Ayah Abdeldayem is a third-year PhD student at UTM studying chemistry who became interested in governance and policy through her work at UTM’s Association of Graduate Students. Abdeldayem hopes to bring issues facing graduate students at U of T’s satellite campuses to the forefront while also pushing for policies for all graduate students at the governance level. This would include efforts to increase access to mental health and professional development resources.
While she thinks the UTGSU has been moving “in the right direction” regarding transparency and representation, Abdeldayem wants to ensure that “all graduate student programs should have a representative at the union level and are able to voice their concerns.”
Aaliya Hakak is a first-year master’s student in Civil Engineering.
Hakak identified her advocacy priorities as affordable living accommodation and decreasing wait times for mental health support at U of T. As the liaison between the UTGSU and the university’s Governing Council, she would lobby the council to try and get more mental health resources on campus. “I’d be putting forward requests and appeals for more resources or for decreasing the waiting time,” said Hakak.
She wants the UTGSU to engage in more publicity about itself to try and get more students involved in union activities. She also wants to increase the representation of master’s students such as herself in the UTGSU. “Once [master’s students] have a representative, they have a point of contact.”
She also wants to diversify the representation of students from different programs in the UTGSU. “We need to take students from all departments, all areas.”
“If this communication is exercised properly, any goal could be achieved.”
Chaim Katz is a third-year PhD candidate at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering who believes that the UTGSU should spend more time discussing issues that students are concerned about, such as graduate funding and finding housing in downtown Toronto.
In his nine years at U of T, Katz said that he has gained enough connections with administration to succeed in the role, should he be elected.
“It takes being active and engaged and being willing to stand for what you believe in to really represent student interests,” explained Katz.
At the UTGSU Annual General Meeting, Katz moved a motion that opposed the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Committee, and wished to generalize the committee to support the movement based on “objective criteria.” Katz said that the intention of the motion was to make “all students feel welcome and wanted in the university,” however the motion was left unaddressed at the meeting.
Lwanga Musisi, a third-year PhD candidate at the Department of Social Justice Education, is running as an incumbent. One of Musisi’s main campaign goals is maintaining student union autonomy to “limit the influence of the university on student democracy.” In addition, Musisi hopes to create policies that provide greater funding for graduate students, increase the representation of minorities in policy making, and improve student access to mental health services.
As far as the UTGSU’s accomplishments this year, Musisi believes the union has done well on keeping the student body updated on core issues, such as health and dental plans, and “maintaining relevant caucuses that support diversity, equity and inclusion.”