A roundup of 2019 college student association elections

Low voter turnout, uncontested positions mark elections period

A roundup of 2019 college student association elections

An average voter turnout of 8.7 per cent and uncontested positions across the board marked this year’s college student association elections — almost every candidate for president, or its equivalent, ran unopposed. The campaign period for the St. Michael’s College Student Union is still ongoing.

Woodsworth College Students Association

The Woodsworth College Students’ Association elections saw 305 votes cast for a voter turnout of around five per cent. Simran Sawhney won the presidential vote against Ali Aghaeinia and Shreyashi Saha. Sawhney previously served as the association’s Vice-President External and International Students Director.

The positions of Vice-President Social Affairs, Vice-President External Affairs, Vice-President Public Relations, Vice-President Athletic Affairs, Vice-President Financial Affairs, Mature Students’ Director, Associate Director of Social Affairs, Associate Director of Public Relations, Associate Director of Athletic Affairs, Off-Campus Students’ Director, Mental Health Director, Equity Director, and International Students’ Director all went uncontested.

Miloni Mehta and Andrea Chiapetta will be the Woodsworth Directors on the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Board of Directors for the upcoming academic year.

Andrew Gallant won against Victoria Barclay as Vice-President Internal Affairs. Danté Benjamin-Jackson and Katie Bolissian will serve as the Upper-Year Students’ Directors.

Trinity College Meeting

Emily Chu will serve as the Trinity College Meeting (TCM) Chair for the 2019–2020 academic year having run uncontested and receiving 91 per cent of the vote, with the rest of students voting to reopen nominations.

Secretary and Deputy Chair of the TCM will be Sterling Mancuso, who gained 46 per cent and 34 per cent of the vote respectively.

Anjali Gandhi ran uncontested for Treasurer, receiving 90 per cent of preferred votes. The TCM Auditor will be Nicholas Adolphe, who received 107 votes, beating out Mary Ngo’s 88.

Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council

The Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) elections saw 436 votes cast for a voter turnout of 13.2 per cent.

Alexa Ballis went uncontested for President, gaining 370 votes, or 85 per cent, 37 no votes, and 29 spoiled ballots.

The position of Vice-President External Affairs also went uncontested, with Vibhuti Kacholia securing 393 votes. Katie Marsland won in a landslide victory for Vice-President Internal gaining 276 votes, or 63 per cent, over Aurore Dumesnil’s 132.

Cameron Davies won the position of Vice-President Student Organizations with 232 votes, or 53 per cent, over Sayeh Yousefi. Vivian Li was elected Arts and Culture Commissioner with 239 votes, or 55 per cent, over Ashleigh Middleton. 

Positions for Academic Commissioner, Commuter Commissioner, Equity Commissioner, and Sustainability Commissioner all went uncontested, but each candidate received over 80 per cent of votes.

Thomas Siddall will serve as the Victoria College Director on the UTSU.

New College Student Council

The New College Student Council (NCSC) election saw 241 votes cast, making the voter turnout 4.8 per cent.

Manuela Zapata ran uncontested for President, receiving 189 yes votes and 32 no votes. Reinald De Leon was also uncontested for Vice-President Administration, and was able to secure 212 votes at 88 per cent.

The two positions for Athletics Commissioner were won by Diana Subron with 205 votes and Jennifer Lin with 116 votes.

The only contested position was Social Commissioner, which had six candidates for four positions, making it one of the most contested elections among all the college associations. Nicole Ng, Hannah Turcotte, Sarim Irfan, and Fion Yung won the positions over Genevieve Gottschalk and Yi Chloe Guo. 

University College Literary and Athletic Society

The University College Literary and Athletic Society elections saw a voter turnout of 8.5 per cent with 384 votes cast.

Danielle Stella won the presidency with 315 votes, while Thomas Pender won the vice-presidency for next year with 326 votes. Both positions were uncontested. Many of the other positions were contested.

The vote for Spirit & Communications Commissioner was split between five candidates, with Joshua Bienstock inching out opponents with 30 per cent of ballots cast in his favour. Sustainability Commissioner was split between three candidates, with Sophia Fan coming out on top with 149 votes, or 39 per cent.

Maureen Huang just won the two-person race for University & Academic Affairs Commissioner against Varun Lodaya, securing 182 votes. There was also a fairly high number of spoiled ballots in this election, with an average of 41 spoiled ballots for each position.

Innis College Student Society

The Innis College Student Society election saw the second-highest voter turnout at 12 per cent, with 237 ballots cast.

The positions for President, Executive Vice President, Vice-President Internal, and Vice-President Finance all went uncontested to Nancy Zhao, Paul Kaita, Winston Chan, and Janielle Palmer, respectively.

Of the seven candidates for the two Social Director positions, Breanna Lima Martinez was elected with 91 votes, alongside Tony (Shengye) Niu with 84 votes.

Editor’s Note (April 4, 2:35 pm): This article has been updated with information on VUSAC’s VP Student Organizations and Arts and Culture Commissioner elections.

Editor’s Note (May 17, 4:54 pm): This article has been updated to correct that NCSC has two positions for Athletics Commissioner and four positions for Social Commissioner.

CINSSU President claims ICSS financial report incorrect

The film club came under financial scrutiny from Innis College last year

CINSSU President claims ICSS financial report incorrect

Following a budgetary investigation conducted in the early months of 2017, Cinema Studies Student Union (CINSSU) President Sharif Wehbe discovered discrepancies in the Innis College Student Society’s (ICSS) report of CINSSU’s budget. The report, entitled “CINSSU Financial Investigation” and proposed by former ICSS President Khrystyna Zhuk on November 21, 2016, had summarized the findings of an investigation into the union’s expenses.

The investigation aimed to review the necessity of continued ICSS funding given CINSSU already receives funding from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), the Arts and Science Student Association (ASSU), and media companies such as Warner Bros., EOne, and Mongrel Media. The ICSS provides CINSSU with 4.44 per cent of its total annual revenue, collected through a levy.

The 2015–2016 academic year ICSS report stated CINSSU’s expenditure amounted to $30,637.22, which was $3,017.08 greater than CINSSU reported internally. Similarly, the 2014–2015 ICSS report stated expenditure was $27,945.65, which was $2,396.90 greater than CINSSU had reported that academic year. Wehbe claimed that the ICSS report was not verified by anyone in CINSSU who had access to the financial files. “There are many things that are either incorrect numbers or simply made up,” Wehbe alleged to The Varsity. “Expenses [on the ICSS report] such as misc and new camera are fabricated.” Wehbe claimed that the report also failed to include many events that CINSSU organized for both its students and the Innis community.

The ICSS financial report from 2015–2016 claims that, among other expenses, CINSSU spent $261.85 on alcohol, $163.93 on team bonding, $600.32 on socials, $2,344.49 on the aforementioned miscellaneous expenses, and $45.18 on the aforementioned new camera.

According to the ICSS report, 3.07 per cent of the college’s students are in the Cinema Studies program.

The ICSS report differs from CINSSU’s report with regard to revenue numbers in 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 as well. The 2015–2016 ICSS report states CINSSU received $19,248.91 in revenue, whereas CINSSU’s report states they received $20,678.91 in revenue. The 2014–2015 ICSS report states $26,772.23 in revenue, compared to CINSSU’s reported $27,943.58 in revenue.

The ICSS also reported $271.20 in levy fees paid to CINSSU in 2015–2016 and $5,821.20 in 2014–2015; CINSSU reported $0 and $5,821.20 respectively. In a written message to The Varsity, Troy Peschke, Vice-President Finance of the ICSS in 2016–2017, explained that “in 15-16 the VP Finance and CINSSU came to an agreement to reduce the contribution in that year because CINSSU felt they didnt [sic] need the full levy.”

Despite the discrepancies, current ICSS President Yolanda Alfaro wrote to The Varsity that “all of the information presented in the [ICSS] report was sought out from CINSSU’s financial documentation, as well as the Innis College registrar and the head of the Cinema Studies department.” Alfaro added that, “The CINSSU executives at that time were also consulted and were comfortable with the information that was presented.”

Peschke denied claims that the ICSS report was inaccurate. Peschke explained that the miscellaneous category in the ICSS report contained data from items that could not be placed under any other category because they were either unrelated to particular events of initiatives or CINSSU’s record entries were not detailed enough.

Wehbe stated that CINSSU does not plan to take any action regarding the recent discovery of the alleged errors in the ICSS report. He wrote, “I have informed the current [ICSS] president of the mistake and [we] are still going to continue our positive relationship.” Wehbe added, “To the best of my knowledge both CINSSU and ICSS are amenable to continue our relationship.” He also confirmed that CINSSU is in the process of digitizing its books and reports, as to avoid similar errors in the future.

Wehbe and Alfaro have engaged in several meetings over the summer to maximize the benefit of both Innis and Cinema Studies students. “We have begun the year with a very positive and open relationship between the two councils and we have every intention to continue along this path,” Alfaro wrote.

Brianne Katz-Griffin, President of ICSS during the 2016–2017 year, did not respond to comment requests from The Varsity.

  With files from Evan Maude.

Disclosure: The Varsity’s Video Editor, Shaq Hossein, was President of CINSSU during the 2016–2017 year. The Varsity’s Comment Editor, Teordora Pasca, was Vice President Internal of the ICSS during the 2016–2017 period.