Bryan Liceralde, a fourth-year political science student, is back to run for president of the UTSU. Liceralde — who lost the union’s presidential election last year with 24 per cent of the vote — cited students’ experience of grade deflation and a desire to challenge the provincial government’s postsecondary cuts as his motivations to run this year.
Liceralde wrote to The Varsity that he distinguishes himself as a potential “commuter president from Brampton,” and intends to have “more conversations about pop culture as much as about UTSU policy” at the union. “I’ll also be posting about my mundane rants on music, like why Billie Eillish and the Weekend [sic] are so overrated.”
While Liceralde acknowledges that he lacks student union experience, he emphasizes his activeness at UTSU general meetings this year. He wants to stop holding of Board of Director and All-Candidates Meetings on Sunday, out of respect for students’ faith. If an alternative schedule cannot be decided, he clarified, “then there is always Instagram Live.”
Liceralde also supports the creation of an elective course on student politics, an academic referendum on breadth requirements, and credit/no credit options for two full credits of mandatory program courses.
On finance, he intends to spend $7,500 on a scholarship program for the tuition of a student “who’s made a huge impact on student life.” He also vows to advocate for university-subsidized residence plans, according to income brackets: “If a student’s family makes less than $90k CAD, then they will pay nothing for residence.”
Liceralde also promises to overturn the newly merged position of Vice-President Public and University Affairs and the UTSU’s Got You Services, citing the unhealthiness of the late night time commitment required by staff.
Liceralde argues that the UTSU “should maintain a neutral position” on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and he would refuse to fund groups that promote “violence against civilians from either Israel or Palestine.”
Muntaka Ahmed is a third-year student double majoring in immunology and health and disease running for president of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). She is currently the executive assistant, clubs of the UTSU; the vice-president finance of the Muslim Students’ Association; and the marketing co-director of the Bangladeshi Students’ Association.
Ahmed wrote to The Varsity that she is running “from a place of wanting to provide meaningful representation” as a visible “Muslim/hijabi woman of colour.” Noting that it can be difficult for students who come from more complex intersections than herself, Ahmed hopes that by running she “provides a step in the right direction” for students who have yet to see themselves represented within leadership positions.
If elected, Ahmed would like to implement more engaging UTSU programing beyond Orientation Week, Frost Week, and the Unity Ball. In addition, Ahmed believes that the UTSU needs to improve its consultations with student groups rather than expecting student groups to come to it, emphasizing the need for “a shift from an inherent hierarchical mindset to a more lateral and student-facing one… the UTSU is a team of 38,000 and it’s time we started acting like one.”
Arjun Kaul is a fifth-year student studying neuroscience, cell and molecular biology, and English, and he is running for president of the UTSU. Currently, Kaul is the vice-president operations of the UTSU.
Reflecting on his past year with the UTSU, Kaul wrote “I think we’ve prioritized the student experience really well.” He plans to continue to expand the UTSU’s services, such as its food bank, tax clinic, and student aid program, if elected.
However, he would have liked to see more decisive action from the UTSU regarding mental health, which Kaul identified as his priority for the coming year. He believes that the UTSU should work to “provide students with a comfortable space to study, exist, and live, both on and off campus.”
Kaul wants to make the UTSU itself more accessible by encouraging students to come to board meetings and allowing them to submit questions to board meetings ahead of time, as well as not using board reports as the only measure of progress. He hopes to streamline the UTSU’s move into the Student Commons and create a peer support program run out of the building.