The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) hosted its second general meeting of the academic year on March 8 to address concerns regarding the SCSU elections and motions related to other issues. This is the first time that the SCSU has hosted two meetings in the same academic year. The last general meeting took place in November 2017.
The meeting served as a platform to discuss the financial statements from the academic year and several motions brought forward by students.
These motions included increasing funding for the Departmental Student Associations (DSA), splitting the Director of Anthropology and Health Studies, updating and renovating multi-faith prayer rooms, and improved promotion of future general meetings.
After an amendment to the order of the agenda, the meeting skipped to the first agenda item: a motion to improve UTSC Orientation for newcomers and to look into the feasibility of having demonstrations, hands-on programming, and events intended to prepare incoming students for their first year at UTSC.
This motion was moved by Katie Konstantopoulos, a student and volunteer at the food centre, who also moved the next four motions. Konstantopoulos said that orientations tend to be a “large party” and are not well suited for students who are not well adjusted in crowds. A few other students spoke about having more decompression areas and more resources during orientation. The motion passed.
The second agenda item was a motion to improve orientation on campus, address food literacy, add the food centre to campus tours, and familiarize students with where and how they can access food on campus. It passed after being put directly to a vote.
The next motion was to improve the way SCSU advertises its events; it asked the SCSU to commit to taking measures to ensure that all students are aware of their rights prior to and during all the meetings, and also to make sure that all proxy form requirements are advertised well ahead of time. The motion passed.
The next two motions addressed the issue of transparency between the students and the SCSU.
The first of these two motions asked that the SCSU conduct itsmeetings with proper live streaming, that the transcripts from the meetings be provided to the students within a reasonable time before elections, and that the SCSU provide these recommendations to its Elections and Referenda Committee.
The motion was amended to change “within a reasonable time” to 48 hours, as attendees believed it isn’t a job for a week’s time and could be completed faster. The motion passed.
The second motion asked the SCSU to ensure that the “Meeting Minutes” package be viewable on its website in adequate time, and that the AGM packages be accessible on the website a week before the proxy process. It also included that a proceedings document be developed after the meeting and circulated. The motion was immediately called to question. With a majority in favor, the motion passed.
The next item on the agenda was a motion to increase the funding for the DSAs to $20,000, in which $16,000 would be allocated to the 16 DSAs and the remaining $4,000 for further support.
Attendees debated heavily on both sides. Ahmad Shanqiti, a student and member of UTSC’s Academic Affairs Committee, put forward a motion for this motion to be postponed until after everyone went through the financial statements. He believes that it’s important to understand what the numbers look like in comparison. When it moved to a vote, the motion to postpone failed.
Many attendees believed that $20,000 was too large of an amount to be allotted to the DSAs. Christina Arayata, the union’s Vice-President Academics & University Affairs, clarified the financial statements for the DSAs, saying that the funding pool had $16,000 already and that only about $3,000 was used in the 2017–2018 session. She, and many other students, said that they were only pulling away money from other resources that could put it to better use.
After discussion, which went on for about an hour, the motion was finally called to question and it moved on to a vote, and the motion passed by a slim margin.
In an interview with The Varsity after the meeting, Shanqiti said, “I felt that aside from having to inherently waste our time due to the ensuing questions regarding the financial statements, people voting on a matter without having all the information is immoral no matter how they feel about the topic.”
At around 10:30 pm, Shanqiti put forward a motion to adjourn the meeting. However, with many students looking forward to the four other motions that were still left on the agenda, the motion did not pass.
The meeting moved on to the next item, but due to time and space constraints, the meeting had to be adjourned at 11:00 pm. This left many students disappointed as the remaining motions were shifted to the next general meeting, which will take place in November.