On November 10, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) Board of Directors (BOD) held its fifth meeting of the academic year, where BOD members approved the union’s operating budget, and the operating budget for the Blind Duck pub. The union expects to end the year with a net loss for the first time in at least four years.
The BOD also voted to allocate a $500 donation for humanitarian aid to Gazans in response to the ongoing crisis. Executive committee members discussed advocacy projects and upcoming events.
The union will hold its Annual General Meeting on November 29 at 6:00 pm. All UTM undergraduate students can attend the meeting to vote on any proposed changes to the union’s bylaws, hear about the union’s previous work and plans for the future, and determine whether to approve the union’s 2021–2022 financial statements.
John (Yongxin) Liang, UTMSU vice-president internal, presented the union’s 2023–2024 operating budget. This academic year, the union expects to spend $1,546,950, contribute $100,000 to a contingency fund, and receive $1,612,500 — with a total projected loss of $34,450. In the 2020–2021, 2021–2022, and 2022–2023 academic years, the union’s operating budget projected a net gain. The union expects higher expenses and revenue this year, projecting its spending to be 6.6 per cent higher than last year.
The union estimated that orientation costed $290,000, excluding concert expenses. The union received $13,000 less from sponsorships than it had anticipated. Election costs were also higher than those listed in the preliminary budget — totalling $79,500 — because the union ran both the division election and the student expansion referendum. Salary and benefits costs also increased slightly compared to last year, which Liang attributed to the increase in Ontario’s minimum wage from $15.50 to $16.55.
Bursary, club funding, and emergency funding remained similar to last year.
Liang also presented the operating budget for the Blind Duck, the UTMSU’s pub. The union expects that the Blind Duck will earn $525,000 from sales and an additional $173,500 from other sources, such as the levy, club subsidies, and rental income from the bubble tea store next to it, for a total revenue of $698,500. Its total expected expenses amount to $732,800, for an overall loss of $34,300.
Liang explained that the pub expects a consistent revenue stream, with a slight increase in food sales expected given higher demand. The union projects that membership fees, excess money from health and dental plan levies, and U-Pass fees will remain consistent compared to the 2022–2023 year and that other revenue sources will remain stable.
Food and beverage expenses increased, which Liang attributed to the higher cost of food items. The union expects other expenses, such as advertising, promotion, cleaning, insurance, and security, to remain at their current levels.
The BOD passed a motion to donate $500, through the Association of Palestinian Students (APS) at UTM, to aid Gazans in the ongoing Gaza humanitarian crisis, and $500 to Independent Jewish Voices, an organization working to amplify pro-Palestine voices and advocate for peace in the region.
Executive reports and upcoming plans
In her report, Okikioladuni (Kiki) Ayoola — UTMSU vice-president external — highlighted and invited students to apply to the recently launched Transit Advisory Committee, which will advise the City of Mississauga on improving public transit services. Alongside staff from the International Education Centre, Ayoola is also planning to hold an international students forum where students will discuss struggles faced by international students and connect with organizations that provide financial aid and work opportunities.
Ruth Alemayehu, UTMSU vice-president equity, explained that the union has started planning events for Black History Month and working to develop resources for the Black Student Association’s mentorship program, which connects upper-year students with underclassmen.
President Gulfy Bekbolatova explained that the union has been working on releasing statements on the union’s website responding to Jill Dunlop — Ontario minister of colleges and universities — and UTM Principal Alexandra Gillespie’s criticism of the UTMSU’s October 10 statement on the violence in Gaza and Israel. Bekbolatova has also helped organize events such as a walkout and a protest calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which was hosted in collaboration with the APS UTM, the Middle Eastern Students’ Association, and the Syrian Students’ Association.
Upcoming events from the union include a Holiday Market on November 30 in collaboration with the Little Market, and Winter Fest Week, which will take place from November 27 to December 1 and feature events and de-stressors for students.