At the final board meeting of the year on April 30, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) board of directors appointed Catherine Lai to the vacant position of vice-president public & university affairs (VP PUA).
Lai, who is entering her second year at the university as a peace, conflict, and justice studies, economics, and French studies student, was chosen out of five candidates for the position. Lai’s experience includes both external involvement, such as the Toronto Youth Cabinet’s Urban Health Working Group, as well as on-campus work, including serving as an executive on Wolfe House Council at University College.
Lai will begin the VP PUA term tomorrow, on May 1, alongside the five other executives who were elected in this year’s spring elections. All six incoming members of the team are women. At the board meeting, directors also voted to ratify the election results with no appeals.
Selection process following vacancy
The VP PUA position was previously unfilled during this year’s elections after the sole candidate dropped out in the middle of the campaign. The UTSU chose to appoint a VP PUA instead of having a by-election. An appointment for a vacant position also occurred last year, when Paul Kaita was appointed as vice-president professional faculties.
To choose the candidate, an appointment committee worked on shortlisting and interviewing candidates. The interview sub-committee included UTSU President-elect Alexa Ballis and Vice-President Operations-elect Fiona Reuter.
UTSU President Muntaka Ahmed wrote to The Varsity that the UTSU’s decision was informed by Lai’s “clear dedication towards campus issues such as mental health and equity,” alongside “relevant municipal and provincial government experience and knowledge of external organizations such as the [Canadian Federation of Students] and [Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities].”