There are no students running for the position of president in the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) spring 2022 elections, now that the campaigning period has begun.

This comes after the UTSU extended its nomination period by one week, to March 11 at 5:00 pm. When the deadline was extended, the UTSU’s Chief Returning Officer (CRO) Cole Currie explained that the decision was made to give all students the opportunity to run. 

Participation concerns

Participation in UTSU elections has been down over the last few years, with four out of six executive positions uncontested in last year’s election. The vice-president, public and university affairs position also remained vacant for the duration of last year’s election after the sole candidate dropped out. 

This year, three out of the five executive positions for which there are candidates are contested. Furthermore, there are six candidates running for vice-president equity. 

In an email to The Varsity, Currie noted that “the UTSU has taken a few measures to ensure members are aware of and empowered to participate in elections.” He added that while no candidates obtained enough signatures to run for president, there are still a number of “highly contested races that should spark conversation and healthy dialogue.” 

However, Faye Varanesi, a third-year astronomy and physics major, wanted to run for the president position, but she was unable to do so because she could not garner enough signatures. 

Currently, the UTSU nomination package says that people interested in running for an executive position must get 50 supporting signatures. In an interview with The Varsity, Varanesi noted that interested students were not allowed to post nomination form links to their social media because that would be considered campaigning. Instead, they had to directly reach out to students and ask for signatures.

After finding out that no candidates received enough signatures, Varanesi reached out to the CRO to ask if an exception to the policies could be made for this election cycle, which would allow students who were interested but could not gather enough signatures to run.

She was told that was impossible and that she should wait to hear more about the byelections. She added that students might think that no one cares about the UTSU due to the fact that no one is running, even though that’s not the case.

Campaign information

The online campaigning period is currently in process, with the end date scheduled as March 27.

The UTSU will be hosting a debate at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, March 22. The voting period will then begin on Wednesday, March 23 and will end the same day as the campaigning period on Sunday, March 27. According to the union’s election procedures, voting will take place entirely online. The election results will be announced on March 29.

The Varsity has reached out to the UTSU for comment.

Disclosure: Currie served as The Varsitys deputy news editor in 2017–2018.