During its January 19 meeting, the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union’s (UTGSU) Board of Directors (BOD) filled vacant committee seats with directors elected in December and discussed the process for selecting members to fill its Board of Appeal.

During the union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on November 28, members passed a motion proposed by pharmaceutical sciences student and at-the-time BOD member Chris Rodgers that tasked the union with creating a functioning Board of Appeal as soon as possible. 

The January 19 meeting, the first of 2024, constituted the first for many directors elected through the by-election held during the union’s AGM.

Filling committees

Over email, from December 14–22, BOD members approved Devonnia Miller as the Chief Returning Officer for the union’s 2024 general elections. 

The main items on the BOD’s agenda aimed to fill vacant seats on board committees. Given the many changes to BOD membership over the fall semester, due to resignations and by-elections, the BOD decided to start the committee selection process from scratch and elect all new members to the director slots on each committee. 

The BOD elected members to fill most of the available seats on the Campaigns & Activism, Governance, Graduate Affairs, Finance, Elections & Referenda, and Funding Committees. 

Each committee — except for the Campaigns & Activism Committee and the Elections & Referenda Committee — allocates one voting-member position to board representatives from each of the four academic divisions the union represents. The union did not fill all division spots. Kanika Josephine Lawton is the only representative on the board from division one, which represents the humanities, and could not fill all of the committees’ division 1 voting positions by themself. Jonah Dunch, who was elected as the other new director for division one during the by-election, tendered their resignation before the meeting due to other commitments.

To fill the Elections & Referenda Committee, which the union has struggled to fill in previous years, the BOD agreed to ask back committee members who served during the by-election, as they had expressed interest in continuing on the committee. 

Board of Appeal

According to the UTGSU Bylaws section, the Board of Appeal has the power to investigate decisions made by “the Chair, the Board of Directors, the Executive, Committee, the Elections and Referenda Committee, the Chief and, Deputy Returning Officers, and the UTGSU Course Unions.” However, neither the UTGSU Bylaws nor the Policy handbook outlines a formal process for selecting the Board of Appeal’s members.

During the AGM, members discussed the complete dearth of individuals currently on the Board of Appeal. At the BOD meeting, UTGSU Executive Director Corey Scott said he hoped to remedy this by setting up a process for a BOD committee to interview and recommend people to take on the Board of Appeal’s chair and vice-chair positions. He argued that a nominating process where the committee reviews applicants and presents them to the BOD for approval would ensure more members of the BOD could be involved in appointing applicants, as opposed to if it established a small committee that would work to appoint people independently of the BOD. 

The BOD appointed three members to sit on the nominating committee.