Kristina Cổ is a second-year student majoring in criminology and sociolegal studies and minoring in philosophy and critical studies in equity and solidarity. In an interview with The Varsity, Cổ said that she wants to empower “students whose voices are oftentimes unheard.” She explained, “The focuses of my campaign are empowerment, transparency, and communication.” She believes that the vice-president, equity of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) should “centre those student voices that aren’t being listened to.”
Cổ decided to run for the position of vice-president equity, because she wants to prevent others from experiencing the types of equity-related issues that she and her friends have faced. Over the summer, she worked as an organizing intern for the American Civil Liberties Union. She hopes to use the lessons she learned working with marginalized groups to meet students’ concerns and needs.
Cổ wants to ensure that the U of T student body understands the UTSU’s actions. She proposed that the UTSU creates a year-round form where students can express their equity concerns and provide ideas to the union. She also mentioned that, if elected, she would focus on ensuring that the UTSU staff receives thorough equity training that includes the critical and philosophical frameworks she’s learned through her minors.
Micah Kalisch is a fourth-year student with a specialist in women and gender studies, a major in sociology, and a minor in critical studies in equity and solidarity. They are the executive assistant to the current vice president equity.
In addition to being the founder and director of the Prevention, Empowerment, Advocacy, Response, for Survivors Project — more commonly known as the PEARS Project — they have worked with the UofT Mental Health Policy Council, and have spoken at various Governing Council meetings.
Kalisch said in an interview with The Varsity that they have seen large systemic barriers to and gaps in support for students, as well as internal issues within the UTSU in terms of policies. They hope to shift the role and launch programs that support students.
Their campaign’s primary goals are creating a safer space on campus with a focus on anti-violence work, building meaningful connections with the community, and using the UTSU’s resources to help organizations engaging in anti-oppressive work. They aim to bolster student and financial aid, and make the vice-president equity position more student-centered. Finally, Kalisch aims to create a more inclusive and accessible space for students.
Fatima Sohail is a third-year student studying contemporary Asian studies and critical studies in equity and solidarity. Currently, she is the corporate relations manager for the U of T Women’s Association, a student group that empowers women through education and community-building spaces.
In an interview with The Varsity, Sohail described the challenges students face when seeking bursaries and grants, particularly when they require these resources promptly. “I want to find a way where I can help all these students, because I’ve been in their position before,” she said.
Sohail’s campaign focuses on helping first generation students navigate the university. “There are resources available on campus, but oftentimes, I find that most students are unaware of these resources,” she said. She hopes to create a package for new students and hold information sessions during orientation week.
In addition, Sohail wants to streamline the UTSU’s processes so that clubs and students can receive funding more quickly. She hopes to collaborate with groups that support queer students and students of colour to facilitate an environment on campus where these students can feel comfortable.
Rebecca Sy is a second-year neuroscience major and minoring in physiology and psychology. She was the UTSU’s life sciences director last year. In an interview with The Varsity, Sy said that her campaign priorities are accessibility, finance, and student learning programs.
Sy aims to reduce wait times for student mental health resources by hiring more practitioners. She would also like to work toward decreasing stigmas surrounding mental health resources, especially for first-generation, international, and racialized students.
Also, Sy aims to reduce costs for students, such as textbooks and software required for classes and fees for deferring exams. She highlights that these extra costs may be inequitable and burdensome, especially in addition to regular tuition fees.
Sy aims to “create a more even playing field” in developing skills like networking and résumé building. She pointed out that these skills are often accessed through personal connections, which some groups may not have access to.
Finally, Sy noted a lack of communication between UTSU executive members and the Board of Directors, which she attributes to the power dynamics within the union government. She hopes to see this environment improve and would encourage UTSU members to approach her as a friend.