On April 11, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) held its final Board of Directors (BOD) meeting of the 2023–2024 academic year, ratifying the 2024 SCSU general elections results and the Regenesis UTSC levy. Members also increased the health and dental fees by 10 per cent.

The meeting was pushed from April 8 to April 11 due to a rare total solar eclipse that sent parts of Canada into darkness.

Ratifying election results 

During the meeting, executives approved the 2024 SCSU election results. Hunain Sindhu, Zanira Manesiya, Omar Mousa, Lalise Shifara, Rafay Malik, and Djenabou Bah — all from the IMPACT UTSC slate — will form the SCSU executive team during the 2024–2025 academic year. 

Chief Returning Officer Joselyn Lawrence presented her final election report at the meeting. She mentioned that the election went fairly smoothly and saw a higher turnout than she had anticipated.

However, the approximately 12 per cent voter turnout resulted in an unexpected problem: running short on ballots. 

“Even though it was a bit of a hiccup, we adjusted really quickly. So on the first day, we definitely underestimated the voting turnout, but after that, we started to be more on top of it,” said Lawrence in an interview with The Varsity.

Lawrence also noted some improvements the SCSU could make to the election process as a whole, such as extending the period to allow more people to vote. 

Board members also discussed the idea of changing the voting process. Some directors raised questions about whether the union should adopt an online voting system similar to that employed by the University of Toronto Students’ Union and the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union. 

Outgoing SCSU President Amrith David said that future executives could pursue instituting online voting but expressed concerns about vote tampering. 

“It’s just very easy to tamper with election results online. Whereas in person, there are certain procedures in place where we could ensure that this doesn’t happen,” David told The Varsity

He also said he wouldn’t want to take jobs away from the polling clerks and the other external staff the union hires to ensure fairness in the voting process.

“I’m aware that UTSC Governing Council and all those other different forums do online voting, so we could kind of follow their method as well and maybe find ways and systems that allow for legit voting to happen,” he said. 

The incoming executive team will begin their terms on May 1. 

Levy concerns 

Directors approved the levy for Regenesis UTSC — an environmentalism club with branches on all three campuses — that voters approved through a referendum. Starting fall 2024, full-time students will pay a fee of $7.23 per session, and part-time students will pay $3.62. The proposal also said that students could opt out of the levy. 

However, during the meeting, directors raised concerns about how Regenesis UTSC would operate an opt-out option. When the union institutes a levy, the university automatically takes the fee as part of tuition and gives the money to SCSU to distribute the levy to the intended recipient. 

Currently, the SCSU does not have the capacity to organize an opt-out system for student levies. Regenesis UTSC must provide the infrastructure to allow students to not pay the fee. 

“Regenesis has to create an opt-out option for students, because that was what was proposed at the meetings, the board meeting, and also informed the student body who ended up voting yes in favour of this referendum. So it’s not a question of if they can or not, it’s they should and they must,” said David. 

The Campus Affairs Committee will decide on a motion to approve the levy on May 6. If approved, the university will begin collecting the fee. 

Health and dental fees 

The SCSU BOD approved raising its health and dental fees by 10 per cent. 

The health portion increased from $94.16 to $103.58 per semester, and the dental portion of the plan increased from $119.01 to $130.91 per semester, resulting in a total increase from $213.17 to $234.19 per semester.

SCSU Vice-President Operations Akaash Palaparthy told The Varsity that the average cost per user — a metric used to measure how many students use the plan — increased due to the pandemic, with more students using the plan. Now GreenShield, the SCSU’s insurance provider, is asking for increased payment. 

“GreenShield has asked us to increase our premium and has now forced us to increase our premium. We don’t have a choice,” said Palaparthy. He added that originally, GreenShield wanted a 23 per cent increase, but Palaparthy reached a deal for 10 per cent. 

“The message that students need to know is that: listen, you have this plan, you’re paying for it, use it as much as possible. Go through it, there’s so many things that can be covered,” said Palaparthy. 

The SCSU also offers an opt-out option for students with their own supplementary health and dental insurance.