The University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) final board of directors meeting of this school year, scheduled for April 29, will feature two highly contentious motions concerning the union’s lawsuit against former Executive Director Sandy Hudson and the proposed cuts to services provided by two UTSU staff members.
The motion to end the lawsuit against Hudson was submitted by Jackie Zhao, Vice-President Internal for the UTMSU and the UTMSU designate for the UTSU. Zhao’s motion, if approved, would have the UTSU offer to drop its claim in exchange for Hudson dropping her counterclaim. Zhao also ran for Vice-President Internal with the We the Students slate during the most recent UTSU election cycle.
The UTSU commenced legal proceedings against Hudson in September 2015, alleging that Hudson was improperly issued severance pay amounting to $247,726.40. In addition to that amount, the union is also seeking $200,000 in damages, claiming that Hudson deliberately destroyed confidential information. Hudson filed a countersuit against the union in December 2015, alleging hostilities from the incoming UTSU executives at that time.
In the motion, Zhao characterizes the lawsuit as one that “perpetuates and contributes to anti-Black racism within the UTSU, UofT, and the broader community.” Zhao also calls for an independent review and “critical analysis” to “involve communicating with Black students and student groups for the purpose of understanding the way the lawsuit has negatively impacted them.” Similar requests have previously been made by the Black Liberation Collective, a group that held a protest regarding the lawsuit at the UTSU office in October 2016.
UTMSU Director Felipe Nagata has also filed a motion to “postpone the cessation of services” provided by Clubs and Service Groups Coordinator Vita Carlino and Health and Dental Plan Coordinator Maria Galvez, who are two of the UTSU’s full-time staff. The UTSU’s Services Committee voted to end these services on March 27 and the union intends to eliminate these positions.
Vice-President Internal and incoming President Mathias Memmel has claimed that the union would reach a deficit of $1.5 million by 2022, and $2.5 million by 2027 if these positions are not eliminated. The preamble of Nagata’s motion states, “the incoming board members have not been brought up to date on finances of union and the role of these services,” and that the union “has not shared or consulted ANY divisional groups and stakeholders of these services.”
Opponents to these proposed cuts held protests against the union at the Annual Ratification Meeting and the March 31 board meeting.
The April 29 board meeting is scheduled to take place at 10:00 a.m. at Woodsworth College.