The campaign period for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) elections is underway, with four slates and some independent candidates vying for votes. The UTSU has scheduled an executive forum for March 8.
Voting will run from March 14–16 and will be available online at utsu.simplyvoting.com. The votes will be conducted using a ranked balloting system.
The election was originally to be held from March 28–30, but after the University of Mississauga Students’ Union scheduled its election earlier than anticipated, the UTSU board of directors voted to move up the dates.
Members will vote for seven executives and nine directors representing the university’s colleges, 10 directors representing professional faculties, and six directors representing academic programs in the Faculty of Arts and Science. The respective student societies for the Faculty of Music, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, New College, Innis College, and Woodsworth College will be holding internal elections for their respective UTSU directors.
The UTSU is also holding two levy referendums. The University of Toronto Aerospace Team is seeking a levy of $2.77 per semester from Fall 2017 to Winter 2019 in order to fund a microbiology research satellite. In addition, the UTSU is seeking a 50 cent levy from Fall 2017 to Spring 2022 for accessibility resources, such as American Sign Language interpreters, personal support workers for events, and captioning services for events.
Currently, the UTSU employs eight full-time staff who are unionized members of CUPE 1281. The union’s contract with CUPE 1281 expires in January 2018 and the incoming executive will engage in collective bargaining negotiations.
This year, the union is spending $982,300 on staff salaries, over 40 per cent of the union’s total expenses.
In October, the Black Liberation Collective (BLC) staged a protest at the UTSU offices, claiming that the union was complicit in anti-Black racism. The BLC’s demands included increasing clubs funding towards Black student groups, hosting a town-hall on anti-Black racism, and dropping the lawsuit against former Executive Director Sandy Hudson. The union launched a legal dispute against Hudson, alleging that she was improperly issued $247,726.40 in severance payments. Hudson subsequently countersued for $300,000, alleging hostilities from the incoming UTSU executive at that time.
Members of this year’s executive have publicly endorsed defederating from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) this year. In addition, the You Decide campaign, which was launched last September, is seeking signatures for a petition to launch a referendum on defederation.
The Varsity asked 25 candidates for the seven contested executive positions on the UTSU for their positions on these issues, and their other platform points. At least one independent candidate is running for the position of president, according to the Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC) of the UTSU. Although The Varsity attempted to reach out to all of the candidates, individuals not listed here may also be running. A full list of candidates will be made available by the ERC Monday morning.