UTSC students will have the opportunity to choose next year’s vice-president academics and university affairs (VP AUA) in the upcoming Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU) elections taking place March 4–6. The VP AUA represents the union in various university committees, lobbies U of T to improve students’ experiences, and provides advice to students on academic affairs.

The Varsity spoke with each of the candidates about their goals and the policies they plan to advocate for if elected.

Desteenie Africa (ELEVATE UTSC)

Desteenie Africa is running on the ELEVATE UTSC slate. A fifth-year city studies major with a double minor in English and sociology, Africa told The Varsity that her familiarity with current academic policies and her wish to “make students more prideful that they are specifically at UTSC and not just U of T as a whole” motivated her to run for this position. 

The primary focus of Africa’s advocacy, if elected, will be extending the credit/no credit period to allow UTSC students to choose no credit after receiving their exam grades. 

Africa also hopes to advocate for a policy where courses with over 100 students enrolled must offer a web or hybrid option.

Finally, Africa wants to introduce a course recovery policy that would let students remove a failing grade from their transcript if they retook and passed the course. Such a policy exists at UTM, but not at UTSC or UTSG.

Africa has worked with AccessAbility Services — a student and academic service equity office at UTSC that coordinates student accommodations — since her first year. She said this job has helped her identify existing communication barriers between administration, professors, and students, which helped spark her interest in the VP AUA position.

Zanira Manesiya (IMPACT UTSC)

Zanira Manesiya — a fifth-year student double majoring in neuroscience and mental health studies and minoring in English literature — is running as part of the IMPACT UTSC slate. Currently, she sits on the UTSC Campus Affairs Committee and the Council on Student Services, which advises UTSC on student life. She also works as a coordinator for the SCSU’s Food Centre. 

In an interview with The Varsity, Manesiya outlined three main focuses if elected. 

First, she plans to advocate for increased departmental scholarships or grants to further support students financially. She also hopes to advocate for affordable textbooks and other course materials for students. 

Second, she plans to lobby for “academic policies that will ease the academic burden on students,” such as pushing the deadline for a student to designate a course credit/no credit until after students receive their course grades. 

Finally, she hopes to introduce an Academic Advocacy Coordinator role at the SCSU to help students deal with academic integrity offences and support the work of the VP AUA.“Working with people of all backgrounds, both locally and globally, has championed my belief that supporting each other and working together is the best way to move forward,” she told The Varsity.