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Trinity College Meeting changes equity commission chair position from appointed to elected by membership

Motions passed to create first-year committee, ratify statement on U of T’s COVID-19 response
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Trinity College Meeting held its second meeting of the year. JESSIE YANG/THE VARSITY
Trinity College Meeting held its second meeting of the year. JESSIE YANG/THE VARSITY

During the Trinity College Meeting’s (TCM) second meeting of the year, a constitutional amendment passed changing the position of equity committee (EQC) chair from an appointed position to being elected by the membership of Trinity College.

The TCM also created a first-year committee and ratified an open letter signed by other student unions that criticizes U of T’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Equity committee chair

The amendment to change the EQC chair to an elected position was proposed on the grounds that those who were already student government leaders held too much authority over the committee, were not from racialized communities, and had little interest in pushing committee members’ mandates or addressing serious issues for the college at large.

According to Mary Ngo, who resigned as TCM treasurer last month, and who put forth the amendment with Female Head of Non-Resident Affairs Cindy Lui, the EQC chair and secretary have historically been appointed by the EQC during its first annual meeting.

“I think, over the years, we have heard complaints from students. Unfortunately, because the heads are sitting on those committees sometimes, those complaints aren’t taken that seriously,” said Ngo. “I think, over the summer, we’ve heard a lot of stories from our [racialized communities] regarding that, so we thought… the best thing to do would be to remove heads and the TCM [executive], so we can be held accountable for certain things that go on in this college or for our own behaviours and actions.”

This new amendment will have the EQC chair voted on by members of the college as a whole, as part of Trinity’s spring election cycle. The amendment still bars student heads and TCM executives from taking on the role.

The amendment also maintains that the EQC must call at least four meetings each year and adds that the EQC chair can call both scheduled and unscheduled committee meetings — a responsibility which was previously within the purview of the head of arts.

To encourage more participation from members of college, the amendment also seeks to add four additional seats to the committee: two non-resident members-at-large, an international resident member-at-large, and an international resident member-at-large. It also requires two members of the previous year’s committee to serve on the committee.

Although the motion was passed, it still requires a two-thirds majority vote in two consecutive TCM meetings. The amendment will need to be passed again at the next TCM in order to be ratified in the college’s constitution.

First-year committee

The other item on the agenda was the creation of the First Year Committee (FYC). The FYC was proposed to make student governance more accessible for first-years, as well as to get diverse perspectives involved in governance at the college. The committee will be a permanent standing committee of TCM with the ability to plan events and initiatives, and it will be required to report to the general TCM at each meeting.

Members of the committee will be selected through an application process rather than an election in order to increase diverse representation. The committee will consist of four first-year heads, six non-resident first-year representatives, and four resident first-year representatives. There will also be two upper-year advisors to the committee who will also be selected by application.

The motion passed at the October meeting, but it will also have to pass at two consecutive meetings before being ratified in the constitution.