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Scarborough Campus Students’ Union disregards AGM consensus, votes to give more money to Women’s and Trans Centre

Additional $4,500 granted despite students voting against it at AGM

Scarborough Campus Students’ Union disregards AGM consensus, votes to give more money to Women’s and Trans Centre

Despite a rejection from students at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in November, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union’s (SCSU) Board of Directors voted to give an additional $4,500 to the UTSC Women’s and Trans Centre (WTC) for its annual conference.

During the AGM, the WTC requested $7,000 for its Making HERstory 2019 conference, but students voted to reduce the amount to $2,500.

This was largely due to concerns about the SCSU’s financial situation, as well as reluctance over giving such a large amount, especially because the WTC already receives $40,000 in levies.

At the board meeting on November 27, Political Science Director Raymond Dang motioned to give the WTC an additional $4,500 to complete the $7,000 that it requested for the conference. Dang called it a “one-time special amount.”

The money would be drawn from the SCSU’s unrestricted contingency fund. This fund does not include Health, Dental, and Student Centre Reserve funds.

While debating this motion, SCSU Physical and Environmental Science Director Zakia Fahmida Taj said that the student body already decided on this matter during the AGM. “We’re supposed to be representing the student body itself,” Taj said.

SCSU President Nicole Brayiannis agreed, saying that she would be “cautious” about giving more money.

In response, Dang claimed that there was “misinformation” during the AGM, which caused students to assume that the SCSU would be put into deficit if the full $7,000 was provided to the WTC.

Dang’s motion said that the SCSU has a “$66,745 allocation to [the] contingency reserve.”

Brayiannis proposed that the requested additional amount of $4,500 be reduced to $2,500, which would be added to the $2,500 previously settled during the AGM, totalling to $5,000.

According to Brayiannis, since students at the AGM already agreed on $2,500, and that $7,000 was too high, a total of $5,000 would be an “assured amount.”

SCSU Vice-President Equity Chemi Lhamo agreed with Brayiannis’ motion. She said that because of the “lack of information” at the AGM, students also chose not to fund sponsorship opportunities like the multi-faith initiative.

“By allowing one entity to access a certain unrestricted fund, I do not think that upholds the values of the union,” Lhamo said.

Several other students expressed their confusion as to why the SCSU could not provide the original requested money. Executive Director Francis Pineda said that the budget is “healthy” and that there are funds to support this motion.

Lhamo said that it is “not smart to overspend just because there is money.”

Dang argued that the money was needed because “$2,500 plus $2,500 does not equal $7,000. It equals $5,000. That is not sufficient funding [for the conference].”

Tensions rose in the room and the chair requested for people not to communicate with each other in a “distracting way,” and that people should not slam their name cards down.

Dang also asked the room to “keep things civil” and not to call people names in public or private conversation. He asked others to refrain from using “bad language.”

WTC members expressed that the WTC was already “exhausting [its] resources,” having been rejected by Hart House to receive help with funding. They added that the WTC was already in collaboration with internal and external clubs.

Brayiannis’ motion to amend the amount from $4,500 to $2,500 failed. The motion for the $4,500 to be provided to the WTC passed and the meeting moved on to the in-camera session.

At around 10:00 pm, Brayiannis motioned for the meeting to table, which passed. This meant that the remaining items on the agenda would all be moved to the next meeting in January.

The Varsity has reached out to Lhamo, Dang, and the WTC for comment.

Letter to the Editor: The Varsity broke an agreement at the UTGSU AGM

Re: "Graduate Students’ Union’s failed AGM puts organization at risk of financial default"

Letter to the Editor: <em loading=The Varsity broke an agreement at the UTGSU AGM"/>

As members of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) and department council representatives, we were disappointed by the decision of The Varsity to live tweet during the recent annual general meeting and general council meeting on December 3.

We think it is commendable that The Varsity is covering these meetings. We are supporters of the free press, and we think that The Varsity’s journalism has the potential to make an important contribution to the UTGSU by making the meeting proceedings more accessible and helping to hold our leadership accountable.

However, while we think it is a positive thing to have journalists present at these meetings, the meetings are for members of the union, and it is fully within the rights of the union to ask for conditions on their participation. Asking for prohibitions on certain types of media or requiring the chair’s discretion to be seated are not uncommon procedures.  

At the Annual General Meeting (AGM), the chair used his discretion to seat the Varsity journalists under the condition that they would not record audio, take pictures, or live tweet the meeting. This was stated publicly to the entire room. During the general council meeting that followed the AGM, council was made aware that The Varsity had been live tweeting during the entire AGM, and they were asked to leave by the chair.

We don’t fully understand why The Varsity chose to live tweet during the AGM, but in doing so The Varsity violated a publicly stated agreement. Being asked to leave was a direct consequence of the decision of The Varsity to disregard their agreement with the membership present in the room.

Readers of this letter may believe that the journalists should live tweet these meetings — we agree, and think it’s something that should be discussed in the future. At this meeting, however, the publicly stated agreement was that live tweeting should not take place, and The Varsity disregarded this. This type of blatant disregard for the will of UTGSU members fosters an atmosphere of distrust between members and The Varsity.

We hope that The Varsity covers future meetings. We think that this benefits the UTGSU and strengthens a democratic institution. However, whatever agreements are put in place need to be clearly communicated in advance to everyone in the room and then subsequently upheld.


Robert Fajber, UTGSU member and council representative for the Physics Department

Anna Cwikla, UTGSU member and council representative for the Department for the Study of Religion

Aris Spourdalakis, UTGSU member and council representative for the Physics Department

Lisa Labine, UTGSU member and council representative for Graduate Student Association Scarborough (GSAS)

Qusai Hassan, UTGSU member President of GSAS and council representative

McKinzey Manes, UTGSU member and Faculty Council Representative for the Master of Information Student Council

Charlie White, UTGSU member and council representative for the Graduate Environmental Students’ Association

The McGill Redmen name may be no more

McGill student vote part of a continental movement

The McGill Redmen name may be no more

McGill University students recently voted in favour of changing the name of their men’s varsity sports teams from the Redmen. Over 6,000 students voted 78.8 per cent in favour of a name change. Although the student-organized petition and referendum is non-binding, they are hoping it will get the attention of the school’s president.

The move by McGill is indicative of an awakening regarding sporting mascots and team names that are offensive and racist toward Indigenous people across Turtle Island. Over a month ago, I heard a sports broadcast bleep the name of the Washington Redskins. Several news outlets and websites have also chosen not to repeat the name, written or spoken, including Washington’s own mayor. Chief Wahoo, the mascot of Cleveland’s MLB team, has officially been retired and will not appear on any insignia starting in 2019.

The bottom line is that mascots and insignia create caricatures of Indigenous people. They breed an insensitive culture that condones offensive practices, such as wearing feather headdresses and red face paint at games. Making a costume out of sacred tradition is appropriative. It co-opts and exploits Indigenous culture for our pleasure and entertainment.

Yes, there is heated debate. But not every case is the same; homage can be paid without being offensive. Take the Seattle Seahawks. Their logo is respectfully derived from totem poles indigenous to the Pacific Northwest and directly inspired by an Indigenous artifact. The artifact was presented in a Seattle museum alongside the Lombardi trophy. The presentation was attended by former Seahawks and members from the local Indigenous community.

You may not know it, but the name and insignia of the Golden State Warriors was originally based on Indigenous people. Early logos depicted a caricature dribbling a basketball, and later, a feathered headdress. The team evolved their logo to what it is today, and the term warrior adapted a different connotation.

Intention matters. So does history, as well as the combination of name and imagery. The Chicago Blackhawks are named after a WWI-era US Army division called the “Black Hawks,” which did take its name from a chief. Unfortunately, their logo looks strikingly similar to that of the Redskins. The Atlanta Braves retired mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa a long time ago, but they have yet to change their name or logo, and the “Tomahawk chop” done by fans doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

If you’re a fan of a sports team with a racist name or logo, educate yourself and think critically about your support.

Why the Raptors deserve to play on Christmas

The NBA annually snubs Toronto on Christmas Day

Why the Raptors deserve to play on Christmas

For your common NBA basketball fan, enjoying a lineup of spectacular basketball is a beloved Christmas Day tradition.

Christmas basketball games regularly showcase the best teams in the league, highlighting the association’s biggest superstars and some key rivalries. Although the Toronto Raptors have made the playoffs for five straight seasons, made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016, and further raised their profile by acquiring a bona fide superstar in Kawhi Leonard, they will still be getting coal for Christmas this year.

The NBA’s decision to overlook the Raptors yet again is particularly frustrating given the stellar performance of Toronto’s team — currently on top of the Eastern Conference — and the actual lineup of contenders for December 25. The New York Knicks, currently sitting near the bottom of the East, will be playing for the umpteenth time on Christmas, almost exclusively due to tradition.

Another convention is to schedule a rematch of the finals from the same year. As with the last three years, that would mean a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. But of course, LeBron James doesn’t play in Cleveland anymore, which is why this year’s Christmas Day lineup will feature a game between Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The only franchises remaining without a Chritmas Day game are the Charlotte Hornets and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Raptors were gifted with one game, way back in 2001.

Not to be forgotten, Christmas is a very personal and special day for a lot of players, coaches, and their families. Players acknowledge that December 25 games are a sacrifice, but also an honour and a privilege. Consider LeBron; after this year, he will have played in 13 Christmas Day games in his 16-year career. Kyle Lowry, on the other hand, never has.

On the topic, Lowry told the media, “I’ve always in my life wanted to play a Christmas game… It’s never happened, but I’ve always had the opportunity to always be with my family on Christmas. It’s a blessing to be able to not play, but at the same you always want that one time you play on Christmas… You get the special shoes. The Christmas jerseys. That’s one I want to frame one day. Hopefully, I get the opportunity to do it.”

There are five games on Christmas; that means that 10 teams play. If the NBA reasons that out of 30 teams in the league, the Raptors don’t qualify as being in the top 10, then they’re the ones on the naughty list this year.

Hopefully, a new generation of Raptors fans will get to see their team play on Christmas one day.