Changes have been made to the way the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) hears grievances. Among the changes to the bylaws included at the UTSU Annual General Meeting on October 27 was the introduction of an appellate board to hear student complaints regarding any UTSU election. This board will operate beyond the Grievance Officer, the Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC), and the Executive Review Committee (XRC).
According to Bylaw 17, the Appellate Board would be composed of four Class A members and three Class B members. Class A members are students enroled at the Faculty of Law; Class B members are students enroled in first-entry programs who have completed at least two years of study.
The bylaw states that all members of the Appellate Board must “not have previously sought or held elected office in the UTSU.” Members of the Appellate Board are also not permitted to hold any sort of office in the UTSU or a divisional student society during their time on the Appellate Board, except for Class A members, who are allowed to hold office in the Students’ Law Society.
Any person appealing a decision made by the Grievance Officer, the Elections and Referenda Committee, or the Executive Review Committee has the right to do so through the Appellate Board. In each instance, the Motion to Appeal must “persuade the Appellate Board that the decision [of the Grievance Officer, the ERC, or the XRC] should be reviewed” and that any such body “misapplied the relevant Bylaws and/or Policies, or otherwise breached the principles of fundamental justice.”
Individuals with the right to appeal a decision may do so within a strict time limit of the Board of Directors ratifying a decision by the committee in question. In the case of appeals of the Greivance Officer or the XRC, that time limit is three days; in the case of appeals of the ERC, it is 24 hours. Individuals with the right to appeal include those “who submitted the original complaint to the Grievance Officer, ERC, or XRC” and any person on whom the decision imposed a penalty.
From that point, the Appellate Board will decide whether or not to hear the appeal. If the board declines to do so, the original decision will remain standing. If it votes to hear the appeal, the appellant and the committee will be informed and must submit written arguments and documentary evidence two days prior to the hearing in the case of appeals of the Grievance Officer and XRC, and 12 hours prior in the case of appeals to the ERC.
A key point is that all deliberations of the Appellate Board would be ‘in camera’, meaning in private. After such deliberations, the Appellate Board would issue a decision within six hours of the hearing’s conclusion for appeals to the ERC, and no more than twelve hours in the instance of an appeal to the Grievance Officer and the XRC.