In the 2022–2023 academic year, the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) operated for the first time under its new governance structure, which has remained a topic of contention despite approval during the union’s 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM). Persistent vacancies, long meetings over bylaw disputes, and a drawn-out process for appointing the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) characterized the UTGSU 2022–2023 session.
The union struggled with vacancies throughout the year. For the first meeting of the academic year, the Board of Directors (BOD) and General Assembly held a joint session because the BOD could not get enough people to meet quorum.
The union also had two vacant executive positions during the course of the year: the vice-president external position remained unfilled for the majority of the year and Vice-President Internal Sarah Alam resigned from her position during the union’s AGM in December 2022. In her resignation speech, she cited harassment that she received from several UTGSU members as a factor that contributed to her decision. The members cited denied personally harassing Alam.
According to the UTGSU bylaws, the BOD must appoint a committee made up of a former member of the Elections & Referenda Committee, the Executive Director, and another BOD representative to find a CRO candidate. Due to vacancies on the BOD, Alam proposed at the October General Assembly Meeting that the UTGSU staff members find the CRO candidate. Members did not approve her suggestion.
Members debated on this issue for the majority of the year until, at their February meeting, the BOD agreed to issue a call for general members — which includes all graduate students — to join the CRO appointment committee. The BOD appointed the CRO to administer the general election at its March 13 meeting.
This year, the UTGSU operated for the first time under a new mental health care coverage, with the UTGSU Health Plan covering 100 per cent of the costs for care from mental health providers up to a total of $750. At the March 20 BOD meeting, UTGSU President Lwanga Musisi mentioned that the members widely used this coverage.
The UTGSU is currently accepting nominations for executive committee and BOD election candidates. The campaign period will last from April 8–21, with voting opening on April 18.