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UTMSU updates Board of Directors on fall initiatives at October meeting

Chief returning officer report summarizes first-year representative elections
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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 October board meeting on October 29, going over developments for initiatives such as the UPass Survey, the International Round Table, and the union’s job readiness support program. 

The union’s chief returning officer (CRO) also delivered a report on the recent first-year representative elections, and the board elected members to various committees. 

Executive reports

The UTMSU executives updated the board on several ongoing and past initiatives that the union has spearheaded in the fall semester.

Vice-President Internal Wei Lai announced that the UPass Survey, which asked students to share their experiences with Mississauga transit, has been closed, and the results have been sent to Mississauga’s municipal transit system in the form of recommendations that can be implemented to improve transit for students. 

Wei added that, after going through a multi-day interview process, the union has hired two volunteer coordinators. She also reported that UTMSU’s International Round Table, an initiative where the UTMSU is trying to address the issues of international students, has had two successful meetings. 

Recently, the UTMSU has kickstarted its job readiness support program with résumé, cover letter, and mock interview workshops. Merica Joy Carlos, the UTMSU’s vice-president university affairs, updated the board on the program. She mentioned that the UTMSU has started offering students free professional headshots on Thursdays at UTM’s Student Centre and that the union will be running a LinkedIn workshop soon.

Carlos wrapped up her report by speaking about the union’s academic accommodation policy. She explained that it’s being created “to really help students… [safely] return back to campus next semester, creating general guidelines that hopefully the university will implement for next year.”

President Mitra Yakubi’s report included the results of the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy Phone Zap event, the UTMSU’s first health and wellness session, and an explanation of how the UTMSU is handling the return to in-person classes in the winter semester. 

The UTMSU will be holding its Culture week from November 8–12, a Mental Health Awareness week from November 24–26, and it will hold its annual general meeting on November 23. 

Report from fall election

Athisaya Satgururajah presented the CRO’s report for this year’s fall elections. Nominations opened on September 20, and while eight nomination packages were requested by potential division one candidates, which is for director at-large positions, only four were completed and submitted by the deadline. 

“These four candidates were successful in passing the nomination verification process and were approved to campaign,” Satgururajah said. The UTMSU did not receive any nomination packages for divisions three and four, which refer to the divisions for part-time director at-large and professional faculty positions, respectively. Consequently, these positions remain vacant. 

Although the union held a hybrid election, running five in-person polling stations in addition to online voting, the number of votes was significantly lower than in previous years due to COVID-19. These elections were also only open to first-year students, who are typically less engaged in student politics. 

Despite some difficulties finding and delivering chairs to polling stations, all the polling stations opened on time, and virtual polling stations were held over Zoom. Due to changes in campus security policies and guidelines, ballot boxes were kept in the UTMSU’s storage room rather than with Campus Safety where they have traditionally been stored. However, Satgururajah assured meeting attendees that the room in which ballot boxes were stored is only accessible to a select few individuals and that the boxes were protected with multiple locks to prevent ballot tampering. 

There were no election violations and no invalid votes reported from in-person voting. Poll clerks confirmed that all students were first-year students by checking their TCards. Irene He and Glenda Fu won the election for first-year representatives, with 39 and 25 votes respectively.

While a majority of the UTMSU’s committee positions were filled at the meeting by way of nomination and needing no election process as a result, there are still vacant positions in the Organizational Development and Services committee and the Elections and Referenda committee.