Julie Marocha, Finance Commissioner candidate. SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

Julie Marocha is a fifth-year Molecular Genetics PhD student running for Finance Commissioner.

She is the President of the Toastmasters International Toronto Engineering Club of Speakers and previously served as the club’s Vice-President Membership and Events and Budget Coordinator. Marocha has been a U of T student for more than eight years.

Marocha is running because she wants “to bring positive change to the lives of students.”

Her priorities include maintaining and possibly increasing financial resources for students, such as scholarships. As Finance Commissioner, she plans to fund this by developing “ties with alumni” for donations and sponsorships, and by asking them to support specific causes such as mental health services.

Faced with possible budget cuts stemming from the provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI), she hopes to avoid compromising services and benefits received by UTGSU members, including scholarships and conference bursaries. She also plans to prioritize funding for UTGSU committees, as well as the UTGSU itself.

Should severe cuts occur, she plans to reduce unnecessary spending, such as expenses for food and drinks for executives. She would then approach the union’s finances based on “percentages, rather than absolute numbers.” For example, said Marocha, if 10 per cent of graduate students receive grants or scholarships from the UTGSU, but a certain number of students opt out of the levy, she may make budget plans in such a way that the same percentage of remaining UTGSU members still receive funding.

She also intends to launch a university-wide survey to better determine budgeting priorities. As a last resort, said Marocha, she would consider increasing the levy.

Marocha also has plans to collect university-wide data on the financial circumstances of graduate students should she be elected. The survey would advocate for “affordable education under the Ford cuts,” and Marocha hopes to spread awareness about the “foreseeable impacts on cuts to OSAP and education funding.”

She plans to ensure that the surveys have high response rates by running social media campaigns, asking graduate student associations of each department to contact their constituents, and possibly adding incentives such as prizes, if funding is available. She also believes that the relevance of the government cuts “to many, if not all of us” will also help garner high response rates.

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