Alexa Ballis, a fifth-year student studying English, political science, and history, is running uncontested for president of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). Ballis has been involved in the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) for the past three years, and she served as VUSAC president last year.
“I’ve noticed, especially during COVID-19, that students are struggling,” said Ballis in an interview with The Varsity. If elected, she plans to lobby the university for earlier exam schedules, support students in their transition back into in-person learning, and lobby for lower tuition fees.
On external affairs, she wants to increase the COVID-19 and mental health resources available on the UTSU’s website, as well as create guides for paths students may want to follow after graduation.
On the environment and sustainability, Ballis wants to continue to push the university to divest from fossil fuels, and introduce a “sustainability project sponsor” so that students can propose projects for how to make the campus more sustainable.
To encourage student participation in the UTSU, Ballis wants to implement monthly town halls where all students will be invited to share their thoughts on the UTSU’s work. She also wants to increase voter turnout by sharing successes that student unions have had to show that student unions can enact change.
For new students, Ballis wants to create a “University of Toronto dictionary” that would include all of the unique acronyms used at U of T.
“I do think that the UTSU this year has done a lot of great internal organizational work,” she said. “But I think now, [it should take] that and [create] more initiatives [so] that students can actually… feel like the UTSU is there to support them and advocate for changes that will make their experiences better.”
The voting period for UTSU elections will run from March 17-21.