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Governing Council elections results released

Price Amobi Maka, Edie Guo, Litos Li among students elected

Governing Council elections results released

Governing Council elections results have been released after more than a month of campaigning. There were eight positions available, intended to represent full-time undergraduates in Arts and Science, Mississauga, and Scarborough, full-time undergraduates in Professional Faculties, and graduate students in Humanities & Social Sciences and Physical Sciences & Life Sciences

UTM student Price Amobi Maka was one of two people elected to represent full-time undergraduates from the Faculty of Arts and Science, as well as the Mississauga and Scarborough campuses. He received 607 votes, the highest of all 23 candidates.

Maka, a fourth year Political Science and Criminology student, ran on a platform of lobbying for lower tuition fees, cooperating with clubs, pushing for increased funding for academic societies, and creating a safe and inclusive environment for student events.

“My campaign trail was rigorous and dire with its share of ups and downs,” said Maka. “But overall, I am extremely happy with the results for the sole purpose of the team I had behind me, backing me up and riding for me with their support the whole way through.”

Trinity College student Edie Guo was also elected for the same constituency, garnering 471 votes. A member of the Hart House Board of Stewards, she campaigned for an improved exam repository that included all answers, having CR/NCR available after exams, and setting up a mental health emergency room, among others.

“I campaigned on five points during my election in areas of academic support, mental support, and increased investment in green energy,” Guo told The Varsity. “I hope that my points could be achieved and I hope the issues that I prioritize are of the utmost efficiency to both the students and the university.”

Litos Li, a student in the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Engineering, and Tom Sutherland, a student in the Faculty of Law, won the election to represent full-time undergraduates in Professional Faculties.

Li’s campaign advocated for affordable education and improvements in mental health services. Sutherland, a former Student Governor on the board of the University of Western Ontario, campaigned on a platform of fostering open communication with members of the constituency.

“I would advocate for improved learning experience and international students rights,” Li said. “Ever since I posted my campaign material in various platforms, I received a lot of passionate responses about what I’m advocating for. The university should definitely enhance its health and wellness center and pay more attention to students learning environment (physically) as well.”

Li received the highest number of votes of all nine candidates for the position, garnering 276 altogether. Sutherland earned 114 votes. Although two candidates, Zhenglin Liu and Twesh Upadhyaya, both engineering students, received more votes than Sutherland, election rules dictate that the victors are not allowed to be from the same academic division.

“I hope to ensure that the interests of the professional students don’t fall to the wayside when the university makes decisions,” Sutherland wrote in an email to The Varsity. “University is tough, but it shouldn’t be tough for the wrong reasons such as financial hardship, poorly structured academic programs, or alienating work lives.”

School of Public Policy and Governance Student Harry Orbach-Miller was elected to represent graduate students in Humanities and Social Sciences, and Sandhya Mylabathula was elected to represent graduates in physical Sciences and Life Sciences.

Trinity College student Susan Froom and Woodsworth College student Mala Kashyap will represent part-time undergraduate students. Their positions were acclaimed prior to the voting period as they were the only two candidates running.

Governing Council is the highest decision-making body at the University of Toronto, and it includes eight students among its ranks.

This article has been updated to reflect comment from Price Amobi Maka, Edie Guo, Litos Li, and Tom Sutherland.

Read the full collective agreement between CUPE 3902 Unit 1 and the university

Agreement includes wage increases, more graduate funding, and paid leave

Read the full collective agreement between CUPE 3902 Unit 1 and the university

During a ratification vote that ended February 16, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3902 Unit 1 approved a new collective agreement reached with the university on February 9. CUPE 3902 Unit 1 represents teaching assistants, student and postdoctoral course instructors, and exam invigilators.

The new collective agreement will be in place until December 31, 2020 and will include all the terms of the previous collective agreement, which expired on December 31, 2017.

The Varsity has obtained a copy of the full memorandum of agreement, which was provided to CUPE 3902 members in advance of the ratification vote.

Wage increases, funding, and workload

According to the agreement, course instructors’ annual wages, including vacation pay, will increase seven per cent from $14,770.24 to $15,800 in 2018; teaching assistants’ pay will increase by 1.8 per cent to $44.44 per hour; invigilators will see a 7.3 per cent increase from $38.22 per hour to $41; Chief Presiding Officers’ wages will grow 7.8 percent to $31 per hour; Assistant Invigilators’ wages will increase two percent to $29.34 per hour; and Peer Assistants will see a 1.8 per cent increase to $38.32 an hour. All wages will increase by two per cent in both 2019 and 2020.

The newly established Employee Financial Assistance Fund (EFAF) will be used to finance the already existing Childcare Financial Assistance Fund, Research Assistance Defence Fund, International Health Plan Assistance Fund, U of T Family Plan Assistance Fund. This fund will be composed of $3.2 million per year plus a one-time transition payment of $700,000.

The Graduate Student Bursary Fund (GSBF) and Tuition Assistance Fund will be eliminated. Money from the EFAF will be used to create a successor to the GSBF. Unit members who are graduate students receiving funding will be given a letter from their department to apply for funding administered by the union; funding will constitute $17,500 in 2018–2019, increasing by $500 each year. EFAF money will also be used to create a successor to the Tuition Assistance Fund, which will reduce out-of-pocket tuition costs by $2,000–3,000.

“We expect the gains in this agreement will make a big difference in the lives of our members and we think the ratification vote reflects this,” CUPE 3902 Unit 1 spokesperson Aleks Ivovic wrote in an email to The Varsity. “We hope the University will engage with the issue of graduate student funding seriously in the coming years.

“The next review of graduate funding is to begin in the 2018-2019 academic year and we hope the University will meet the level of graduate funding that our members and all graduate students deserve.”

Health care and mental health coverage

Health care coverage will continue in a similar manner as the previous collective agreement, with some additions. There is an increase to $15,000 maximum in drug coverage per person per year, as well as a $15,000 maximum combined health plan plan coverage. Maximum vision coverage is increased from $175 to $225 per year. Maximum speech pathology is covered at $1,300 per year and there is an increased maximum of $1,350 for dental coverage.

Employees are entitled to up to four months of paid leave for mental health purposes, up from two months. Also part of the agreement is an increase from $1,000 to $2,500 per person per year to access the services of a psychologist, social worker, or psychotherapist.

Notably, the collective agreement states that employees are entitled to one month of paid Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave. This is the first collective agreement signed by U of T to provide this. Additionally, a mechanism has been added to report workplace harassment anonymously.

“We made meaningful gains in all of our major priority areas. Many of these are unprecedented,” wrote Ivovic.

The Varsity has reached out to the university for comment.

Read the full memorandum of agreement below.

With files from Ilya Bañares

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