At the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union’s (SCSU) six-hour 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on November 14, motions to fund the Muslim Chaplaincy, as well as the UTSC Women’s and Trans Centre’s (WTC) 2019 conference Making HERstory, were proposed and met with controversy over whether to donate money.
The motions for the SCSU to give $25,000 annually to the Muslim Chaplaincy for operational costs were struck down by members in attendance.
SCSU Vice-President Equity Chemi Lhamo said that although there are other religious groups on campus, none of them are funded by the SCSU. Some other religious groups at UTSC include the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Jewish Student Life.
A union member at the meeting said that it is unfair to other religious groups for the SCSU to fund only the Muslim Chaplaincy.
Union member and 2018 SCSU presidential candidate Ray Alibux proposed that the SCSU should instead donate $25,000 for a multi-faith chaplaincy in order to make the motion fairer to all religious groups at UTSC.
“Having a single fund for a single group may lead to issues like people feeling excluded,” said Alibux.
Another member opposed Alibux’s amendment, saying, “We have no money, that’s why we amended the [previous] motions.”
Alibux’s amendment failed and other amendments to strike out the motions asking for the SCSU to donate to the Muslim Chaplaincy passed.
The same motion also proposed that the SCSU provide a permanent space for the Muslim Chaplaincy. Members expressed concerns that this motion may create conflict between religious groups at UTSC.
Lhamo proposed to amend the motion to say that the SCSU will lobby for U of T to pay for it, and permanent spaces would be provided for both the Muslim Chaplaincy and other multi-faith initiatives.
SCSU President Nicole Brayiannis spoke in favour of Lhamo’s amendment, and said that future plans for buildings like the Instructional Centre II will provide “ample opportunity” to lobby for the spaces.
After a long discussion, the much-amended motion was finally passed.
Women’s and Trans Centre
Shagun Kanwar, the Finance and Safety Coordinator at the WTC, moved for the SCSU to contribute $7,000 to WTC’s 2019 conference, Making HERstory. The motion was amended so that the monetary support was lower, after concerns from students about where the money would come from and where it would go.
When asked why the WTC needed $7,000 more if it already had $40,000 in levies, Kanwar said that much of the levies were spent on honorariums for WTC coordinators.
Each WTC coordinator receives $8,000 for two semesters.
“The honorarium in there is not reasonable,” said one student.
Raymond Dang, the Director of Political Science on the SCSU board, disagreed and said that WTC coordinators deserved to be paid this amount because “a lot of the time a lot of these coordinators pass their hours [for their pay].”
WTC External Coordinator Leon Tsai presented the budget breakdown for the conference, which showed that out of the total cost of $30,000, about $24,000 was allocated toward speakers and performances, while $6,000 was for logistics. Of the $24,000, over $20,000 of that would be paid toward the keynote speaker, whom the WTC members said was a highly regarded #MeToo figure.
According to Brayiannis, since most of the surplus money is budgeted toward building maintenance like roof repairs, most of the donations to WTC would have to come from the donations line.
In hopes of being practical with the donations line, which has a limit of $5,000 for all entities, Lhamo said that access to funding is already difficult anywhere. She emphasized the SCSU’s role as WTC’s co-collaborator and wanted to change SCSU’s donation from $7,000 to $2,500.
Lhamo’s amendment to lower the SCSU’s monetary contribution passed. Kanwar’s motion for the SCSU to assist WTC in advertising the conference also passed.