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UTMSU September board meeting discusses new bursaries, programs available

Union discusses recently launched Whisk Program, textbook exchange
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The UTMSU office. DOMINICK HAN/THE VARSITY
The UTMSU office. DOMINICK HAN/THE VARSITY

The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) held its first Board of Directors meeting of the academic year on September 24. Executives went over what they had been working on over the past month, as well as a number of new programs, including the Whisk Program, new bursaries, and a new free breakfast program. 

The UTMSU will also be holding its fall by-election between September 27 and October 7, and students will be able to vote from October 57. 

Initiatives around campus 

Vice-President Campus Life Tarwah Afra provided the board with a recap of UTM’s fall orientation, which was held in a hybrid format and reached over 1,000 first-year students. Afra noted the success of the UTMSU’s SaugaFest event, which gave campus groups the chance to build in-person connections with students walking around campus. 

Moreover, Ryan Tomlinson, the UTMSU’s vice-president equity, provided an update on the first event of UTM’s Queer Orientation. According to Tomlinson, the event was well attended and more such events are being planned. 

Vice-President External Maëlis Barre spoke about the Whisk Program in their report. The Whisk Program is designed to help refugee students book COVID-19 vaccine appointments, help them receive a Social Identification Number, and provide them with other logistical supports.

Furthermore, Barre discussed the recent federal election. They said that the union had helped students with voting, as it knew that the process was complicated, and stressed that it was important to encourage students to vote. 

New bursaries and programs 

During his report, Tomlinson went over the various fall 2021 bursaries and grants that the UTMSU has lined up. This includes a needs-based bursary, an international students bursary, and a childcare bursary, all of which have applications due on October 15. 

“We are also implementing the racialized community involvement grant,” Tomlinson said. “[It’s] going to be coming out very soon, [so the] folks who do amazing work in racialized communities… also get rewarded for the work they do.”

Furthermore, the union discussed a range of new services, including the International Students Round Table; the launch of UTMSU Health and Wellness; and the Mental Health Peer Support program

The UTMSU Health and Wellness program will provide students with virtual programming for physical and mental health, and it will rent out “duffel bag goodies” so students can work out without having to head to the gym. The peer support program will allow students to book appointments with peer support workers.

President Mitra Yakubi also re-introduced Free Breakfast Wednesdays, which will now serve 100 students — as opposed to the pre-pandemic level of 400 students — so as to not overfill the presentation room. Through the program, students can get free breakfast on Wednesdays every two weeks. Yakubi added that there’s now an extra need to sanitize the space and install plexi glass and hand sanitizer dispensers. 

Textbook exchange program

The union also recently announced the launching of a textbook exchange program. The service allows students to exchange their old textbooks for new ones from other students.

Students can also drop off their textbooks in person as long as they fill out a form beforehand to let staff know they’re coming in. Moreover, the union accepts textbooks that aren’t currently being used.