The UTMSU held its August Board Of Directors (BOD) meeting on August 26. At the meeting, board members approved a 10 per cent increase to the union’s World University Service of Canada (WUSC) levy. 

The board members also received updates on the UTMSU’s service hours as well as updates from the executive team on the union’s ongoing projects. 

WUSC levy

The UTM WUSC levy goes to the WUSC’s Student Refugee Program, which sponsors one refugee annually to come to Canada and study at UTM as a permanent resident.

Suraqa Noor, vice-president university affairs, explained that the allowance is to primarily help refugee students throughout their transitioning and continue into their day-to-day life. 

This has been the first increase to the allowance since 2016. 

Noor broke down how the allowance would be spent, explaining that chosen first-year refugee students would be presented with $300 bi-weekly. 

In upper years, students who are already in the program are given a total sum instead of a bi-weekly payment. Second year students will receive $8,300, increased from $7,500; third year students will receive $6,000 instead of $5,500; and the fourth year students’ total has increased to $2,800 from $2,500. 

Noor added that UTM doesn’t currently have a student in third year enrolled in this program, so the money will not be allocated to anyone for the 2022–2023 academic year. 

UTMSU service hours

Felipe Nagata, executive director, explained that, despite being fully in-person in the fall semester, some of the UTMSU’s services and businesses will not return to their pre-pandemic hours until October. 

Since many of the employees of the Blind Duck — the UTMSU’s restaurant — were hired recently and only a few staff members from previous years remain, the UTMSU has decided to have the Blind Duck continue to operate with the reduced summer hours. Nagata said that this would give their new employees the necessary experience to operate at full capacity, as well as some time to adjust. 

The new Blind Duck hours will be from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. The new Student Centre hours — which include the printing services, info booth, Duck Stop Convenience, and the UTMSU office — will be from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekdays. 

Executive reports

Reagan Roopnarine, vice-president equity, was not present, so President Maëlis Barre presented a report on Roopnarine’s behalf. 

Roopnarine has been preparing the student centre for the fall return, as well as planning a summer exam de-stressor for all the students with summer exams. She has also been working on expanding summer bursaries for students. 

In her report, Noor explained that the UTMSU has recently begun a new campaign focusing on extending the credit/no credit policy. The union has released a survey to gather student feedback on the policy. Based on the received feedback, the union will formulate its next steps.  

Alistair Kirk, vice-president external, discussed the union’s recent affordable housing advocacy.  

The union hosted a town hall on August 23 to facilitate a discussion between students and inform them of tenants’ rights.  

Fatima Yakubi, vice-president student life, explained that plans for a Welcome Back Week have been finalized and that the UTMSU will start promoting the event soon.