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New blood — now what?

The Editorial Board’s take on what the incoming UTSU executives and directors should prioritize for the year ahead

New blood — now what?

Candidates and journalists alike were no doubt relieved when this year’s University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) elections period came to a close. Now that unofficial results have been released, The Varsity’s Editorial Board seeks to draw the new administration’s attention to the concerns that we feel are most salient to students.

Firstly, any organization that collects non-optional fees from students should be intensely concerned with managing that money responsibly. The hope is that the UTSU will continue to work away at these issues by undergoing the internal reform promised by many candidates during the campaigning period.

Given that human resources make up $982,300 of the UTSU’s 2016­–2017 Operating Budget, President-elect Mathias Memmel was particularly outspoken about his desire to cut back on spending in this area. During their campaign, Demand Better — who won all but two executive seats — proposed merging the Vice-President University Affairs and Vice-President External positions, claiming this would save the UTSU $50,000 a year.

With contract negotiations for positions coming up in January 2018, the UTSU should start making plans to cut back.

We are also reminded of the ongoing lawsuit against former UTSU executive director Sandra Hudson, in which the UTSU alleges that $247,726.40 of student fees are at stake, and that Hudson has counter-sued the union citing breach of disparagement and confidentiality clauses within her termination agreement. Legal proceedings are often frustratingly slow, but given the accountability and liability concerns involved, it is crucial that updates to the student body be continually issued on this file.

In the meantime, as the rubble settles around the explosion of campus controversies that occurred earlier this year, students and campus groups have repeatedly requested the UTSU to respond to the equity concerns that have arisen, particularly with respect to the safety of transgender students.

A number of candidates expressed solidarity with marginalized groups on campus throughout the campaign period, but as has been echoed in our pages, verbal commitments are only useful insofar as concrete action follows.

During The Varsity’s UTSU presidential debate, Memmel expressed that education plays a crucial role in equity work. The Editorial Board is interested to see how this might play out in practice, given that the campus remains divided on a number of fronts.

Tuition advocacy also ought to play a significant role in the new administration’s agenda: maintaining the recently-renewed three per cent cap on tuition in Ontario, and pushing for further changes in the name of financial accessibility to education, is in all of our best interests. Incoming Vice-President University Affairs Carina Zhang was the sole elected executive from We the Students, and she might be a strong influence on this front considering the slate’s commitment to affordable education.

One of the more widely discussed advocacy campaigns this year has been with regard to potential decertification from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). Since four members of the outgoing UTSU Executive publicly endorsed the You Decide campaign for a CFS decertification referendum — and the three others promptly condemned the endorsement — You Decide’s relationship with the UTSU has remained unclear.

Incoming Vice-President Internal Daman Singh has been involved with the You Decide campaign, and whether Singh will take the reins and spur the UTSU to action within the scope of his new role remains to be seen. You Decide organizers themselves seem to be keenly conscious of the work that remains to be done before decertification becomes a realistic prospect, as reflected in their recent Facebook post: “We ain’t done yet.”

The UTSU should also consider what might happen if the ‘yes’ vote that decertification proponents been salivating about comes to fruition. The $750,000 of UTSU membership dues that are now being paid to the CFS could be reallocated to other projects, or, perhaps ideally, returned to students’ pockets. It is crucial that the UTSU develop a student consultation strategy should it need to make that decision down the line.

To the tune of democratic representation, there was talk from Demand Better about banning slates for UTSU elections. Incoming Vice-President External Anne Boucher won her seat whilst running as an independent, and the prospect of an election where all candidates are altogether free of UTSU partisanship would be an interesting departure from previous protocol if pursued.

Yet, regardless of the efforts the incoming UTSU makes to reform its practices internally, there are still entire cross-sections of the campus community that it is failing to reach. The voter turnout in these elections is often abysmal; this year it was 11.8 per cent, admittedly up from 9.7 per cent in 2016. Spoiled ballots are just as telling as no-shows — in some categories this year, abstentions made up over a third of the total votes, as the UTSU’s unofficial election results show. 

There is a reason why so many candidates in this year’s election flocked to describe the UTSU as broken: an organization that collects student fees from all students, but whose members are chosen by a meager portion of the student body, can hardly be considered fully democratic.

Voter engagement is something that past administrations have consistently struggled with, and the incoming UTSU would be wise to prioritize this concern and perhaps adopt some new strategies toward addressing it, as it is clear that what has been done before is not working.

To all elected UTSU representatives, the Editorial Board wishes a sincere best of luck and awaits the progress that new blood might bring. When it comes to student politics, we’re always on the edges of our seats.

Police searching for suspect in New College residence break-and-enter, theft

Incident took place February 20, police say

Police searching for suspect in New College residence break-and-enter, theft

Toronto Police are currently searching for a suspect in a break-and-enter investigation at a New College residence near Spadina Avenue and Willcocks Avenue. They are asking the public for assistance.

The break-and-enter occurred on Monday February 20, after an 18-year-old woman left her residence room at 4:00 pm. When the woman returned, her credit card appeared to be missing.

The following day, the credit card was used multiple times at stores near Dufferin Road and Highway 401.

Security camera footage captured an image of a suspect following the break-and-enter.

Toronto Police issued a news release on the morning of Wednesday, March 15 requesting that those with information contact the police or Crime Stoppers; a text message can also be sent to CRIMES (274637).

U of T commits to hiring Director of Indigenous Initiatives

Administration responds to TRC Steering Committee’s final report

U of T commits to hiring Director of Indigenous Initiatives

U of T has issued a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee’s Final Report, including an acknowledgement of the University of Toronto’s “responsibility in contributing to the plight of Indigenous peoples.”

The statement, titled Humility, Responsibility, Opportunity: In Response to the Report of the University of Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Steering Committee, was released jointly by President Meric Gertler and Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr on February 16.

Gertler and Regehr thanked the Committee for its dedication to crafting the Final Report and stated that the Committee “performed a great service for the University of Toronto, for the extended U of T community, and for Canada.”

“The Commission and the Committee both emphasized that the vital first step towards reconciliation is acknowledging the truth,” reads part of the statement, in a section titled “Challenging but Optimistic.” The statement continues, “To its enormous credit, the Committee’s report does not equivocate in this task; the report both confronts and challenges us with the truth. And we must accept this challenge.”

The committee’s final report was released on January 10. It included 34 ‘Calls to Action’ in which six different working groups gave their criticism and constructive advice to the administration so it can honour the TRC. These working groups focused on: Indigenous Spaces; Indigenous Faculty and Staff; Indigenous Curriculum; Indigenous Research Ethics and Community Relationships; Indigenous Students and Indigenous Co-Curricular Education; and Institutional Leadership/Implementation.

In a section of the final report called “Indigenous Research Ethics and Community Relationships,” the Committee recommends the creation of a “permanent central office in the Provost’s office that supports the success of Indigenous initiatives through resources, education, training and advocacy” and later goes on to detail the existing Indigenous Initiatives & Programming at U of T.

In response to this recommendation, Gertler and Regehr stated that they will appoint a Director of Indigenous Initiatives. A description of the position details that “the Director will have a mandate to coordinate, advise, collaborate, and liaise with academic and non-academic communities addressing the Steering Committee’s calls to action.”

“The Director of Indigenous Initiatives will be important because it will be a position that really consolidates the efforts across the university,” said Regehr in an interview with The Varsity. “Right now groups are working across the university on issues such as space, curriculum, and access. The Director of Indigenous Initiatives is really going to support that and assist us to think about this as a coordinated kind of effort across the university.”

Regehr confirmed that it is the administration’s goal to hire the Director of Indigenous Initiatives in the next couple of months and that the hiring process is already underway.

She also highlighted the administration’s commitment in the budget to allocate $1.5 million in matching funds for creating Indigenous spaces, a major part of the Committee’s final report, as well as funds for 20 new faculty positions and 20 new staff positions respectively, specifically allocated to hiring Indigenous people.

Part of the response to the final report stated that U of T has been complicit in the oppression of Indigenous people.

Clarifying what the university has done to contribute to the plight of Indigenous people, Regehr stated: “Over the years that the University of Toronto has been offering education, we have educated teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses, other professionals, that have contributed to providing services in what we now know to be oppressive systems, such as the residential schools.”

Regehr cited politicians and policy makers who had attended U of T as others who had contributed to oppression of Indigenous peoples.

She went on to add that U of T has “not adequately addressed barriers to participation that have led to underrepresentation of Indigenous staff, students, and faculty, and these are issues that we are seeking to redress.”

Olivia Chow leads panel on women in power at OISE

Event organized by Amnesty International U of T for International Women’s Day

Olivia Chow leads panel on women in power at OISE

On Thursday night, former NDP MP for Trinity–Spadina, Olivia Chow, led a panel on women empowerment at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Chow also ran to be the Mayor of Toronto in 2014.

Amnesty International U of T hosted the event in celebration of International Women’s Day and included speakers such as UTSG Sociology Professor Judith Taylor, Canada’s first Indigenous forensic pathologist Kona Williams, and Samra Zafar, the founder of a non-profit organization that helps survivors of domestic abuse.

Chow, now a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University, spoke about her life story and her beginnings in community activism and local politics.

She recalled that she was initially an artist by profession; her degree was in Fine Arts, and she would often skip the news section of the paper in favour of the arts and entertainment.

It was only when she saw photos of Southeast Asian refugees escaping the horrors in their homeland on boats that she felt inspired to take up political pursuits.

Chow went on to say that it was when she went to a rally for the “boat people” that she was moved to act, and she participated in the push for the federal government to accommodate thousands of refugees in 1979.

Inspired by other Canadian refugee programs, especially those concerning people fleeing South American dictatorships, she ran for political office as a trustee on the Toronto Board of Education and won.

Chow spoke of her student days, when she sat in the back in fear of speaking in public, and contrasted them to today, when she has realized that there are more important things.

Chow also spoke of her successes on the board of education. As a school trustee, she successfully led the campaign to translate 911 emergency calls, arguing that if a person were in danger, they would not be able to receive proper help if the operator did not understand them.

Her push initially failed, as the Police Services Board turned down her request due to limited funding. Nevertheless, she persisted. She organized her community and reached out directly to the immigrants, convincing them to call their local councillor and ask for the service. Eventually, her goal materialized.

In order to succeed, she laid out three important actions: find out who has the power, get your issue on the agenda, and find out how to apply pressure.

Chow concluded, “When people come together we have the power to make the change we want.”

Taylor also spoke on women in power, specifically on the feminist movement. She discussed a project in which she interviewed feminists across the country on how feminism should continue and raised the concern that the movement does not have clear leaders and spokespeople.

Nonetheless, Taylor praised the fact that many people are now talking about issues that are not their own.

Williams spoke on the contrast between modern society and Indigenous communities, which are mostly matrilineal, as women hold considerable power.

Zafar, who was brought to Canada as a child bride, spoke on her ordeal and how she survived emotional and physical abuse. Since leaving her husband, she has been featured in multiple media outlets and has recently founded her not-for-profit organization Brave Beginnings.

Asbestos-containing dust forces closure of lab in Medical Sciences Building

LIFT project construction ongoing

Asbestos-containing dust forces closure of lab in Medical Sciences Building

U of T is warning of potential exposure to asbestos in the Medical Sciences Building after “unusual dust” was reported during renovations in the building.

Trevor Young, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, sent out a notice to all Physiology graduate students and postdocs via email. In addition, the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) disseminated information about asbestos.

The university has been undertaking the $189.9 million Lab Innovation for Toronto (LIFT) project, which aims to make various improvements to laboratory infrastructure on campus.

In November 2016, the university began “asbestos abatement and demolition on five separate sites” within the building.

According to Young, there were reports of “unusual dust” in early February in the sixth-floor lab located at room 6360, which was across from the construction site.

“Immediately upon notification, U of T’s Hazardous Construction Materials Group and [U of T Environmental Health & Safety (EHS)] were advised, attended, took samples and closed the lab,” Young wrote. “Test results February 1 confirmed asbestos in the dust; the lab and its contents were then cleaned, and the labs were cleared for re-occupancy within days.”

EHS also cleaned and cleared two other labs for re-occupancy located at rooms 7366 and 7368. These labs were connected to room 6360 and it was found that they also had asbestos-containing dust.

On February 24, “unusual dust” was also reported at lab 6334, which was located in an area “completely unconnected to the first incident.” Asbestos was also present in the February 24 dust samples.

After the university cleaned and cleared the lab for reoccupancy, dust reappeared there and “it and two lab support rooms were closed on March 7 while further testing was conducted.”

Young states that a third-party contractor continues to sample the air quality, working on one floor per day.

“One lab remains closed; once we are notified by EHS that the space has been inspected and cleared for occupancy, we will let you know,” wrote Young.

UTSC food service worker strike continues

Workers reject Aramark’s final offer, dispute to go before Ministry of Labour board

UTSC food service worker strike continues

Food service workers at UTSC continue to strike as talks proceed between UNITE HERE 75, the union representing the workers, and Aramark, the company that holds the contract to provide food services at the campus.

On strike since February 9, UNITE HERE Local 75 has been negotiating with Aramark over what is deems as unfair wages. According to the union’s press release, most of the Aramark employees at UTSC make $11.50 per hour with little to no benefits. The living wage for Toronto was determined to be $18.52 per hour by a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report.

“Our strikers are standing up to end poverty wages on Toronto’s university campuses,” UNITE HERE’s Organizing Director, David K. Sanders, told The Varsity. “Employers like the University of Toronto should not be hiding poverty wages in the shadows of sub-contractors like Aramark or Compass.”

A picket line at UTSG on March 15, planned to encircle King’s College Circle, was cancelled due to developments in the strike negotiations on March 14.

Aramark put a final offer to the workers, which it called “generous.” After two days of deliberation, according to Sanders, the workers “voted 100% to reject the offer.”

According to a strike statement on Aramark’s website, the offer they presented “is the same settlement accepted by Aramark’s associates at York University who are represented by the same Union, UNITE HERE Local 75.”

The York agreement involved all of the workers reaching a $15 per hour wage within a year and benefits for both full-time and part-time employees.

Marc Hollin, a spokesperson for UNITE HERE, told The Varsity that the offer to the Scarborough workers was slightly different than at York and unsatisfactory to the workers’ bargaining group on three fronts.

“The Scarborough workers start further back and take a little bit longer to get to $15 [per hour] than they do at York,” Hollin said. “The main thing,” he continued, “is that the workers know that the direct employees of the university at the St. George campus make $18 or even a bit higher in many cases. So they feel like they deserve to do better.”

Sanders spoke of a poor negotiation environment. “Unfortunately, the University’s sub-contractor refused to engage in bargaining,” he said. “After the union started the day presenting a new position, the University’s sub-contractor responded with a final offer and said that it was going to demand that that offer be put to a vote by the Ministry of Labour.”

Hollin echoed Sanders’ sentiments about the negotiations process. “With the York bargaining, there was actual bargaining, which we’re used to,” he said. “There was kind of a back and forth.” In the case of the Scarborough final offer, however, “the company just put forward a final offer… it’s not the way we would like to bargain,” Hollin stated.

The offer that the workers turned down will now go before the Ontario Ministry of Labour. At this stage in the negotiation process, the government will organize, conduct, and oversee a vote of all the employees in the bargaining unit on Aramark’s final offer.

There have been calls for the university to step in and enforce a commitment to wage fairness. “The University is [an] anchor institution in our community,” wrote John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, in a letter to President Meric Gertler on March 14.

“At a time when decent work in our city is scarce and when we are plagued by growing inequality especially for new Canadians, women, and racialized communities, our anchor institutions have a vital role to play in setting a standard for decent work,” the letter continues.

Sanders said that the union members “expect the University administration to ensure that a U of T education is not built upon a foundation of poverty wages.”

Aramark disagreed on the role of the university in this. “To be clear, these negotiations are between Aramark Canada and the Union and does not involve the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus,” a statement on Aramark’s website reads. “The responsibility for resolution of this matter rests solely on the Union and on Aramark.”

Hollin said that they “expect the university not to allow poverty wages on their campuses.”

“They’re hiding behind the fact that it’s a contractor, but ultimately they pick the contractor,” Hollin continued. “They are responsible.”

Elizabeth Church, a spokesperson for the university, told The Varsity that “this is a labour dispute between Aramark and food service workers employed by Aramark at UTSC” and declined to comment further. Aramark also declined to comment further.

Referenda for levies pass

Levies will go towards accessibility resources fund, Aerospace Team satellite

Referenda for levies pass

During the elections for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), students voted in two levy referenda: one for establishing levies for an accessibility resources fund, and the other to establish the Innovation Fund for the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT). Both referenda passed.

There were 2,280 votes in favour of the accessibility resources fund and 1,094 votes against. The UTAT’s levy received 1,881 in favour and 1,553 against.

UTSU members at UTSG will pay $0.50 per session, including the summer session, for five years to establish an accessibility fund, as well as $2.77 in the Fall and Winter sessions for two years to establish an Innovation Fund.

Students will have the option to opt out of the UTAT fee, as they do with other levy groups associated with the UTSU.

According to the referendum question for the accessibility levy, the money collected will be spent “exclusively on caption for UTSU events, American Sign Language for UTSU events, personal support workers for UTSU events, and any other accommodations that a member with a disability would need within the UTSU event.”

Farah Noori, the current Vice-President Equity for the UTSU, commented, “As a students union we organize multiple events/initiatives for our members, this fund will help our events/initiatives be more accessible… Personally, I’m just happy that it passed. A lot of students will benefit from this fund.”

The levy will be collected for five years, from fall 2017 to spring 2022, after which another referendum will need to be conducted in order to continue the collection of fees.

The Innovation Fund will be established to support the UTAT’s plan to develop and launch a microbiology research satellite into space.  A large portion of the levy will go towards the actual cost to launch, according to Stephen Dodge, the UTAT’s Director of Business Development.

“The point of the satellite is to do research and publish papers on how fungus will act in space, [because] that’s a big question that we don’t know the answer to,” he said.

In regards to why the UTAT elected to go through the UTSU for funding, Dodge said, “We decided, you know what, this [is] a project made by students, it’s going to deliver a lot of value back to students at the university… so why not go to students and ask them, ‘Hey, is this something that you want to support?’”

“Just the amount of effort that was put in… it would have been terrible to have lost, and I don’t know that I can describe how awesome it is that it passed,” he added.

The UTAT attempted to get a referendum on the ballot last year but was unable to get enough signatures in their petition. The group needed to present a petition with signatures from five per cent of UTSG students.

The group will also be relying on corporate sponsors and the University of Toronto for support, as the fee collected for the Innovation Fund will not be enough to cover the cost of the entire project, particularly if students choose to opt out.

“We don’t want you to be uncomfortable with where your fees go. We just want the people who are excited about UTAT, or at the very least don’t care either way, to be the ones to support us. So we’re very happy if the student exercises the right to opt out, that’s totally fine with us,” said Dodge.

Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article stated that the Innovation Fund would go toward UTAT rockets. In fact, the new levy will go only towards the satellite project, and will last two years, not three. This article has also been updated to clarify that the Innovation Fund levy was established through the referendum, not increased; the new fund is distinct from UTAT’s existing operating levy.

Hundreds of demerit points issued for UTSU elections

Alleged offences include pre-campaigning, transphobic comments, “sabotage”

Hundreds of demerit points issued for UTSU elections

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) election spanned one week, with four slates and multiple independents running for executive and director positions. Allegations of pre-campaigning, transphobia, and cross-campaigning resulted in dozens of instances of demerit points being issued.

The Varsity reviewed rulings from the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) and Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC) to see when and where demerits were issued to each slate and independent executive candidate.

Reboot

The first ruling issued by the CRO resulted in demerit points issued to Reboot for an alleged violation of pre-campaigning rules on March 6. The CRO ruled that Micah Ryu — Reboot’s then-presidential candidate — along with all other executive candidates for Reboot violated the Elections Procedure Code (EPC) for pre-campaigning due to an article published by The Varsity on February 14.

The article discussed the slate’s draft platform, which was obtained by The Varsity through a confidential source and included quotes from Ryu about some platform items. 10 demerit points were issued to the executive candidates.

A subsequent ERC investigation into that ruling maintained the 10 demerit points that were issued to Ryu, along with an additional five demerit points, but later reduced the points awarded to all executive and director candidates.

Also on March 6, Ryu was given five demerit points for pre-campaigning for Reboot in a classroom.

All Reboot candidates also received two demerit points on March 6 for posters and campaign materials that were found overlapping with posters from other slates in the Sidney Smith and Galbraith buildings.

The ruling was appealed and brought down to one demerit point for some candidates.

In an incident from February 27, Ryu was found to have been pre-campaigning while collecting signatures for his presidential candidacy. On March 7, five demerits were issued to all Reboot candidates.

On March 14, the CRO was advised that Alex Bercik, the Reboot candidate for Victoria College director was “engaging in misrepresentation of facts and violating the [sic] fair play.” Bercik was given eight demerit points for misrepresenting the way that election funds are used.

In addition, Reboot was found to be in violation of the EPC’s fair play rules for the moderation of their Facebook page. The slate was found to have been ‘liking’ discriminatory comments about marginalized groups and to have failed to delete abusive comments on their page. Reboot received three demerit points for all candidates.

The ERC ruled against both Vice-President Internal and Services candidate Jessica Leung and Life Sciences Director candidate Avinash Mukkala for allegedly pre-campaigning at a St. George Round Table (SGRT) meeting.

Additional testimony provided by the SGRT showed  that the candidates attended the meeting to present their campaign platform, a pre-campaigning violation. Leung and Mukkala received 10 more demerit points each.

Ryu, along with Engineering candidate Riley Moher, received 10 points each for allegedly posting transphobic comments online.

“I don’t know what these alleged ‘transphobic’ comments are, or why the CRO even made a ruling not only after the election, but after I had been disqualified,” said Moher. Moher told The Varsity that he has reached out to the CRO but has not received a response.

Overall, seven Reboot candidates obtained enough demerit points to be disqualified from the election.

Bercik did not wish to comment on the demerit points for the article saying, “I really had a rough time this election and so as a result I want to stay as far away as I can from student politics from now on.”

When speaking to The Varsity Ryu stressed that he is “no longer involved or affiliated with the slate in question.” However, Ryu said that he would be attending the upcoming ERC meeting on March 20.

With regards to demerit points, Ryu said that “overall, the EPC tries to regulate behaviours that are too difficult to apply objectively… Some violations can theoretically cost a candidate 1 demerit point, or an entire slate 20 demerit points, depending on who is the ERC.

“I think even individuals on the ERC realize this, but they, like the incumbants, are so set on a certain perspective of how the UTSU should run that it seems very unlikely that they will fix the electoral process.”

Demand Better

On March 9, the CRO issued 10 demerit points to Mathias Memmel, Demand Better’s presidential candidate. According to the ruling, Memmel was found to be pre-campaigning for “several months” leading up to the election, speaking about the Demand Better platform at SGRT meetings.

Memmel received an additional five demerit points for a conflict of interest, as his invitation to be a member of the SGRT was due to his current position as Vice-President Internal & Services.

The CRO noted that given Memmel’s current position within the UTSU, the pre-campaigning was “especially condemning.”  Upon review by the ERC, Memmel was found to have never spoken about his campaign at a formal meeting and the demerit points issued were subsequently removed.

Demand Better allegedly removed competing slates’ campaign materials from the pit of Sanford Fleming. According to the CRO complaint, all candidate posters except Demand Better’s were removed. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Chris Dryden, Director candidate for Professional Faculties, Engineering, orchestrated the violation.

Dryden was issued 10 demerit points for the offence, which were later reversed upon receival of a written confession from another individual.

Demand Better candidates received 10 points each for the use of drone footage that was previously used to campaign for last year’s winning slate, Hello UofT. The CRO had initially ruled that five points be awarded for the use of the material, with an additional five points per day that the footage was in use. The ERC then reduced the ruling to one point each.

On March 15, Demand Better was found to have been in violation of the EPC for pre-campaigning by the CRO. Allegedly, Billy Graydon — the Speaker of the UTSU Board of Directors and a board member of the Engineering Society — was found to have been pre-campaigning.

According to the complaint, Graydon allegedly stated that he was part of the “campaign team so to speak” with the “incumbent slate,” which would prove to be “particularly good for engineers if they get in.” Graydon then allegedly circulated the Demand Better platform.

The CRO ruling did not state when this pre-campaigning occurred but provided all Demand Better candidates with 10 demerit points.

The CRO gave two points each to all Demand Better candidates as Sylvia Urbanik, a campaign volunteer, was found to have been posting prototype campaign material online about the Demand Better platform more than one month prior to the start of the elections.

On March 17, the CRO issued 12 demerit points to all Demand Better candidates after the Chinese Undergraduate Association of UTM (CUA UTM) allegedly offered “red envelopes” to students who shared Demand Better’s campaign material and voted.

The CRO describes “red envelopes” as “a mobile application that allows users the opportunity to provide money in the form of virtual credits … [which] is deposited into a user’s WeChat pay account.”

The CRO also alleges that a CUA UTM executive attempted “to cover up the initial distribution of red envelopes in exchange for votes for Demand Better and sabotage the general campaign of We the Students.”

The Varsity has reached out to Memmel and CUA UTM for comment.

We the Students

Jackie Zhao, current Vice-President Internal with the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) and Vice-President Internal candidate for We the Students, was given one demerit point for campaign materials.

The CRO report did not give details of the violation, saying that photographic evidence was provided confirming the offence.

The entirety of the We the Students slate was handed one point by the CRO as a supporting “non-arm’s-length party” was found to be covering up posters of an opposing slate. The complaint was received a second time, and the slate was handed an additional point each.

According to the EPC, a non-arm’s-length party is any individual or group that has either campaigned with a candidate publicly, used the candidate’s campaign materials, or performed campaign related tasks on behalf of a candidate.

The ERC ruled seven demerit points be awarded to We the Students for utilizing a table in Sid Smith that was reserved by a club.

An additional five demerit points were issued to We the Students for “failure to comply with spirt and purpose of the elections.” According to the ERC ruling, it is likely that a member of a club used their status to reserve a table on behalf of We the Students.

We the Students appealed the ruling and reduced their demerit penalty to four points each.

In addition, Zhao allegedly failed to provide a notice of a leave of absence to the UTSU for the campaign period. Zhao is a UTMSU designate, and therefore a member of the executive committee. Executive members that do not declare a leave of absence are considered “unauthorized campaigners” by the CRO and EPC.

Zhao received 10 demerit points for the incident.

We the Students presidential candidate Andre Fast told The Varsity that most of the demerit points were received while campaigning at a table in Sidney Smith. Fast said that his slate “[respects] the decision made by the CRO and ERC.”

Fast also stated, “To my knowledge there are currently outstanding appeals before the ERC that appear to be significant and could potentially change the outcome of the election. I along with the rest of the student body will be waiting to see how the ERC handles these appeals.”

Other candidates

No members of the Whomst’d’ve slate received demerit points.

Independent Vice-President External candidate Anne Boucher received 10 demerit points for endorsements from non-UTSU members after posting online about a meeting with the U of T Health and Wellness team.

The CRO found that Boucher “failed to comply with the spirit and purpose of the elections.”

Boucher appealed the ruling and the ERC found that the photo would not be counted as an endorsement. All of Boucher’s points were then reversed.