The Breakdown: UTSU’s 2019 Annual General Meeting

Member motions to address board attendance, equity collectives, climate crisis
The 2018 AGM lost quorum. ANDY TAKAGI/THE VARSITY
The 2018 AGM lost quorum. ANDY TAKAGI/THE VARSITY

The University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held on October 30 in Innis Town Hall at 6:00 pm. The meeting is open to all UTSU members, which includes full-time undergraduate students, professional faculty students, Toronto School of Theology students, Transition Year Program students, and students on a Professional Experience Year.

The AGM requires a quorum of 75 members, of which 50 members must be physically present, with the rest being present through a proxy. The meeting acts as a forum for members to ask questions and raise items for discussion. Last year’s AGM was marred by long and heated debates, and notably lost quorum during the meeting. This loss resulted in a vote on policy without quorum.

According to the AGM’s agenda, UTSU President Joshua Bowman will give his address, which will be followed by an executive question and answer period.

The meeting will also see a proposal to change the union’s bylaws and elections procedure. One change to the bylaws will remove all mentions of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union, as it separated from the UTSU at the 2018 AGM. There are also new outlines for abandonment of office for directors, which, for example, will occur if directors have two “unreasonable absences,” or other combinations of absences.

Member motions

On the agenda is a motion put forth by University College representative Lina Maragha to dissolve the UTSU’s equity collectives. The motion recommends this due to the perception that the equity collectives have not fulfilled their mandate since being introduced in 2017.

Instead, a “Equity Initiatives Fund” is proposed, which will provide funding to existing equity groups on campus. Three new community members will also be added to the Equity and Accessibility Committee under the new proposal.

Another motion proposes that the UTSU endorse all upcoming Fridays for Future climate strikes, as they did for the Global Climate Strike in Toronto last month.

Outstanding issues to address

Some outstanding issues that the AGM might address include the UTSU’s Student Commons project, which has put the union in financial jeopardy before, and been the target of numerous construction and planning delays.

The possibility of the UTSU leaving the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), which has been a major topic of discussion surrounding the UTSU for the past few years, could also come to a front. Debate over student funding for the CFS has emerged in the context of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) — a provincial mandate for universities that provides an opt-out option for “non-essential” incidental fees. The SCI has also created particular financial challenges for the union, as students can opt-out of certain UTSU fees deemed non-essential by the province.

The union has also been active in student advocacy, including a collaboration with city council on postsecondary transit fees, and pushing for the funding of increased mental health services.

The controversial university-mandated leave of absence policy has once again brought tensions to light between the union, Governing Council, and the university’s ombudsperson on the policy’s effects on student health — less than year-and-a-half after the policy’s approval.

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