The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) elections are beginning today, a year after One UTM, an uncontested slate of executive candidates led by then Vice-President Campus Life Felipe Nagata, swept the positions.
Vice-President External Atif Abdullah is running for president and heading the Students United slate. Independents are also running for executive spots, however The Varsity was unable to verify any of them, except for Luke Victor Warren, who is running for Vice-President Internal.
The campaign will run until March 21 at 6:00 pm. Voting will take place in person from March 19–21.
Several key issues will dominate the campaign, including the Ford government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI). The SCI, which was announced by Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton on January 17, gives students the choice to opt out of certain, non-essential incidental fees.
The UTMSU has publicly criticized the announcement as a “travesty for accessible education, student organizing and autonomy,” adding that the union “will not stand for this and will continue to fight for you to ensure that this government’s unilateral decision-making does not go unchecked.”
Another key issue is the newly-ratified separation of the UTMSU from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). The two groups have worked closely with each other since they entered into an Associate Membership Agreement in 2008, but discussions started roughly a year ago to formally split.
Representatives of both unions have endorsed the separation. At the UTMSU’s Annual General Meeting on November 29, Abdullah said that the UTMSU “understands the needs and the wants of the students at UTM better than a student union that is situated downtown.”
Tyler Biswurm, Vice-President Operations of the UTSU, read a statement from UTSU President Anne Boucher that echoed the sentiment. “It is in the best interests of UTM students to be fully represented by a students’ union that is on-site and is therefore in a better place to understand the needs of the students on the Mississauga campus,” read Biswurm.
A main concern of the ratification will be how the UTMSU will take over administration for a health and dental plan, which was previously under the UTSU’s purview.
Another key issue for UTM students involves the lack of space on campus, which was highlighted this year after the campus over-enrolled students, causing a strain on resources.
Recently, UTM Principal and U of T Vice-President Ulrich Krull suggested that the campus may continue over-enrolling international students to offset the potential loss of funding that will come from the provincial government’s plan to cut domestic tuition by 10 per cent.