SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

Joshua Bowman is a fourth-year Indigenous Studies and Political Science student running for President of the UTSU.

Bowman is the current UTSU Social Sciences Director. As president, he would seek to lower barriers for students to get involved with the UTSU.

Bowman believes that his experiences on the executive of the Indigenous Studies Students’ Union and the Arts & Science Students’ Union have qualified him for the position, saying that these roles have prepared him to be resilient and willing to shoulder a large workload to succeed.

He also cited his experience with Fight for $15 and Fairness, a group that advocates for a provincial $15 minimum wage. He said that being a low-income student working a minimum-wage job has helped with his work on the UTSU’s Student Aid Committee, which provides financial aid to students.

His overarching priority is “to give students something that they can believe in.”

He believes that it is the responsibility of the UTSU to ensure that students feel represented by the union. This involves the union doing the legwork to directly approach and build relationships with student societies, clubs, and equity-seeking organizations.

He also aims to encourage first-year involvement in the union by creating a first-year council. The council would research what first years are experiencing and report its findings to the Board of Directors.

Bowman said that the UTSU has been doing “extremely poorly” when it comes to deciding when “to stay silent on issues.”

He criticized the union’s decision to stay “comparatively silent” on the university-mandated leave of absence policy, which can force students to halt their studies if their mental health is deemed to place themselves or others in physical danger.

Bowman added that he would also hold executives accountable for submitting activity reports on time, which has been a problem this year.

To respond to the Ontario government’s changes to postsecondary funding, Bowman plans to expand the union’s role in advocating against these changes, hoping that the UTSU will “be there at the doorways of MPPs.” He also aims for the union to better help students understand how these cuts could affect them.

In response to possible cuts to the UTSU’s funding, Bowman said that he is not yet certain about which services the UTSU should deem essential or non-essential, but aims to consult with outgoing executives to better understand which to prioritize. However, he notes that he will not be “bound by the decisions of [his] predecessors.”

To disincentivize students from opting out of the UTSU’s levy, he said that the union needs to maintain the quality of its student services.

He aims to prioritize student financial aid and to limit the negative impacts of funding cuts to the union’s operations.

On the Student Commons, a proposed student centre whose opening has been continually delayed, Bowman said that the most critical issue is the lack of information available to students. He added that another major issue is planning how to make the building’s services accessible to students, as well as raising awareness about them.

Bowman would support a vote to leave the Canadian Federation of Students, an organization that represents student unions across the country. He noted that while some representatives are “well-intentioned,” Bowman believes that it is not in the UTSU’s best interest to stay in the federation as it is inadequately represented.

He would leave it to the Vice-President External Affairs’ discretion to decide on whether the union should hold a referendum to leave the organization.

On the relationship with the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union, Bowman prefaced by noting that he attended UTM in first year and commuted from Mississauga in second year. He believes that the two organizations need “to work together when it comes to advocacy especially.”

“We do have a lot of relationship-building to do.”

— With files from Blythe Hunter and Josie Kao

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