Aidan Swirsky, University College (UC) Director on the UTSU Board of Directors, announced his resignation on January 16, effective immediately.
In an email to the board, Swirsky wrote that “over the past few months, a number of ongoing personal and professional disagreements with some colleagues” contributed to his resignation. He also expressed worry about the advocacy work that he had wanted to “continue from first term and commence this term, including the fulfillment of certain campaign promises.”
Swirsky did not specify to which colleagues he was referring.
His resignation also necessitated his departure from the UC Literary and Athletic Society (UC Lit), UC’s student government, because UTSU directors are ex officio members of the student government.
Swirsky ran in the March 2017 elections as a member of the Demand Better slate, alongside UTSU President Mathias Memmel. The issues Swirsky campaigned on included lobbying UC for increased accessibility, having the UTSU work more with UC’s Student Life office, and advocating for lower tuition fees and stronger anti-discrimination policies.
In an email to The Varsity, Swirsky wrote that he has “reached a point where the divergence in beliefs with some of whom I ran with and greatly committed to last election cycle has taken too much of an emotional toll on me to stay in this situation.”
Swirsky said that he will continue to engage the UTSU’s commissions, specifically the Academic and Students’ Rights Commission, the Social Justice and Equity Commission, and the Campus Action Commission.
University College will not go on without representation. Kshemani Constantinescu and Anushka Kurian, who ran with Swirsky, will stay on the board.
“Aidan is going to be sorely missed. He’s been a unique, committed person to work with and we’re sorry to see him go, but we’re proud he’s made a decision that’s best for him,” said Kurian.
“Aidan has faith that Anushka and I, with his support, will be able to do our constituents justice in representing their interests on the board,” said Constantinescu.
Memmel said that Swirsky’s departure “is a loss for the board.” He continued, “I’m not going to pretend that he and I didn’t disagree on a number of issues… but I’ve always respected his independence and willingness to speak his mind.”
Swirsky has been a UC representative on the UTSU Board of Directors since May 2017, and he served in various positions on UC Lit since April 2015.
He has also been heavily involved in many community issues, including co-organizing a student consultation session on the university’s proposed mandatory leave of absence policy.
“If the policy unfortunately passes, even after the hard work that has been put in by countless student activists to direct it away from its concerning current state,” said Swirsky, “the next step in the process for the students working now will have to be creating ways to support students who are at risk of being subject to the Policy.”
Memmel said that it was likely too late in the year to fill Swirsky’s vacancy, adding that the board will decide how to proceed at its next meeting on January 26.