Jake Barton is a second-year student double majoring in international relations and public policy and minoring in history. He is an executive for U of T New Democratic Party (NDP) Club and has helped facilitate a partnership between U of T NDP and Students Mobilizing Against Systemic Hardship (SMASH) Coalition. He is also active with Climate Justice U of T and has worked with elected officials in the Spadina—Fort York riding. In an interview with The Varsity, Barton said that these experiences “taught [him] how to be a leader in a community, how to represent a community, and advocate for their interests.”
The three main focuses of Barton’s campaign are student well-being, tuition affordability, and the environment. He hopes to increase the quality of meal plans on campus, make it safer, and improve its wi-fi. Barton also wants to expand the UTSU’s health and dental plan.
In terms of climate activism, Barton committed to “focus on getting RBC off campus,” because it is the largest fossil fuel funder in Canada. He also wants to advocate for better climate policy from the university, specifically from the federated colleges — University of Trinity College, University of St. Michael’s College, and Victoria University. Finally, Barton hopes to increase the UTSU’s transparency and facilitate dialogue between the union and students.
Jerico Raguindin is a fourth-year student double majoring in public policy and sociology and minoring in material culture and semiotics.
After taking a year away from student politics, Raguindin said that his investment in the issues that animated him during his term as president of the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) motivated him to run for UTSU president. “I realized a month or two ago that I still have a lot to contribute and that I do want to be able to lead but also support people in doing that work,” he said, in an interview with The Varsity.
Raguindin’s platform includes focusing on mental health, affordability, climate and disability justice, and holding the university accountable for their internal policies. He also wants to strengthen existing lines of communication between the UTSU and students.
Over the past year, Raguindin served as co-manager at the Cat’s Eye, a student lounge at Victoria College. He said that this experience allowed him to connect with students in their daily lives, and hopes to bring this “boots on the ground” approach to the position of president.
Raguindin added that he wants to bring the UTSU into classes and set up tabling at student centres across campus.“We have to localize the UTSU as a union,” he said.
Elizabeth Shechtman is a second-year student in economics and bioethics.
Currently, Shechtman serves as the UTSU’s vice-president student life. She said in an interview with The Varsity that this experience allowed her to understand how the UTSU works and what students need. Shechtman has experience with three internal UTSU committees: finance, clubs, and elections and referenda. She also sits on the Board of Directors of CIUT-FM — U of T’s campus and community radio — and is a member of the Student Initiative Fund Committee and the Student Life Advisory Council.
Shechtman said her campaign focuses on growing the student aid program as well as expanding the mental health resources provided by the UTSU. She is particularly interested in growing the current student health insurance program.
She also wants to expand the Student Commons. “I want to make that a community for all students,” Shechtman explained. She aims to continue the UTSU’s current projects of adding a café and a mutual aid textbook library to the Commons. Shechtman wants to ensure that the Commons serves as a valuable resource for all students.
Shechtman said that she sees a lot of room for improvement at the UTSU. Specifically, she hopes to work with stakeholders, help fellow UTSU executives, and increase revenue for the UTSU. She explained, “If we have more funding, we’re able to provide students with more.”
Disclosure: Elizabeth Shechtman was an associate news editor for The Varsity in the 2021–2022 school year.