On February 7, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) held its regular Commission meeting, which is usually held twice every semester, in which 50 UTM students gathered to share their ideas about student life, services, and advocacy campaigns. They also provided the UTMSU with feedback on the Commission meetings.
During the Commission meeting, students split off into three working groups: the Student Life Commission, the Student Services Commission, and the Campaigns & Advocacy Commission.
At the Student Services Commission, one student suggested introducing student discounts at local grocery stores.
UTMSU President Maëlis Barre told students in the Campaigns & Advocacy Commission about the Consent is Mandatory campaign. In an interview with The Varsity, Barre said that the UTMSU has discussed ways to facilitate conversations with students about encouraging a culture of consent on campus.
Some of the demands from students included an implementation of an online portal for sensitive topics, which would facilitate anonymous discussions among students. As well, students hoped for a feedback portal for food criticism.
Barre told attendees that, in partnership with the Sexual Education Center and the Women’s Gender and Equity Center, the UTMSU aims to develop outreach materials and a hybrid self-defense class. A student also suggested that the UTMSU offer an anonymous feedback portal discussing consent so that students who feel uncomfortable discussing their concerns publicly.
The UTMSU’s Vice-President of Campus Life Fatima Yakubi facilitated the Student Life working group. Student suggestions from that working group included the addition of events like a women’s only pub night, a board game night, and a timed art contest.
Impact of commission meetings
At a Commission meeting 15 years ago, a student suggested that the UTMSU create a bus pass, which led to the creation of the MiWay U-Pass.
Anna Beatrice Porto, a Commission meeting attendee who transferred to UTM from McMaster, told The Varsity that she appreciated the UTMSU’s decision to host the Commission meeting. “They [UTMSU] actually care about students and what we have to say.”
One of her suggestions included a general fee decrease for students: “As students we always want to have more money in our pockets than giving [money] to the actual university.”
In an interview with The Varsity, Thammathorn Paweewan, a member of the UTMSU Board of Directors, expressed his satisfaction with the meeting, saying it had a “friendly atmosphere.”
Berry Lou — vice president internal at the UTMSU — explained that the UTMSU will continue its outreach. Lou highlighted a daily tabling initiative in the William G. Davis Building, where he hopes “to make more connections with our students.
Editor’s note (February 25): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the UTMSU hosts its Commission meeting annually. In fact, the UTMSU hosts Commission meetings approximately twice a semester.