From March 12 at 10:00 am to March 14 at 6:00 pm, UTM students will be able to cast their votes to determine who will govern the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) for the 2024–2025 school year. To read up on a candidate, click on the buttons below!

Presidential candidates

Joelle Salsa

Aryaman Chopra

Ehab James

Vice-President Internal

Ronny (Yuyang) Chen

Albert Pan

Vice-President External

Daniel Ripoll

Simran Kaur Rattanpal

Vice-President University Affairs

Sidra Ahsan

Majo Romero

Vice-President Equity

Philip Anyag

Layla Zarroug


Joelle Salsa (EMPOWER UTM)

Joelle Salsa — a third-year specializing in theatre and drama studies — told The Varsity that she’s “passionate about representing the diverse voices [of the student] body.” She serves as president of the Association of Palestinian Students and as a member experience associate at the gym MOVATI Athletic, where she has advocated to resolve peoples’ individual concerns with their health and broader concerns with the university.

Salsa’s focuses include increasing the number of student seats on U of T governance committees, and clearly communicating the important decisions these committees make and how to become involved. Salsa hopes to push the university to increase financial aid and collaborate with national organizations like the Canadian Federation of Students to lobby the government to address high tuition.

She says she’s “very committed” to the union’s Divest Now campaign, and hopes to advocate for U of T to pursue an investment strategy that is “anti-genocide and anti-occupational.” She says she intends to research and advocate for what students think U of T should divest from. Salsa aims to increase the range of food options by pressuring the university to expand options and directly providing food through collaborations with restaurants, as well as offering a buffet and fresh produce in the student centre.

Finally, Salsa wants to ensure “the union is a home for students.” She pledged to host office hours and collaborate with campus groups so that students will come to the union with issues they face.

Aryaman Chopra

Aryaman Chopra — a first-year student studying life sciences — has served as this year’s Mississauga director for The Varsity’s board of directors, a role in which he says he gained “first-hand knowledge of the issues that are affecting [the UTM] community.”

Chopra, who is not running with any slate, told The Varsity that he wants to reduce the fees the union charges to students and provide students the choice to opt out of incidental fees. He pledged to donate his entire presidential salary to the union’s initiatives and students in financial need.

Chopra’s platform also includes advocating for the increased frequency of bus 199, which currently runs from UTM to Brampton six times a day. He also wants to extend the Blind Duck Pub’s hours — which currently run from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday to Thursday, and until 5:00 pm on Friday — so it remains open late into the night, until around 11:00 pm or 12:00 am.

Chopra noted that the union has experienced some controversy, such as during last year’s elections, and is “not really liked by the student body.” To increase engagement, he plans to ensure students can email executives — who currently do not have their emails posted on the UTMSU website — and directly approach students in the student centre to ask for feedback.

Ehab James (ForUTM)

Ehab James — a third-year double majoring in political science and sociology — wrote in an email to The Varsity that “some of the most common issues students experience have persisted throughout the years.”

James serves on the Academic Plan Task Force and other governing bodies, including the UTM Campus Council and UTM Academic Affairs Committee. Combined with his experiences as a Program Assistant for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Canada, James wrote, “I have worked with the government and the university and these experiences have taught me how they work, how to work with them, and how to raise our voice and get things done for students.”

“The UTMSU desperately needs change,” he wrote.

James’s campaign focuses on including multi-faith spaces in new on-campus housing, re-negotiating Universal Pass access to include Brampton transit, increasing MiWAY service to UTM, and “repackaging good-to-eat food” from campus into free meals provided to students.

James emphasizes that “no issue is too small, or too big, for our UTMSU to work on.” He aims to increase connections with student clubs to prioritize student concerns in the UTMSU’s decision-making. He also commits to consult student and club leaders about any UTMSU policies and initiatives. “We need a UTMSU working for the students, by the students, and with the students,” he wrote.

Vice-president Internal

Ronny (Yuyang) Chen (EmpowerUTM)

“Students deserve access to diverse, affordable, and good food options, and I will make it a priority to work on this,” said Chen. 

If elected, she seeks to enhance accessibility and transparency within the UTMSU by hosting office hours and creating space for students to ask questions about budgets.

Ronny (Yuyang) Chen — a third-year student double majoring in mathematics and statistics — first became involved with the UTMSU when she started volunteering for the union two years ago. This year, she served as UTMSU’s vice-president internal associate, focusing on budget services and operations, and helping her team secure sponsorships for events like the Lunar New Year Hot Pot.

In an interview with The Varsity, Chen said she would aim to address rising food costs on campus through initiatives like an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch at the Blind Duck and providing fresh produce at the Food Centre. Chen also hopes to make more affordable services like barbers and nail technicians available on campus to alleviate the cost burden on commuter students.

Albert Pan (ForUTM)

Albert Pan — a first-year hoping to double major in biochemistry and anthropology — wrote in an email to The Varsity that he’s running for the role because of his commitment to “champion[ing] change” that he’s held from a young age.

Though he hasn’t had the chance to participate widely in organizations on campus so far, Pan has played team sports for the last 15 years, which, he wrote, has taught him skills like time management, empathy, and leadership.

Pan’s main campaign promises include increasing financial transparency from the union by clearly communicating the union’s budget to the public through detailed quarterly financial updates. Additionally, Pan aims to host opportunities for students to give input on how the UTMSU spends its budget.

“Students have the right to know exactly where the union is spending money, since that is all student money at the end of the day,” he wrote.Pan also pledges to spearhead more career opportunities, such as resume-building workshops hosted through the union, to help students during uncertain economic times.

Vice-President External

Daniel Ripoll (EmpowerUTM)

Daniel Ripoll — a fourth-year student studying political science and philosophy — told The Varsity that the main focus of his campaign is improving public transit for students. He’s served as the VP external relations for the UTM Mock Trial Club and the Filipino Student Association at UTM. 

If elected, Ripoll plans to lobby MiWay to increase the number of buses running the 44 route — which runs from UTM to Meadowvale Town Centre — and the 26 route — which runs from Kipling to the South Common Mall — and push the city to build bike and ride-sharing options students can use to get to campus. He also pledged to lobby the Brampton transit service to get more buses for the 199 route — which travels between Brampton and UTM. He also wants to investigate the lack of GoBus services at UTM.

“I’m a commuter myself, and I think a lot of students get to campus by commuting, so they really need the support,” he said.

Simran Kaur Rattanpal (ForUTM)

Ripoll also told The Varsity that he wants to improve the UTMSU’s relationships with other student unions and the provincial and municipal governments. He said this would allow them to work collectively and improve the quality of the student experience at U of T.

Elijah (Eli) Miller-Buza — a second-year student double majoring in peace, conflict, justice studies and geography — serves as an executive member of Enactus, a student group aimed at using business for social and environmental change. He also worked on Munk One’s Case Competition event. 

Miller-Buza’s campaign focuses fall under the acronym HATS: housing, accessibility, transit, and safety. 

In terms of housing, he wants to lobby the government to support universities in building more housing and provide further support to students who don’t live in residences. 

Simran Kaur Rattanpal — a third-year double majoring in political science and history of religions — wrote in an email to The Varsity that she wants to “help students get the best out of their university experience.” She’s participated in the UTM Pre-Law Organization, the Political Science Association, and the Historical Studies Society, which, she writes, provided her with opportunities to connect with professionals and UTM administrators.

Rattanpal’s campaign focuses on transit, housing, and food availability on campus. She plans to work with the mayor of Mississauga to extend transit lines into Brampton and increase the frequency of buses running to or from campus, including the 44, the 1, and the 199. She also pledged to advocate for UTM to allocate more residence spots for upper-years and extend operating hours for on-campus dining halls and restaurants so that students can grab food after class.

Rattanpal wants to push UTM to implement residence-specific wifi networks that will handle the “heavy workload” students face. To increase the union’s accessibility, she hopes to transition future UTMSU elections to have online voting.

Rattanpal says that the ForUTM slate prides itself on having already sat down with various student groups and external advisors — including the mayor of Mississauga — to ensure that its plans are feasible. “We are not making promises that we cannot keep,” she wrote.

Vice-President, University Life

Sidra Ahsan (EmpowerUTM)

In an interview with The Varsity, Sidra Ahsan — a fifth-year student majoring in biology for health science and minoring in creative writing and French studies — highlighted her experience researching university policies as a student support associate at the UTMSU. She said that this research has provided her insight into the challenges students face, such as academic isolation.

If elected, Ahsan aims to establish an Academic and Career Mentorship Program to connect students with alumni and experts in their fields of interest. She also plans to collaborate with the Career Centre to organize professional networking nights and financial literacy workshops, particularly for students from programs like arts that often don’t typically receive that type of support.

Ahsan also hopes to reform academic policies, including advocating for a revised CR/NCR system where students can declare “NCR” after they receive their final grade. Ahsan says she’s heard from students that the current model isn’t effective for them.

“I believe students are entitled to services that support their mental health and well-being,” said Ahsan. “I’m dedicated to empowering them by helping them take control of their careers and university life at UTM.”

Majo Romero (ForUTM)

Majo Romero wrote in an email to The Varsity that she wants students “to have a better opportunity [to succeed]” than she’s had in her three years at UTM. A third-year student studying psychology and digital enterprise management, Romero served as the event director for the Latin American Student Association, where she planned and organized events that catered to the student community. Romero’s campaign focuses on advocating for U of T to move the CR/NCR deadline to after students receive their final grades. She also hopes to change exam deferral policies so that when a student defers an exam after someone they know dies, they no longer have to provide proof of death documentation. In addition, she wishes to push for more scholarships geared toward international students who would not otherwise be able to afford UTM tuition.

Romero aims to “create more options for students to get academic job opportunities” by collaborating with the Career Centre to develop new programs, and partner with local businesses to offer internships and create mentorship programs where students can get advice from professionals in the fields that interest them.

To encourage students’ confidence that UTMSU is “finally making tangible, meaningful progress,” Romero said she would listen to students and floated the idea of “reforming how the elections are held” to make it easier for any student to run.

Vice-President, Equity

Philip Anyang (EmpowerUTM)

Philip Anyang — a third-year student studying economics and political science — told The Varsity that he wants to see initiatives on campus where “people feel more included, feel more supported, and [that] make campus a much safer and inclusive place for students.”

He currently serves as an outreach and marketing assistant at the UTM Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office and previously worked with the university’s Anti-Black Racism Task Force to advocate for inclusive policies within academic units. 

Anyang pledged that, if elected, he would work to create a dedicated space within the UTMSU’s racialized students’ lounge where students can “connect with peers and strengthen their community.” 

Anyang also wants to host more equity-related events, workshops, and cultural celebrations throughout the year and to create a calendar displaying equity events on campus. He also hopes to establish a fund to provide campus groups with more financial support that they need to host events. 

Anyang highlighted accessibility as a huge issue on the UTM campus. He expressed disappointment in U of T’s “inaction” in promoting and supporting students with disabilities. To combat this issue, Anyang said he would create an accessibility team that would identify areas where students’ needs may not be met.

Layla Zarroug (ForUTM)

Layla Zarroug — a third-year double major in political science and psychology — wrote in an email to The Varsity that she would use her position as VP equity “as a platform to create equal opportunities for everyone.”

Zarroug was the head of her high school’s first Black Student Association in Dubai. Her campaign emphasizes ensuring women’s safety by implementing an anonymous UTM-specific sexual harassment and assault hotline where people can seek help, and by advocating for the university to implement mandatory courses on consent and increase the number of emergency towers on campus

Zarroug also aims to advocate for the university to provide more diverse food options representing various cultures, writing that “the lack of halal, vegan and ethnic foods [at UTM] are astonishing.”

As a Sudanese immigrant with experience living in different countries, Zarroug wrote that she understands the importance of community. She plans to revitalize campus spaces like the Blind Duck, which she hopes to keep open on weekends. She also wants to introduce live music and host themed nights at the pub so students can socialize and bond.

Zarroug aims to support students affected by international events by advocating for the university to implement “more accessible extensions” and lift a policy that requires students to provide proof of death documentation when requesting an exam deferment when someone they are close to dies.