Once again, tensions ran high at the monthly Board of Directors meeting for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). Directors confronted executives about bad communication and discussed motions to force the resignations of 11 directors under Bylaw X.
Ongoing negotiations to separate from the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), the resignation of one director, and the hiring of another to fill the vacancy were also discussed.
Accusations over miscommunication
Academic Director of Social Sciences Joshua Bowman accused Vice-President Equity Ammara Wasim of falsifying her July Executive Report, which detailed the work she completed that month.
In the report, Wasim claimed that she sent a Google Form to “more than twenty U of T-based equity focused clubs” in order “to spread the word on the Equity collectives and get more students to join.” An equity collective is an advocacy group that discusses issues of social justice.
“I would like to encourage the VP Equity to not blatantly lie,” said Bowman. “I have my inbox in front of me right now — a contact was never made to [the Indigenous Studies Students’ Union (ISSU)]. I’d suggest against doing that in the future.”
But Bowman, citing his position as the President of the ISSU, insisted that “it’s not enough to say that you’re going to reach out to them and not reaching out at all.”
“If we want to bring these voices to the table that have been disenfranchised, you have to do more of the legwork as the UTSU.”
Chair Billy Graydon recommended Bowman “avoid direct accusations against other members of the assembly,” as “usually these things are misunderstandings.”
Wasim later found records indicating that she did indeed send the materials. She identified the source of the conflict as an unintentional mix-up between email addresses for the Centre for Indigenous Studies and the ISSU. According to Wasim, the incorrect email address appears in the first Google result for the query, “Indigenous Students Student Union email.”
Wasim added that “instead of waiting a whole month to accuse someone, it might have been wise to just reach out.”
Bowman clarified that he had emailed President Anne Boucher earlier, which Boucher confirmed, but followed with an apology for his earlier statements: “I believe I overstepped by using the word ‘liar’ and I’d like to apologize for that.”
Attempts to invoke Bylaw X
Also on the agenda were motions to force the resignations of 11 directors, as allowed under Bylaw X. Chengye Yang, one of New College’s three UTSU directors, voluntarily sent in a letter of resignation.
According to Section 2 of the union’s Bylaw X, a Division I or II director “shall be deemed to have delivered their resignation, confirmed by a simple majority vote of the Board” whenever said member has failed to send regrets for two missed meetings, failed to attend three consecutive meetings or any four meetings regardless of sent regrets, or failed to attend any three committee meetings.
During the discussion, Bowman noted that absence should not be conflated with a lack of work outside of meetings.
After spending 30 minutes of its two-hour meeting discussing whether or not to force the resignations of the remaining 10 directors, it was decided that the board would adopt a more lenient interpretation of the bylaw and be more tolerant of absences in the summer. As such, the board determined that the 10 motions were out of order.
Immediately after, the directors voted to accept Yang’s resignation. Graydon mentioned that positions left vacant at this time could be put up for by-election.
The UTSU also went in camera to discuss their negotiations to separate from the UTMSU. In camera meetings only allow board members to sit in. The UTMSU delegation, which holds seven appointed positions on the UTSU board, left voluntarily.
A motion from Innis College Director Lucas Granger to hold the October board meeting at UTMSU failed, due in part to conflicts with midterm exams. According to the UTSU’s bylaws, the board must hold at least one meeting per session at UTM.
The UTSU also hired a new Faculty Director of Law, Alexandra Hergaarden Robertson.