Opinion: Muntaka Ahmed’s equity-based platform lacks systemic change

Despite great experiences in student leadership, Ahmed doesn’t promise tangible progress

Opinion: Muntaka Ahmed’s equity-based platform lacks systemic change

Muntaka Ahmed has robust experience in positions of power. She has worked as an executive assistant in the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), vice-president finance for the Muslim Students’ Association, and a marketing co-director of the Bangladeshi Students’ Association. This strong resumé assures student voters that, if elected, she would bring experience and expertise to the position of UTSU president, for which she is currently running.

However, this confidence fades when you take into account systemic change. Ahmed has good points that would have been beneficial and electable — if our period of time was not so strongly defined by political unrest. Considering the fact that the last calendar year was dominated by protests — most notably student protests — a drastic change in various systems worldwide is a sentiment that does not elude the UTSU. 

However, I failed to see any considerable changes to the UTSU system within her platform. A glaring example is the lack of a clear political stance on sustainability initiatives on campus, as well as the fact that, while she did prioritize advocacy for better mental health services, she does not specify exactly how this is to be implemented.

Her ticket seems to centre itself on expanding the definition of the UTSU beyond a group of few executives with immense authority and into the hands of the people who it represents. However, her platform fails to do exactly that by not being transparent about how she will implement her goals.

I believe a racialized Muslim woman can create immense change in the role of president, but based on her platform, I’m not too confident about any notable differences to the UTSU’s operation and goals — something that voters like myself are looking for. 

Nadine Waiganjo is a second-year International Relations student at University College. She is an Associate Comment Editor.

Opinion: Arjun Kaul’s platform tackles a diversity of issues

The seasoned executive’s campaign promises to continue advocating for students

Opinion: Arjun Kaul’s platform tackles a diversity of issues

Arjun Kaul’s platform for University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) president promises to cater to everyone on campus. His focus prioritizes diversity and accessibility, as well as improving representation and outreach for underrepresented and marginalized campus communities. Furthermore, Kaul is a candidate who seeks to represent all student voices — not just those who fall under privileged groups. 

However, his platform suffers from a lack of depth due to its broadness, though the diversity of goals is nonetheless admirable.

Kaul is the union’s current vice-president operations and seeks to help students be involved in the decision-making process of the union. He wants to keep financial transparency and accountability so that students are fully informed on how their money is being used. When it comes to environmental justice, Kaul’s platform focuses on environmental sustainability and promises to reward campus clubs for sustainable operations. He also claimed that he will push for the divestment from the fossil fuel industry. 

He also seeks to advocate for mental health services in a compassionate and intersectional way. As he noted on his Facebook page, he wants to “help students cope with the problems that affect them directly.” This hands-on approach, as Kaul wrote, would involve addressing mental health through campus events, as well as through improved mental health services.

Facilitating peer support programs and improving alumni support is also a priority that Kaul highlighted in his platform.

Kaul wants to engage all students of our campus community, and that is his strength as a presidential candidate. While his platform is ambitious, Kaul’s clearly recognizes the shortcomings of the UTSU, and the gaps that must be filled moving forward. 

Hafsa Ahmed is a third-year Political Science student at UTM. She is an Associate Comment Editor.

Letter from the Editor: The Varsity’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Reliable news and social distance journalism

Letter from the Editor: <i>The Varsity</i>’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

When I first picked up the proverbial pen at the beginning of the year to write to you, our readers, I never would have guessed that the next time I would address you would be under such circumstances. A pandemic has made it so that our U of T community has been thrown into chaos, and many of us are dealing with stressors that we never could have imagined. During this time of great uncertainty, The Varsity will persevere in bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date news.

We have decided to cancel the print run of our last two issues of the year, but we will nonetheless continue posting PDF versions online for all to read. While we never thought that we would cancel issues because of a pandemic — we were placing our bets on the Student Choice Initiative instead — there is no reason to keep printing when our campuses are nearly deserted and, moreover, when we want to encourage them to stay that way.

However, we are continuing to produce our paper online for the purposes of documenting the times we live in.

In this issue, you’ll find print-exclusive roundups of all our COVID-19 coverage in news, as well as movie reviews to keep you company while social distancing, pieces on why you should even be social distancing, and how to be kind to yourself and practice compassion during this difficult period.

At this time, I want to give my thanks to our dozens of writers, editors, illustrators, designers, and more who have gone to great lengths to keep the U of T community informed. The Varsity is entirely student-run, which means that none of us are exempt from the confusion that all U of T students are experiencing right now.

Even though many of our masthead and contributors have had to hastily leave campus and scatter across the world, and many more are scrambling to complete assignments in the midst of upheaval, they have nonetheless managed to continue producing high-quality and valuable content because they care about keeping you informed.

I am forever in awe of the brilliant people who work at The Varsity and I want them to know that their contributions do not go unnoticed.

As such, please enjoy our last two issues of the year, made entirely by our editors while working from home. I hope you are taking care of yourselves and those around you at this time. We can all get through this together by doing our part not only for ourselves, but for our community.