The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) held its first Board of Directors meeting of the term on January 25. President Sarah Abdillahi shared updates on the union’s efforts to advocate for a safe winter semester. Members also voted to increase some student fees in accordance with inflation estimates. 

Adjustment to student society fees

As per SCSU bylaws, the union must change student society fees to reflect changes in the consumer price index, which represents changes to prices that Canadian consumers experience due to inflation. This year, the union increased all student society and Student Centre fees for full-time and part-time students by 5.2 per cent. The union also announced that the fee for the Canadian Federation of Students would be increasing by 4.8 per cent. 

The members also voted to continue to charge fees for the World University Service of Canada program, which connects students with businesses and governments to collaborate on youth-centric solutions to global issues. The program’s fees for full-time and part-time students remain the same at $0.75 and $0.25, respectively, as these are fixed fees that the union must agree to pay in order for the program to continue.

Update for the winter term

Abdillahi updated the board on the SCSU’s efforts to address student concerns about returning to campus. In a January meeting, the union discussed the SCSU and University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union’s  email campaign with UTSC administration. The campaign called on students to express their concerns about returning to campus by sending emails to U of T administrators and members of provincial parliament. 

According to Abdillahi, the university explained that the mental health of students, faculty, and staff remains one of its top priorities, saying that many students had expressed that they were tired of online school and wanted to return to in-person learning, so the university is prioritizing a return. 

“[The administration was] not really happy about the email petition,” Abdillahi said, before adding that the administration was also sympathetic to students’ perspectives. In December, the SCSU had brought up a number of petitions from across U of T’s three campuses calling for a hybrid winter semester to administrators. At its meeting with the SCSU, the administration assured the SCSU that the email campaign would be taken more seriously if it hit 9,000 emails. 

In an email to The Varsity, Abdillahi explained that the SCSU had received numerous messages in December from students concerned about having to “choose between their safety and their academics,” and the email campaign was a response to these concerns. 

“We created this email petition to help students, families, faculty, and staff who have been expressing their concerns about returning to in-person learning due to the lack of safety measures from our administration,” Abdillahi wrote. 

“Even if one student expresses a fear for their safety, our administration should be taking this seriously,” Abdillahi noted. She said that the university maintaining its plans for reopening despite such a large outcry was “extremely concerning.” 

Nevertheless, Abdillahi affirmed that this is “an ongoing conversation” between the SCSU and the university. “The disapproval expressed by the UTSC administration means that we need to continue and amplify our pressure to ensure that student concerns are at the center of decision-making,” she wrote. 

The union also voted to hold its Winter General Meeting on Thursday, March 29.