During its February 8 meeting, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) Board of Directors (BOD) agreed to run a referendum where students will determine whether each full-time student will pay $7.23 each session to fund Regenesis UTSC — one of the branches of Regenesis, an environmentalism club that exist across the three campuses. SCSU executives noted a lack of sophistication in the club’s budget but will leave students to decide whether to vote in favour of the levy.

SCSU Vice President (VP) Equity Vyshnavi Kanagarajamuthaly also gave insight into a backlog of Academic Bursary applications, which she attributed to the month-long VP equity vacancy.

Regenesis levy 

In a presentation to the board, Regenesis UTSC VP Operations Aleema Abbas highlighted the importance of obtaining a levy for the club’s programming. If passed during the spring elections’ voting period running March 4–6, full-time students would pay a fee of $7.23 per session and part-time students would pay $3.62 per session starting fall 2024. 

According to Regenesis UTSC’s submission to the BOD, the collected fees would go toward environmental initiatives and programming on and near campus, including a free store that provides students clothes and books while diverting waste; free meals and cooking workshops for students; and a program to reduce food waste on campus by rescuing and distributing food from catered events. 

During a referendum in the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union’s spring 2023 elections, UTM Regenesis successfully campaigned for a five-dollar per-session fee charged to full-time students and a $2.50 per-session fee charged to part-time students, which students will pay starting in fall 2024.   

According to the submission, Regenesis UTSC “differs from the typical student club, as we provide eco-student services, which require regularity and reliability, for which student staffing and suitable space and equipment are needed.” 

At the SCSU board meeting, the board did not vote to implement the levy itself — they voted to allow students to determine during the upcoming spring general elections whether they want to accept the levy.

“It’s up to the student body,” SCSU President Amrith David told The Varsity in an interview. “We are an impartial unit in this referendum and [the] elections process in general, so we do not get involved with anything.” 

Abbas presented the board with the proposed budget justifying Regenesis’ levy, but SCSU VP Operations Akaash Palaparthy noticed inconsistencies in their plan. “Their budget was very rudimentary,” he told The Varsity in an interview. “A budget needs to show how it proceeds in the next five years, but their numbers remain the same.” 

Palaparthy highlighted the importance of oversight when creating budgets that impact funds contributed by the student body, since, for a student, every dollar matters. 

“Regenesis [UTSC] will have to come up with their budget allocation and show the student body where the money is going towards. And that’s up to them,” said David. 

Bursary backlog

During the meeting, Kanagarajamuthaly raised a concern about the SCSU Academic Bursary, which aims to help eliminate the financial barriers students face. Eligible students can receive up to $500 in academic relief per semester. 

Kanagarajamuthaly noted a backlog during her transition period. “It is unfortunate that some of those students who did have emergency crises at that time weren’t able to receive their funding right away,” she said. 

She explained that the SCSU had been receiving submissions for the bursary since fall 2023 but had last dispersed funding during summer 2023. The SCSU had scheduled applications for the fall semester’s application cycle to close on December 17, but, with the resignation of the previous VP equity in early December, the union couldn’t administer bursaries until it appointed an interim VP equity. 

“At the end of the day, my priority is getting the funds disbursed to the students that need them,” said Kanagarajamuthaly. 

Kanagarajamuthaly has informed students who applied via email that the union faced some “internal constraints” that prevented it from putting through applications. She has received positive feedback from students, but the SCSU is still working through applications. 

“We are optimistic that all pending Academic Bursary and Emergency Grant applications will be reviewed by the end of this month,” wrote David in an email to The Varsity.

Regenesis UTSC did not reply to The Varsity’s request for comment in time for publication.