Spencer Robertson is a third-year Urban Studies student and one of four candidates running for Vice-President Student Life.
Robertson is running for VP Student Life because he “[knows] what it’s like… to start a club from the ground up” from his experience as president of the University of Toronto Tabletop Gaming Club.
He ran unsuccessfully last month for Vice-President External Affairs and last year for Vice-President Campus Life, which is now VP Student Life.
He is also a community member of the UTSU’s Clubs Committee, which allocates funding from the union to student clubs. This experience has informed him of the substantial risks of the Student Choice Initiative to campus life and has helped him develop plans to optimize clubs funding following likely cuts to the union’s finances.
The Student Choice Initiative is the provincial government’s mandate for an opt-out option for certain student fees starting September.
“As much as the [VP] Student Life position is part-time, I don’t think it’ll be a part-time position next year,” said Robertson. He believes that, as a result of reduced clubs funding, clubs representatives would increasingly wish to meet with UTSU representatives to discuss the changes.
While he wishes to give clubs the maximum amount of funding the union can afford, he said it will be unlikely that current funding levels can be maintained. His overarching goal is to ensure that the union is “functional and accommodating to students and student clubs, while also being financially stable and sound.”
To respond to the cuts, he plans for the UTSU to focus on financially supporting smaller clubs on campus, which do not have revenue streams available to larger organizations. He also wishes to meet with larger clubs to discuss the reasoning behind their potential cuts.
Robertson plans to assist clubs in securing alternative streams of revenue. For example, Robertson said that he could work to write rough drafts of contracts to help clubs seek funding from external organizations.
On orientation, Robertson wishes to increase accessibility to commuter students, possibly by creating a place to stay overnight in the Student Commons, following its expected opening in June. He also plans to reach out through the U of T subreddit to receive feedback from students to better plan events.
Robertson further hopes that the Student Commons can expand storage and office space for clubs on campus, though he notes that the building’s functions would ultimately result from discussions between the executives.