Spencer Robertson is a third-year Urban Studies student running for Vice-President External Affairs. He is the founder and president of the University of Toronto Tabletop Gaming Club and ran unsuccessfully for Vice-President Campus Life of the UTSU last year.
While Robertson admitted that his experience is rooted in club matters and student life — he has sat on the UTSU’s Clubs Committee as a community member since June — he said that his “talent would actually be put to better use lobbying the government.”
His vision for the union centres on it serving its members, practicing financial discipline, and making a strong case for continued support in the face of the provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI).
“[The union has] to show to students that they’re worth not opting out of,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of work.”
As part of an effort to increase affordability for all students, Robertson said he will push for unique transit benefits for commuters, such as a U-Pass-style initiative, and work to increase access to affordable housing for students who live both on and off campus.
He is also committed to advocating for more regulations on deregulated and international student tuition fees, and he wants to lead the UTSU out of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) due to what he sees as issues with transparency and good governance.
Robertson called the relationship between the UTSU and the CFS a ‘Faustian contract,’ more commonly called a deal with the devil. “Having played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons for a number of years, I’m familiar with Faustian contracts,” he said. “It’s never a good idea. Autonomy is obviously a beneficial thing we should have.”
On the matter of the SCI, Robertson will focus on protecting union services as well as students’ access to adequate financial aid through the Ontario Student Assistance Program. While he noted that the 10 per cent domestic tuition cut is helpful, he believes it does little to address broader issues with the financial accessibility of postsecondary education.
“I think we’re in a situation now on the provincial and municipal levels where we need a lot of that advocacy to happen,” Robertson said. “And I feel that I would be the most capable candidate to do that.”