During the University of Toronto Graduate Student Union’s (UTGSU) Annual General Meeting, held online on December 6, VP Internal Sarah Alam resigned from her role. 

Alam, who identifies as a brown Muslim woman, announced her resignation during her executive report. She alleged that certain members of the Board of Directors (BOD) and new staff members harassed her, which contributed to her resignation. 

Alam joined the UTSGU in November 2020. In her resignation letter, submitted to the President of the UTGSU on December 5, she wrote that she “joined [the] UTGSU with a lot of hope and aspirations.” 

However, Alam described her experience at the UTGSU as “humiliating and emotionally draining… I would not wish [it] on anyone.” In the letter, she specifically alleged that several BOD members and UTGSU staff “constantly reminded [me] that I am a racialized, marginalized body.” 

She expressed hope that, by speaking about her experiences, she could ensure that the incoming VP Internal or Executive Director would “not be subjected to the same conditions.” According to Alam, the UTGSU’s Executive Director position is currently vacant, and she has been fulfilling some of the role’s duties.  

The incidents Alam described in her resignation letter resemble allegations she raised at a January BOD meeting. During the same meeting, Adam Hill, a BOD representative for the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Division 2, put forward a motion for her impeachment that the UTGSU then struck down. Alam’s resignation letter mentions that Hill’s actions were part of what prompted her resignation. 

In an email to The Varsity, Hill wrote, “I have nothing against Sarah personally… All of my concerns have been raised in relation to fulfillment of the duties of her office.” Alam also mentioned UTGSU members Lynne Alexandrova and Chris Rodgers in her letter as part of a group that contributed to the harassment. 

In an email to The Varsity, Rodgers, a representative for Pharmaceutical Sciences, denied Alam’s allegations of discrimination and harassment. Alexandrova, a former UTGSU internal commissioner, wrote in an email to The Varsity that she considers her inclusion in the resignation “a slip of pen.”

The UTGSU has not yet provided comment. 

With files from Emma Livingstone.