Muntaka Ahmed elected UTSU president in close race

UTSU health and dental referendum failed, student aid program Fund passed

Muntaka Ahmed elected UTSU president in close race

Muntaka Ahmed has been elected president of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) for the 2020–2021 academic year. The race for UTSU president was a tight one, with runner-up Bryan Liceralde losing by only 156 votes by the final round.

The third presidential candidate, Arjun Kaul, was eliminated in the first round with 745 votes. Ahmed was elected with 1717 votes.

Neeharika Hemrajani was elected VP Student Life, Alexandra McLean was elected VP Equity, Tyler Riches was elected VP Public and University Affairs, and Dermot O’Halloran was elected VP Operations. The latter two ran uncontested. 

The VP professional faculties position remains open as there were no candidates.

The referendum to increase the fee for the health and dental insurance plan by an additional ten per cent has failed. The vote saw 2135 students vote no and 2133 students vote yes, thereby not meeting the two thirds majority requirement for referenda to pass.

However, the referendum to establish a Student Aid Program Fund with a $1.00 fee per semester did pass with 68.8 per cent of students voting yes. The program will come into effect this fall semester. 

Ahmed’s presidential platform focused on equity and she hoped that by running she would provide a pathway for others who do not see themselves represented in leadership positions. 

In addition, Ahmed wishes to implement more engaging programming beyond Orientation, Frost Week, and Unity Ball and also improve upon the union’s consultation with student groups.

4818 students or 12.7 per cent of the electorate voted in this election. Academic and division directors were also elected in this voting period. Full results are available here.

U of T cancels spring convocation, in-person summer courses

Students will receive official degree parchments by mail

U of T cancels spring convocation, in-person summer courses

In light of concerns surrounding COVID-19, the University of Toronto has cancelled June convocation for students graduating after the spring 2020 semester, and summer courses will be delivered remotely. 

Convocation

June convocation, which was originally scheduled from June 2–19, has been cancelled due to concerns that convocation would violate COVID-19 social distancing directions from government officials. Toronto declared a state of emergency on March 23, and all of Ontario has banned gatherings of over 50 people.

Students who expected to convocate will still be able to graduate after the spring semester, and they will receive their degree parchment by mail.

So far, the university has not mentioned the possibility of postponing convocation. Likewise, students who wish to receive their diploma after the spring semester cannot attend a future convocation.

Deferring graduation is an option only available in certain programs, and it means that a student will not receive an official degree parchment until they graduate. 

U of T noted that it is “exploring possible alternative means of celebrating your graduation.” 

Summer courses

Both semesters of summer courses in the Faculty of Arts & Science will be delivered remotely, as of now. The university may add in-person courses for the second summer semester, from July until August, which will be decided at a later date. 

The university is still exploring options for courses that require hands-on learning, such as those involving labs or experiential requirements. 

In an email to students, Dean of Arts & Science Melanie Woodin wrote that instructors will have ample time to prepare for the transition to online learning, and that they will be given support by the university. “We are confident our instructors will continue to provide you with thoughtful and substantial learning experiences,” wrote Woodin.