During a February 29 debate, candidates running to be 2024–2025 executives for Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) on the ELEVATE UTSC and IMPACT UTSC slates expanded on their platforms and answered questions submitted by students about their plans if elected. 

Student environmental group Regenesis UTSC also answered questions about its proposed student levy, which students will vote on whether to approve during the upcoming elections on March 4–6. Some students raised concerns about the proposed levy, noting that the SCSU Vice President (VP) Operations Akaash Palaparthy described the Regenesis UTSC budget as “rudimentary.” 

Multiple candidates mentioned Scarborough Campus OUT (SC:OUT) — a club on campus that promotes awareness and advocates to combat 2SLGBTQ+ issues at UTSC. After the debate, in an interview with The Varsity, SC:OUT accused candidates of using equity “buzzwords” without recognizing the group’s advocacy.

The debate 

The debate, held by the SCSU, took place from 5:00–7:00 pm on the 1265 Bistro stage. Before the debate, the SCSU held a Q&A session with Regenesis UTSC from 4:00–5:00 pm regarding its proposed levy. The SCSU invited students to submit questions in advance for the executive candidates and for Regenesis UTSC if they had concerns regarding the levy. 

The last time an executive debate was held at UTSC was during the 2019 elections, and was hosted by The Underground — the UTSC student publication.

The questions from students ranged from how each slate plans to balance advocacy for internal and external issues, to how they plan on dealing with the UTSC administration on protests. 

“It was such a good experience because we’ve been finding the opportunity to openly talk about our campaign points and to talk about our vision for the year, to really try and get the community engaged and answer some questions as a team together,” Hunain Sindhu, presidential candidate from the IMPACT UTSC slate, told The Varsity.

Last year’s SCSU election had a voter turnout of less than four per cent. SCSU President Amrith David hopes to see more engagement this year, he told The Varsity. “I really think most of us are getting involved, most of us are finding interest in the work we’re doing.”

The SCSU livestreamed the debate on its Instagram page. David mentioned that over 40 people listened to the livestream, and students in the audience packed the 1265 Bistro stage to the point where there weren’t enough chairs. 


Candidates from the debate referenced SC:OUT during the debate, discussing the club’s events. However, Raahi — the health and safety coordinator and co-president of SC:OUT, who requested we not use their last name for safety reasons — told The Varsity that the group had reached out to both slates in the past and “the responses have always been either cold or non-existent.”

Aanya Sinha, VP equity candidate for ELEVATE UTSC, specifically spoke during the debate about the group, characterizing it as a space “where students of the LGBTQ community can go and inherently be themselves.” Raahi criticized this, saying Sinha didn’t discuss the group’s political work advocating for 2SLGBTQ+ issues.

“What we need the SCSU to be is an inherently political organization as well that supports this advocacy work, because they are running for positions that are where they’re supposed to be political organizers. It’s not us that’s supposed to be reaching out,” they said. “Even in this forum, they mostly talked about buzzwords such as inclusivity, diversity, equity… despite there [not] being any conversation around what SC:OUT actually does.” 

Sinha responded in a message to The Varsity that she still believes that SC:OUT is a space that helps students on campus. She spoke to members after the debate and “took full responsibility” for not being aware of their political alignment. “I am still genuinely sorry that my words did not do complete justice to who they are as a group,” wrote Sinha. 

Raahi also said that, although candidates promised to fund the group in their platform, no candidates had reached out to SC:OUT to ask about what funding it needs. The group gets its funding from the Student Life Program, not the union.

“Overall, we are not in need of money, we are in need of advocacy, and specifically, we are in need of people giving a shit and not in a wave a happy little rainbow flag [way],” said Gillian Nightingale, the group’s finance coordinator.

The group also said that the debate didn’t allow them sufficient time to ask candidates questions because it ran out of time.

Regenesis levy 

Regenesis UTSC president Harry Xu highlighted the importance of the levy for the club’s programming during their Q&A session. The stipulations of its levy proposal state that starting fall 2024, full-time students would pay a fee of $7.23 per session, and part-time students would pay $3.62. The proposal also says that students will be able to opt out of the levy.

Palaparthy mentioned during SCSU’s February board of directors meeting that Regenesis UTSC’s budget was very rudimentary. Xu said that since students have the right to opt out of the levy, depending on how many people opt out, the group doesn’t know what its budget will look like. 

Regenesis UTSC submitted a motion during the SCSU’s Annual General Meeting last November to lower the voter turnout required to pass a referendum vote from 10 per cent to three per cent of the student body. The motion was struck down. Xu added that this proposal was “100 per cent” correlated with their current levy. 

“We hope in the future that we’ll be able to provide better services,” said Xu. Regenesis UTSC is hopeful to receive more funding for its initiatives on campus, including a free store, an item library, and a bike centre. Xu also mentioned that students can refer to their op-ed on why Regenesis UTSC needs the levy. 

Marlon Mortilla, a third-year double majoring in public policy and city studies with a minor in bioethics, spoke to The Varsity regarding his concerns about the Regenesis UTSC levy. 

“For me, it was kind of weird to see SCSU put [the Regenesis levy] forward to referendum. Because if it was bad in the first place, shouldn’t you have the discretion to kill that motion,” said Mortilla. 

Voting for the spring general elections will take place from March 4–6 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm in the Instructional Centre, Student Centre, and Bladen Wing hallway. 

IMPACT UTSC did not respond to The Varsity’srequest for comment in time for publication.