Nearly one fourth of the total bedbug population at Trinity College selected ‘abstain’ on their ballots in the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) spring elections this year. With abstentions making up 70–80 per cent of the total votes for each UTSU position, the total number of bedbug abstentions recorded this year is 9,657.
In a statement written on behalf of the roughly 40,000 bedbugs that currently populate the college, the Head Bedbugs at Trinity College explained the reasoning behind the abstentions.
“The Trinity administration and students at the college literally want to crush us,” the statement reads. “And despite our best efforts at pro-bug activism, the UTSU has failed to reach the majority at Trinity. Bedbugs collectively abstaining from the UTSU elections should clearly communicate that we will not tolerate such abuse.”
The fight for bedbugs to be recognized as a UTSU constituency has been long-standing, as bedbugs have repeatedly complained that Trinity administrators and student groups have failed to meet their needs. Meanwhile, students at Trinity have publicly expressed their distaste for bedbugs, sometimes encouraging the administration to remove them from the college altogether.
One student with multiple bedbug roommates told the Toronto Star, “I just think it’s really wrong that we have to stay in a room that’s infested with bugs.” Though this statement was condemned as “anti-bug” by members of the Trinity College Bug Equity Committee, no punitive actions were taken against the student.
The Trinity College Domestic God(esse)s Society (TCDGS), a club dedicated to cooking elaborate four-course meals for its members, brought complaints directly to the administration earlier this year regarding the number of bedbugs present in one of the Trinity College kitchens. In an interview with The Farcity, Buzz TF Awf, Head Goddess of the TCDGS, stated that the bedbugs’ presence prevented the group from “operating in a sanitary environment,” and laughed when the reporter mentioned that many bugs consider the TCDGS’s conduct to be “exclusionary.”
Members of Trinity College’s Rural Residency Association, many of whom identify as “anti-U-Pass,” have also expressed support for the UTSU’s decision to exclude bedbugs from this year’s U-Pass referendum. In a statement on Facebook, the organization’s Chief Tractor Operator wrote, “Most of us think the U-Pass is a bad deal, as it does not include students who take tractors to campus — students deserve better. An overwhelming bug majority at Trinity shouldn’t be allowed to sway the vote for those of us who don’t benefit.”
In a prior story, The Farcity conducted a content analysis of minutes of the Trinity College Meeting (TCM), revealing that in the games of ‘fuck, marry, kill’ played with candidates for Heads of College, bedbug candidates are often the ones that are ‘killed.’
The annual Trinity event dedicated to celebrating the bedbug community, Buggly, was also abruptly cancelled this year, much to many bedbugs’ dismay. The Trinity College administration declined The Farcity’s requests for comment.
The populist Bugless slate — stylized ‘🐛ugless’ — in this year’s UTSU elections also sparked outrage for what has been referred to as “anti-infestation rhetoric.” Tensions spiked when it was revealed during the second candidates’ debate that the 🐛ugless candidate for President has ties to a Toronto exterminator.
After continuous lobbying from bedbug activists, UTSU Vice-President Equity Him Chalao put forth a motion before the Board of Directors in January 2018, seeking to include bedbugs as part of the union’s membership. At the following meeting, President Tamhias Lemmem promised that bedbugs would be granted their own Chief Returning Insect, and that “supplementary efforts” would be made to reach out to bedbugs on campus. There is no evidence to suggest that either action was taken, and the UTSU did not respond to The Farcity’s requests for comment.
Among those bedbugs who were willing to speak with The Farcity, the most common complaints about the UTSU elections were that there were no bedbug candidates running in any of the races, and that the majority of human candidates ran uncontested.
“I am deeply disappointed by what has happened to our community this year, and Trinity and the UTSU should be ashamed of themselves,” Trinity Head of Bedbugs told The Farcity. “Especially about the U-Pass thing. That’s all most bugs cared about anyway.”
Abstentions from bedbugs buoyed voter turnout to an astronomical three per cent this year — the highest ever recorded in UTSU history.