The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) held its monthly General Assembly meeting on February 21. The meeting largely consisted of a course union discussion and information session, along with a brief update about the process for hiring an Elections & Referenda Committee and a Chief Returning Officer (CRO) to administer the UTGSU’s elections. 

Course union discussions

The meeting began with comments from the UTGSU Chair Sandhya Mylabathula, who noted that the meeting would abide by a two-strike system, where the chair would remove any members who received two strikes for disobeying the Equity Statement. Mylabathula also explicitly stated that yelling and shouting, which occurred at previous meetings, would not be tolerated. 

Course unions then presented their reports for information and discussion. Representatives posed questions and presented issues faced by their associations, while other association representatives provided answers and suggestions. 

One representative from the Classics Graduate Student Union asked if the UTGSU planned to host any professional development opportunities. They also mentioned that instances of discrimination based on gender and ability occurred in their department and asked where they could go to discuss these issues. 

Danielle Karakas, vice-president academics and funding for the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) divisions 3 and 4, said the union is planning a financial literacy workshop. To address issues of discrimination, she recommended getting in touch with Dhanela Sivaparan, the vice-president of academics and funding for the SGS divisions 1 and 2, to discuss advocacy and other resources. 

Elections hiring updates 

The UTGSU general assembly also received updates regarding the Elections & Referenda Committee and CRO hiring processes. 

During the January 2023 Board of Directors (BOD) meeting, board members voted to allow nominations for Elections & Referenda Committee members from the general UTGSU membership, since the union had trouble finding BOD members to fill the committee. The Elections & Referenda Committee is tasked with hiring the CRO.

Karakas said that the union extended the deadline to apply to the Elections & Referenda Committee to encourage “as many applications as possible.” The union also extended the hiring period for the Board of Appeals Chair, who receives and reviews complaints that the BOD cannot address.

The UTGSU plans to hold elections in late March or early April.