The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Appellate Board has struggled to recruit members, though job listings for board positions have been posted on the union’s website as early as October 2017. The quasi-judicial board is in charge of hearing appeals about elections, grievances against the UTSU, and executive reviews.
Created in 2016, the board’s mandate is to ensure a fair, unbiased elections process. UTSU President Mathias Memmel emphasized the importance of having an appellate board, describing it as “the supreme court” of the UTSU.
“We created the Appellate Board because we recognized that there was a need for a genuinely arm’s-length adjudicator, especially in the context of elections,” said Memmel. “Despite aggressive advertising, we struggle to find students — especially law students — to sit on the Appellate Board.”
“If we want the Appellate Board to work, we need to develop a culture of mature, process-based decision-making,” he continued. “At the moment, most students aren’t interested in wading into UTSU politics.”
He also noted that other university students’ unions, including the Students’ Society of McGill University and the Alma Mater Society at Queen’s University, follow a similar quasi-judicial model and have not had the same issues filling board positions.
Under Bylaw 18 of the UTSU, the board is supposed to consist of four law students and three first-entry undergraduate students who have completed at least two years of study. An understanding of the UTSU’s procedures for grievances, knowledge of legal writing and the format of legal statutes in Canada, and prior experience on other quasi-judicial bodies are some of the assets required for potential applicants listed on the job’s page. Those who have held office in the UTSU are ineligible to apply.
The UTSU Appellate Board was established after the abolition of the Elections and Referenda Appeals Committee in 2014, which Memmel described as being deemed “openly biased and implicated in deliberate electoral fraud.”
Disclosure: Teodora Pasca, The Varsity’s Comment Editor, is a member of the UTSU’s Appellate Board.