During their March 30 meeting, the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) Board of Directors (BOD) passed a resolution to sever ties with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and work toward closing the RBC branch in the UTSU Student Commons by November 2026. The BOD also discussed referendum results and 2023–2024 student fees.
Climate Justice UofT and RBC on campus
On March 2, Climate Justice UofT held a sit-in outside the RBC on-campus branch in the UTSU Student Commons. The protesters demanded that the union cut their connection to the bank, highlighting that RBC is the largest Canadian funder of fossil fuel companies and the fifth-largest funder worldwide. At the March BOD meeting, UTSU President Omar Gharbiyeh expressed his gratitude toward the students who “put in the effort” to meet with the UTSU and voice their concerns about RBC.
BOD members passed a motion resolving that the UTSU’s executive committee begin negotiating with RBC to close the on-campus branch when its contracted five-year term ends in November 2026. The motion also resolves that the UTSU end any RBC sponsorships for itsand look into alternative options for the union’s day-to-day banking. Finally, the motion directs the Finance Committee to create a policy for presentation to the Governance Committee that would bind the UTSU to “high standards of ethical, moral, and environmental responsibility” when engaging with financial institutions.
Fees and election results for 2023–2024
The BOD approved fees for the 2023–2024 school year, increasing health and dental plans by three per cent in light of “anticipated premium increases.” Fees for the UTSU Student Commons will increase based on agreements between U of T and the UTSU. In all other categories, fees will remain constant or increase in line with the Ontario or Canada Consumer Price Index (CPI) — a commonly used measure of prices. The UTSU will increase fees tied to the Canadian CPI by 6.3 per cent and those tied to the Ontario CPI by six per cent. Overall, the UTSU will charge each UTSG full-time undergraduate student $303.12 for the 2023–2024 school year.
The UTSU spring 2023 elections concluded on February 17, and no candidates reported disputes after the appeals period ended. The BOD passed a resolution recognizing the results as “true and correct, and ready to be considered by the Governing Council.” The UTSU will present the results for approval at the UTSU’s 2023 Spring General Meeting, which will take place at the end of April.
UTSU’s Strategic Plan
In late 2020, the UTSU began a strategic planning process to guide the union’s actions, which involved student consultations, research into historical planning documents, and workshop sessions with the BOD and staff. The five-year plan identifies three priorities — expanding the union’s reach by engaging students and building partnerships, enhancing effectiveness, and ensuring stability — and lays out specific strategies and indicators to accomplish each. Some goals include increasing social media following and voter turnout, creating systems to ensure that ideas and priorities transfer between years, and expanding use of the Student Commons.
Vice-President Operations Dermot O’Halloran moved a motion for the BOD to adopt the plan. In his statement explaining the motion to the BOD, O’Halloran said that, by passing the motion, the board would “help the UTSU more tangibly and consistently guide itself the next five years.” The BOD passed the motion, adopting the plan.