Varsity. Burstow blames what she characterizes as capitalist intentions behind the pharmaceutical psychiatric approach and stated, “We are looking at massive human rights violations. People who have in fact committed no crime are being hauled off to psychiatric institutions and forced onto brain-damaging drugs.”

The Canadian branch of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit anti-psychiatry organization founded by the Church of Scientology in 1969, praised the scholarship on its Facebook page, calling it “very, very good news” and Burstow “a rock star.”

When asked about its endorsement of the scholarship, the CCHR echoed many of Burstow’s sentiments on a supposed lack of medical validity for psychiatry.

Burstow emphasized that she has no affiliation with the CCHR: “I’m an activist and there are no Scientology organizations that I belong to.” Dr. Burstow advocates for a future in the psychiatric industry that provides “non-medical, non-coercive help for people who want it.”

When asked to comment on the scholarship, U of T Media Relations Director Althea Blackboard-Evans told The Varsity, “The whole reason for being a university is to create a forum where issues can be openly discussed and debated. Sometimes that debate can be uncomfortable and challenging. People will absolutely disagree with one another and sometimes people will disagree with the validity of that area of study as well; ultimately, it is not up to the university to cut down on one side or the other, but to support that academic freedom.”

Dr. Benoit H. Mulsant, who is the Department Chair for the Department of Psychiatry, made similar remarks: “Universities are places where free inquiry is supported. The Department of Psychiatry will continue to prepare the next generation of psychiatrists. Doing so, we strive to uphold the highest standards of the profession, consistent with the latest research that ensures the well-being of individuals with mental disorders.”

Dr. Charles Pascal, a Professor of Applied Pyschology and Human Development added, “When people are upset about these kind of things, it’s usually because they’re insecure about what they’re doing. And the best instrument for them to pick up is a mirror.”

He continued, “This discourse is what the University of Toronto is all about. It gets us to live in the grey area and avoid the black and white.”

Editor’s note: The sub-headline of this article has been altered in order to clarify Dr. Burstow’s position.

UTSU referendum for student clubs fee fails

Over 74 per cent of ballots cast voted ‘no’ to new fee

UTSU referendum for student clubs fee fails

The University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) proposal for a new levy to fund student clubs has failed, with 74.5 per cent of referendum voters casting their ballots against the fee.

The referendum was held from October 18–20. Of the 2,026 students that voted, 23.1 per cent voted in favour of the proposed levy and 2.4 per cent abstained.

The proposed levy would have been $3.75 per session for the next five years. The funds collected would have been restricted towards clubs, events, and student service funding only, with no amount going towards salaries.

By-elections for vacant director positions also occurred in conjunction with the referendum. Amal Ismail-Ladak ran unopposed and was elected as the Innis College Director, while Osman Osman won against Justine Huyer to become the Transitional Year Programme Director. No candidates ran for OISE Director and Mathematical & Physical Sciences Director.

In an email to The Varsity, Mathias Memmel Vice-President Internal & Services of the UTSU addressed the results of the levy referendum. “I’m obviously disappointed,” he said, “but I understand why students aren’t yet ready to trust the UTSU with money — there’s been gross mismanagement for years.”

Some students launched a Facebook page and put up posters encouraging UTSU members to vote against the levy increase. The Chief Returning Officer ruled that this campaign was against the rules; the UTSU Charter for Referenda require such campaigns register with the Chair of the Elections & Referenda Committee and the CRO as an official advocating committee.

When asked how he would respond to students who did not trust the union, Memmel responded, “We’re going to keep reforming the organization, and that will include taking action to ensure that we’re spending students’ money properly.”

Despite the clubs fee’s failure to pass, Memmel was optimistic about UTSU’s ability to regain students’ trust. “The silver lining is that I and the UTSU can learn a lot from what happened here.”

“I also want to express my sincere gratitude to the clubs — they’ve been great, and I share their disappointment,” Memmel said.

In a previous interview with The Varsity, Memmel stated that funding for clubs in the union’s budget for 2016–2017 increased by $15,000, but most of the new funds would go towards supporting newer clubs. The proposed levy that failed in the referendum was intended to support all clubs, while also funding a potential increase in the funding cap for level three clubs from $15,000 to $20,000.

The referendum is also noteworthy for being the first UTSU referendum to be held entirely electronically. The Varsity spoke with Ryan Gomes, UTSU’s Elections and Referenda Committee Chair about the move to entirely online voting. “I do feel that this transition was a success,” Gomes said.

When asked about the polling stations at Kelly Library and the Athletic Centre, which were respectively cancelled and given reduced hours, Gomes replied that UTSU faced difficulties in finding students to operate these stations.

He went on to say, “Student workers, as well as associates, were utilized to keep these polling stations running for as long as possible,” while other stations were open for the duration of the referendum.

On the referendum results, Gomes said, “I think the students have spoken clearly, and the UTSU must respect their members when they vote against new proposed fees.”

Gomes highlighted the high voter turnout as a positive sign, regardless of the outcome of the referendum, as “the referendum received a lot of student engagement, which is always good.”

“I hope that those who wish to run future fee campaigns keep this year’s vote in mind moving forward,” said Gomes.


Trinity College students approve funding for accessibility lift to JCR

Clubs meet elsewhere for the semester

Trinity College students approve funding for accessibility lift to JCR

Following years of inaccessibility issues, Trinity College’s Junior Common Room (JCR) is receiving a jointly-funded student and administration XPRESS II Stair Lift. The Trinity College Meeting (TCM), Trinity’s direct democracy governance body, passed the proposal at its second meeting on October 17.

The Trinity College Literary Institute, or the Lit, is a levied club that holds weekly satirical debates in the JCR. The issue of accessibility was brought up to the Prime Minister of the Lit, Rhiannon Langford, during Trinity’s Clubs Fair. A student in a mobility device asked about getting involved when Langford realized they could not access the JCR.

That day, Langford emailed her concerns about accessibility and some possible solutions to Dean of Students Kristen Moore. Moore has held the position for just over a year now. She agreed to meet with Langford and Pierre Kochel, the Speaker of the Lit, a couple days before the first debate was scheduled.

“We go there and the entire dean’s office staff is there and they’ve totally ambushed us,” Langford said. “They’re like, ‘You have to leave the JCR or else there is going to be an [Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)] lawsuit against the Lit.’ And I’m like, ‘Wait, we’re a student group, how is there going to be a lawsuit?’ It was just in a super threatening way of asking us to move so it was not the best way of this happening, obviously.”

Administration asked the Lit to move to the Divinity Common Room (DCR) for the time being after speaking with the heads of divinity. Moore said they were happy to support the Lit’s activity, due to its importance in undergraduate life at the college.

“What we’ve made an arrangement with them is for them to be able to continue to hold their events as they would in the JCR,” Moore said. “The only modification that we’ve asked them to make is to space, it’s not to any of the content or activity.”

Langford asked Moore for more time to relocate the debates, which would have meant keeping the first debate in the JCR.

“She was like, ‘Absolutely not. This is a human rights issue,’ and all these things,” Langford said. “Which is fair, the reason I asked about the ramp is because I care about accessibility, but framing it like I’m going to get sued because I tried to get the ramp installed in the first place just seemed a bit ridiculous to me. I leave that thinking, ‘Okay, how is this going to get done?’”

Langford also said, “It’s not the end of the world that we are being kicked out of the room, it’s just the way that it is done and Trin is so special because we do have these student-led movements and students have led so much change and not giving students the dignity and respect to make those changes from our governance perspectives is kind of annoying.”

The day after the Lit was asked to move to the DCR, Rainbow Trin, the college’s LGBTQ club, was allowed to hold its semi-formal in the JCR. This prompted concerns from the Lit leaders that accessibility is not administration’s true concern.

“In my mind, I feel like it’s about liability and they’re just worried about that AODA lawsuit because if they truly cared about making accessible space, they would be doing some action on it already,” Langford said. “They’d be encouraging other student groups to not use it in the meantime.”

Regarding liability threats, Moore said, “I don’t think there have been any threats to [the college], but I think that sometimes in conversations to people we try to discuss the whole spectrum of the range of things.”

Moore also said that the Lit’s concern initiated conversation about accessibility. The JCR and administration has since asked the student heads to advise club presidents to look for accessible spaces for their events.

“It wasn’t necessarily that we were kind of seeking out the Lit… the reason why we talked about them specifically moving their space is because they came to us and highlighted the concern with not being accessible and that would mean being exclusive to someone who had indicated they wanted to participate,” Moore said.

Both Moore and Langford stressed the importance of the JCR to undergraduate life and expressed surprise that the room’s lack of accessibility has not been questioned before.

The Lit’s constitution mandates that meetings “shall be held in the Junior Common Room except with the concurrence of the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.”

“It’s one of the only spaces because it’s a private space within a public building… It’s kind of just students casually get together once a week and relax and laugh at each other,” Langford said. “For all those reasons, plus, we’re just really attached to this room. It’s student run. The admin has nothing to do with this room. We love the JCR.”

In order to fund the stair lift, administration pushed for student assistance from the Student Capital Campaigns Committee (SCCC), which usually convenes at the end of each semester.

The SCCC’s strategic plan says its mandate is to “Initiate and financially support key capital initiatives for the betterment of the student experience at Trinity College” and “Support proposals and continue to explore initiatives that highlight the long term goals for the improvement of the student experience.”

In order to pass the lift proposal before the semester ends, TCM Chair Jaclyn Flom agreed to alter the schedule and call an SCCC meeting as soon as a proposal was ready.

“[Having meetings at the end of each semester] runs into issues with timing of the year, and it makes it very difficult for our building services team to be able to implement them over the summer, because they are looking at the project timeline for summer and the coming year — already by the fall and the winter, they are already planning.So, to sort of jam different things in that they weren’t anticipating makes it very difficult for things to happen in a timely fashion,” Moore said.

According to the second TCM’s minutes, the SCCC will fund $24,999 of the project, and the college will provide $25,000.

“At the end of the day, it is a project [that] we recognize is particularly important regardless of the amount of student contribution, so I think it’s one of those things [we’re] interested to see because honestly, it makes a really nice story when you have students who step up and say, ‘We’d like to put, however much money, however much it is that we’d like to put forward, because we consider this to be a really important issue for us, and we have changed our structure of how we normally do things because we want to see this happen sooner.’” Moore said.

In her proposal to the SCCC, Langford brought up student usage of the JCR: “Student groups are being denied access to the room due to Trinity’s failure to comply by accessibility laws,” the proposal reads. “In an effort to make student events inclusive to all, it is essential that this room be equipped with an accessible entrance as soon as possible.”

At the TCM, students passed the motion with 43 votes in favour and two abstentions. SCCC proposals for projects under $25,000 need to pass a two-thirds majority, but at only one TCM rather than two.

In her presentation to the TCM, Langford said, “The administration has been super awesome about making this one of their top construction priorities.”

Langford was interviewed before she could meet with Moore about making the official SCCC proposal, and both Langford and Moore were interviewed before the proposal passed.

Since it is a heritage building, Trinity College’s buildings have not been subject to strict laws regarding accessibility, but administration has been working on improvements over the past few years, including most recently, the near completion of an elevator from the basement of the Trinity College building to Seeley Hall.

The Lit will continue meeting in the DCR until the lift’s proposed completion in January.

Security beefed up at St. Mike’s residences

New policy requires residents to hold T-Card in front of video intercom to enter after 11:00 pm

Security beefed up at St. Mike’s residences

St. Michael’s College recently introduced tighter security measures at two of its residence halls, which include video intercom terminals at the main entrances.

The newly-installed system requires residents to verify their identities after visiting hours by first pressing a button on the video intercom terminal to call the Porter and then holding their student card to the camera for verification before they are buzzed in.

In an email to students on October 4, the college announced that the new security tool had been installed for the College’s two largest residences — Elmsley Hall and Sorbara Hall — with plans to introduce them in other buildings once the transition process has been fine-tuned.

The video intercoms have been fitted at four different entryways, including the southeast entrance of Elmsley, the northwest entrance of Sorbara, the southwest entrance of Sorbara, and the barrier-free southeast entrance of Sorbara.

Previously, residents could access the building and their respective floors by simply swiping a key card. This system will continue to function during regular hours; enhanced security will be enforced from Sunday through Thursday after 11:00 pm and Friday through Saturday after 12:30 am.

According to the college, the upgraded security is “intended to help the College better monitor who is entering our dormitories in the late evening and overnight periods,” with particular emphasis on non-residents.

The email sent out to residents also claimed that “non-residents/guests were involved in many of the negative incidents that occurred within our dorms – especially incidents of damage, theft and vandalism.” A recent incident that occurred in Sorbara Hall on September 29 was mentioned.

Elmsley and Sorbara remain amongst the few on-campus residence halls to implement such vigilant security measures. Trinity College, for example, requires residents to use their access keys to unlock the entrance doors to their buildings and floors after-hours. No such after-hours security measures exist for University College residences.

This is not the first time that St. Michael’s College has introduced stricter security for its residence buildings. In early 2015, the college put in place an access control system with security guards stationed at main entrances to filter people coming in. The system was taken down soon after following negative feedback from students and staff.

Duane Rendle, the Dean of Students at St. Michael’s College defended the newly implemented system in a statement to The Varsity, saying: “The new measures are intended to enhance building security and in turn, keep our residents safer.”

“Some students have raised concerns that the new system is not as convenient as the old one and I will concede that ‘security’ and ‘convenience’ are concepts that rarely compliment one another,” he commented.

“That being said, we simply don’t feel it is an unreasonable request to ask students show their ID in order to gain access to our residences,” Rendle continued, “in fact, this same requirement already exists at many other dorms and residential buildings in downtown Toronto.”

Rendle also said that hearing of incidents such as the Laval University residence break-ins made him “confident that we are moving in the right direction and that sacrificing a little convenience for improved security is a worthwhile tradeoff.”

UTSU calls for inquiry into Campus Police

Union criticizes alleged police inaction at rally

UTSU calls for inquiry into Campus Police

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has issued a statement demanding a public inquiry into the University of Toronto Campus Police, in wake of recent events, particularly the “U of T Rally for Free Speech” held at Sidney Smith Hall on October 11.

The rally contained instances of violence and tension between some rally attendees and individuals who came to protest, the latter comprised of many members of the trans and non-binary community.

The UTSU statement focuses on what the union describes as inadequate response from campus police to alleged assaults against members of the trans community.

“An investigation by the administration—to which students have no access—will not be sufficient, an investigation must be public and done by an unbiased party,” reads part of the statement.

UTSU President Jasmine Wong Denike explained to The Varsity that the union is seeking “an investigation into how Campus Police responds to situations in which students — especially marginalized students — need protection. We’re especially concerned by how Campus Police interacted with trans students. Just standing there isn’t helpful and frankly, it is unacceptable. The university has a responsibility to ensure that students are free to express themselves and their identities. They can’t do that when violence is tolerated. There’s an issue of Campus Police taking less of an interest in the safety of marginalized students.”

The UTSU claims that the Campus Police “refused to intervene when they knew of and saw trans folks being assaulted.” On the role of campus police, U of T Media Relations Director Althea Blackburn-Evans stated, “Their role is to keep the peace… If something might get physical in any circumstance, they would be able to step in and address that as appropriate.”

She continued, “The university is now looking very closely at the events that unfolded and is committed to doing its work to investigate that and to look at all the various pieces and what occurred and what we might do about that.”

Toronto Police Services are also investigating online threats issued against transgender and non-binary students, prompting a response from Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr and Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat.

“In the face of violence, hate speech, and threats, trans students are not safe on campus and similarly, in the face of hateful and racist remarks, black students are not safe on campus either,” the UTSU’s statement continues. “It is unacceptable for the Campus Police to fail in their responsibility to keep students safe from violence on campus, and specifically against trans students.”

Blackburn-Evans emphasized that the university wants to “absolutely condemn any acts of violence or threats against our community but also to ensure that anybody who’s feeling unsafe knows the resources that are available on our campuses, the safety resources that are available, so we really want to encourage students… who are feeling unsafe to contact the community safety office, as one of those key resources.”

“The University has a responsibility to act proactively, before this violence occurs, as per their mandate to provide a campus environment that is free from discrimination and harassment,” continued Denike in her statement. “As for the administration, we’d like to see everyone who works at U of T, including tenured professors, receiving training in gender identity and the barriers facing trans and non-binary students and they must consult trans students in doing this. We’ll be lobbying the administration to implement that.”

“Trans people are now protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code, so the university has legal obligations as well as moral ones. It must fulfill these obligations by taking action to ensure the safety of trans students,” she continued

On the subject of discussion on campus and protection of students, Blackburn-Evans stated on behalf of the administration that while everybody has the right to express their views, “they also have a responsibility to follow the law, to follow the Ontario Human Rights code for example, and to follow UofT policies which are in line with the Code.”

UTSU AGMs: a history

Looking back on the past four years in preparation of this week’s meeting

UTSU AGMs: a history

Tension has surrounded the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) Annual General Meetings (AGM) for the past several years. With the 2016 AGM approaching on October 27, The Varsity reflects on previous meetings and their past proceedings.

2012: Total shut down

The 2012 AGM can be said to be the beginning of tumult and controversy.

Turnout was a record high, with over 300 students — nearly 2,000 proxy votes between them— ready to vote on the UTSU’s agenda.

Members waited in line for over two hours to enter the meeting, with delays stemming from restricted access to the union’s member list. Scheduled for 6:00 pm November 22, 2012, the meeting didn’t get underway until 8:19 pm.

Tension and division throughout the UTSU was evident. Opposition to the UTSU was strong, with student head of Trinity College Samuel Greene urging members not to vote to approve the agenda. Additionally, the UTSU voiced concerns over what they felt were personal attacks against the UTSU executive team.

Half an hour after the meeting was called to order, a routine vote on the agenda was held. Members voted against the approval the agenda, forcing an abrupt end to the meeting. The meeting was rescheduled for after the winter break.

2013: The cliff-hanger year

Reconvening on February 5, 2013, the AGM was especially long; four and a half hours were spent combing through the UTSU agenda. Members voted on a variety of concerns, from establishing an anti-war coalition to removing polystyrene foam food containers on campus.

The meeting lost quorum — the minimum number of members needed to continue — after UTM students left to catch a final bus back to their campus. With the meeting again forced to a halt, a controversial and highly anticipated vote on electoral reform and online voting was left unheard. The meeting was set to reconvene a week later.

The electoral reform motion was approved at the next meeting, but the delay in hearing the motion meant that it could not be ratified due to time constraints stemming from an upcoming election. Trinity College, the Engineering Society, and St. Michael’s College subsequently announced plans to secede from the UTSU due to its failure to ratify the changes before the election, a point that had been originally promised by UTSU President Shaun Shepherd.

2014: The road to Board of Directors reform

With a controversial proposal to drastically reform the Board of Directors on the table, a narrow vote at the AGM struck down the motion, which would have replaced college and faculty-specific directors with directors representing various marginalized groups.

The vote ultimately allowed for further discussion by the UTSU, though members had mixed reactions about the process to achieve a formal reform of the board, which was required under federal law.

The final orders of business, which addressed UTSU activism and advocacy work, were left unheard by the meeting.

A vote of 1,400 in favour to adjourn the meeting was heard before the remainder of the items could be addressed. The early adjournment led to feelings of disappointment from those that could not have their projects heard.

2015: The AGM trilogy

After a year of investigating how to reform the Board of Directors in order to comply with federal law, two proposals were presented at the AGM, which were meant to allow restructuring that was both legal and representative of UTSU membership.

Khrystyna Zhuk, the Arts & Sciences Director At-Large at the time presented one such proposal. Zhuk’s motion was voted for by over half of those in attendance, but failed to meet the two-thirds majority vote that was required for full ratification.

The failure to ratify the vote led to another meeting dubbed the ‘AGM Part 2’, where a majority number of members voted in favour of Zhuk’s proposal.

Students from UTM were not in attendance at AGM Part 2, due to scheduling issues that prevented the students from being involved in a Skype session, which would have allowed them to participate in the meeting.

Despite a call from a group of students for the meeting to be moved to allow for accessibility, the meeting continued as scheduled.

In addition to AGMs Part 1 and 2, a Special General Meeting (SGM) was called in January 2016 to discuss member-submitted motions. The agenda included motions on the UTSU’s relationship with the Canadian Federation of Students and ethical divestment. The meeting failed to reach quorum and instead carried on as an informal town hall meeting.

The 2016 AGM is set to take place on October 27 at 6:00 pm in the OISE Auditorium.