The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) had its first Board of Directors meeting of the academic year on May 26, during which members voted in favour of a motion to increase health fees by four per cent and dental fees by 10 per cent for the SCSU Extended Health and Dental Insurance Plan. The increase will raise the amount of funding for mental health services for UTSC students, according to SCSU President Sarah Abdillahi.
The board further voted to endorse Fridays for Future (FFF) — a global climate strike movement — and to establish an Uyghur solidarity week.
It was also proposed that the SCSU condemn the Canary Mission and demand that the group be designated as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government, though the motion was deferred to the Executive Committee.
Fee changes to health and dental plan
The SCSU Extended Health and Dental Insurance Plan is funded by student levy fees which are paid to the SCSU.
Due to the four per cent increase to the budget for the health portion of the plan, students’ prior payment of $82.31 per semester will rise to $85.60 per semester. In the meeting, Abdillahi said this increase comes after numerous meetings with the Canadian Federation of Students and the SCSU’s healthcare provider Green Shield to negotiate “better mental health services for UTSC students.”
Abdillahi added that the overall amount allocated for mental health services will increase from $800 to $2,000 per person.
As for the dental portion, its cost will increase by 10 per cent, from $104.03 per semester to $114.43 per semester. According to Abdillahi, this change is a result of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario’s decision to increase baseline dental service prices in Ontario on the basis of the consumer price index and “other service-related costs.”
The total change in the fees for the Extended Health and Dental Insurance Plan will amount to a 7.35 per cent increase, from $186.34 per semester to $200.03 per semester.
Motion to condemn Canary Mission
Director of Physical and Environmental Sciences Max Fine brought forward a motion for the SCSU to condemn the Canary Mission and demand that it be labelled as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government. The Canary Mission is an organization aimed at documenting antisemitism, with an approach that involves compiling lists of Palestinian rights advocates and labelling them as racist, antisemitic, and terrorism sympathizers.
Fine claimed that U of T students have been doxxed by the website and argued that the SCSU should take action against it.
Abdillahi successfully motioned to refer the motion to the SCSU Executive Committee, on the grounds that the Board of Directors does not have enough information on the organization to condemn it. The Executive Committee will review the motion and the Board of Directors may vote on it in a future meeting.
Moreover, members voted for a ‘Palestinian Justice Week’ to be organized in either summer or fall 2021. To highlight Palestinian voices throughout the week, the SCSU will contact various Palestinian organizations, such as Palestine House–Toronto, Toronto BDS Network, and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.
New advocacy campaigns
Fine said that while various solidarity weeks are organized by the SCSU throughout the year, it has yet to coordinate one for the Uyghur genocide. As of now, the event is planned for fall 2021.
On climate, Fine proposed that the SCSU officially endorse FFF and hold a social media campaign where the SCSU would post on its social media about the climate crisis every Friday.
Fine also proposed initiating a campaign to write letters to the municipal and federal government demanding the prohibition of non-renewable hydrocarbon fuels by 2030. “Letter writing campaigns are [the] most effective form of lobbying to get this done,” he said.
Fine further proposed that the SCSU organize a strike for Earth Day on April 22 of next year to support the letter writing campaign.