The conclusion to the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) election season came in a bag of mixed, and as yet unofficial, results on March 16. The Demand Better slate dominated the executive positions, with We the Students placing a single candidate on the Executive and a rare outcome of an independent candidate winning a position.
President-elect Mathias Memmel said he’s “indescribably grateful to have been given the chance to do some good.”
He noted that faith in new possibilities for the union was part of both the campaign and what he intends to bring into his term in office.
“Students put their faith in us, but also in people who didn’t run with us” he said. “So I need to have faith that those people also want something better.”
While Hello UofT and Brighter UofT swept the Executive last year and the year before, respectively, Demand Better was unable to claim the Vice-President University Affairs and Vice-President External positions, which went to We the Students’ Carina Zhang and independent Anne Boucher, respectively.
“I’m sad that we lost Josie and Fasiha, but I also want to make things work with Carina and Anne,” Memmel said. “It won’t be business as usual at the UTSU, and we can’t afford another year of infighting.”
Vice-President Internal-elect Daman Singh expressed gratitude for having been given the mandate to fulfill the promises he made during the campaign. “I’m excited to work with everyone on the incoming team on our common goal of fixing the UTSU,” he said.
“If there is one thing that this election shows, [it’s] that students aren’t happy with the UTSU,” Singh continued. “[It’s] not a coincidence that every candidate in this election ran on a platform of some sort of change.”
Vice-President External-elect Anne Boucher is a rare case of an independent making it to the Executive. “I was, and still am, extremely shocked and excited,” she said.
Boucher is not concerned with the ability of a mixed-slate executive to get work done. “I firmly believe that this executive team is filled with bright, competent people, and I think we’ll all work very well together,” she said. “We all want to make fundamental changes. We all want the UTSU to be fixed. And that, to me, is very promising.”
On her victory, Boucher said she thinks that being an independent allowed her to stand out in the midst of a messy election season.
“I think I just luckily came in at a good time, too,” she explained, “The common feeling I came to gradually observe was disenchantment with the concept of slates in general.”
Vice-President University Affairs-elect Carina Zhang said that despite the fact that the unofficial Executive results are in, nothing is set in stone for next year. “I understand that the results are not final and there may be complaints to be ruled on,” Zhang said, and “that could change the outcome of the election.”
“I would be more than happy to get real change to work on issues like exam deferral, free menstrual products and international student rights, once the results become official.”
Vice-President Equity-elect Chimwemwe Alao said he is “incredibly humbled and honoured that the students believe in [him] and gave [him] this opportunity.”
Alao noted that “the same equity problems with the UTSU remain,” and, looking forward, “this year is particularly important as we need to try and heal and move forward from the past year.”
Vice-President Campus Life-elect Stuart Norton is “incredibly excited to be the next VP Campus Life,” and said he’s “looking forward to working together with everyone on the incoming team in bringing the change that we promised during the campaign.”
Norton’s biggest takeaway from the campaign was that many clubs feel unsupported by the UTSU. “It’s a problem that numerous clubs don’t see what the advantage of being a UTSU recognized club is,” he said, and that he’s “looking forward to working with these clubs in reforming both the recognition and funding process, as well as expanding the resources available to them.”
Vice-President Professional Faculties-elect Shivani Nathoo is “grateful to have been given this opportunity,” and said she is very excited to work… with everyone on the common goal of improving the UTSU.”
Nathoo is encouraged by the increase in voter turnout during this year’s election. “It’s clear that students care about the UTSU,” she said, “and aren’t happy with the current state it’s in.”