Bylaw amendments were the main topics of discussion at the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on November 23 in the William G. Davis Building at UTM. Major changes included an increase to the number of signatures needed for calling a general meeting, as well as a new policy for how students can bring forward grievances they have against the union.
At the start of bylaw amendment discussions, University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Vice-President External Anne Boucher motioned to externalize four of the proposed amendments, including the two mentioned above. The motion passed, which required those four to be discussed and voted on separately from other amendments. These discussions represented the bulk of the yearly meeting.
Signatures for general meetings
One of the amendments put forward increased the number of signatures required to call general meetings to five per cent of the UTMSU membership, which currently consists of over 13,000 students, making the new quorum approximately 650 students. The previous requirement was 250 students, and the original raise proposed in the amendment was 10 per cent of the membership, or 1,300 students.
During the discussions, Boucher voiced concerns that 10 per cent was too high, suggesting the number be changed instead to 500 signatures, or approximately four per cent of the membership.
After extensive debate, UTMSU President Salma Fakhry was the one to propose the successful motion of the number being lowered to 5 per cent as a compromise to the 10 per cent that was originally suggested, which she called a “standard” number.
Boucher responded by saying, “I just wanted to let the room know that the UTSU’s is only one per cent, so it’s not actually standard.”
A new bylaw was passed detailing how members can bring to attention grievances that they may have against the UTSMU. According to the bylaw, this is to ensure that the union can “make itself an open and accessible space to all members.”
The bylaw states that “any such Grievance shall be put in writing and addressed to the Grievance Officer, who shall be the President of the Union.” The officer will meet with the concerned parties and, depending on the grievance, may direct the complaint to a relevant committee. The resolution will be decided by a majority vote of committee members present at the meeting.
Boucher proposed an amendment to the bylaw, saying that there should be more than one Grievance Officer, and that they should “function as an impartial appellate board.”
“The reason why I am proposing this change is just in the case [of] a grievance against an executive member or the president themselves. It’s very hard to be impartial and non-biased in this position,” said Boucher.
Fakhry spoke against Boucher’s proposal, saying, “We’d rather very much keep it to the decision making of the board to compile the Executive Review Committee if such an occurrence or such a grievance were to come against the executive.”
Other notable AGM events included the approval of the financial statements of the UTMSU and of The Blind Duck pub, a division of the student union. UTMSU Vice President Internal Vikko Qu explained that the World University Service of Canada program ran a $24,000 deficit to financially support an additional refugee student whom “the administration refused to support” aside from registration.
In addition, Qu said that The Blind Duck is running a deficit, which UTMSU Executive Director Munib Sajjad clarified was due to the executive’s decision to not increase the price of food despite the increase in cost of sales.
Qu also mentioned that club expenditures went down because some clubs did not collect their funding cheques or pass audited financial statements, and that Student Centre expenditures were diminished because there were fewer events held on campus this year.
The UTMSU also voted to switch auditors of the financial statements from Charles Havill, CPA to Glenn Graydon Wright LLP, as Fakhry said the former no longer exists.