On June 19, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) held its June Board of Directors (BOD) meeting. The executives discussed the UTSU’s preliminary budget for the upcoming academic year, as well as plans for new and reinvigorated student support and student-run programs.
The board voted to approve the UTSU’s 2023–2024 preliminary budget, which may be subject to refinement. For the upcoming school year, the UTSU expects a total revenue of $3,476,890 and a total of $3,699,650 in expenses, adding up to a deficit of $222,760.
This would be the third consecutive year that the union has experienced a deficit.
According to the preliminary budget, the union will launch its Community Housing and Employment Support Services (CHESS) program in the 2023–2024 school year. CHESS was approved at a previous BOD meeting after 58 per cent of the student body voted in favour of it. All U of T students will face a mandatory fee of four dollars to support the program, and it is expected to raise a total of $160,000 in revenue. The funds will go towards workshops, expert counseling, and online resources that would help students navigate housing and job markets.
Some proposed CHESS services include lease inspections for students by staff with knowledge of the Residential Tenancies Act, career planning support, and an online student portal for job and housing opportunities.
The budget also notes that the Student Commons, which took 15 years and $24.5 million dollars to build, has exceeded the UTSU’s expectations for revenue. According to last year’s budget, the Commons was predicted to generate a total revenue of $150,000, yet its actual revenue amounted to $213,481. This year, the budget projects a revenue of $350,000.
The UTSU’s budget also indicates that the union predicts an increase in expenses. The amount of money it allocates for community-focused initiatives, including the union’s fund for its student refugee program, has risen by $75,000 compared to last year. Expenditures for board training and development, executive compensation, travel, and accommodation have also increased significantly.
The union reported that it is working to reestablish Radical Roots, a not-for-profit student-run vegan eatery, which stopped operating after U of T discontinued its contract in the mid 2000s.
Three UTSU executives joined the meeting virtually from Vancouver, where they were attending a conference hosted by the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities. There, they met with delegates from other Canadian schools, exchanged ideas about student life, and learned about services offered by campus activity suppliers.