U of T’s Governing Council released the official results of its student election on Friday. Eight students have been elected to serve one-year terms on the Governing Council, which is made up of 50 members.
This year’s election saw low voter turnout, consistent with a downward trend that has plagued recent Governing Council elections despite a growing student population, according to The Varsity’s analysis. Looking over the past 10 years of Governing Council elections, The Varsity tracked election patterns and votes for students elected to U of T’s highest governing body.
Full-time undergraduate representatives for the Faculty of Arts & Science
The two representatives for full-time undergraduates students in the Faculty of Art & Science are Marium Nur Vahed of Trinity College and Vishar Yaghoubian of Woodsworth College. These newly-elected governors received 220 and 213 votes, respectively.
Out of the remaining 20 students who ran in this category, five were within a 100 vote margin of the frontrunner Vahed, with two of those candidates within the 30 vote margin.
Winners in this category have seen declining vote counts since 2017 — the two governors that year were elected with 1057 and 636 votes each. This year, the successful candidates won with the lowest number of votes seen in the past decade.
This election also had the lowest total number of votes cast among all candidates in this category since 2010. Between 2010 and 2020, the average total vote count was 3,904, making this year’s total 46 per cent lower than average, at 2,117 individual votes cast. Since students in this constituency can vote for up to two candidates, the actual number of students who participated in this election is likely over-represented in the vote count. According to university data for the 2018 academic year, there were over 25,000 full-time undergraduate students enrolled in the Faculty of Arts & Science.
With the election of Vahed, this marks the seventh year since 2010 in which a Trinity College student has been elected to represent this constituency. 2020 and 2017 have been the only years this past decade in which a student from either UTM or UTSC did not win a position in this category.
Yaghoubian is the first Woodsworth College student to be elected to this position since at least 2010. No Innis College or St. Michael’s College students have been in this role for at least a decade.
2020 and 2019 were the only years since 2010 in which the full-time undergraduate representatives for the Faculty of Arts & Science students were both women. There has been one man and one woman in these roles for four terms, with the remaining five years having both governor positions filled by men.
Full-time undergraduate representatives for the professional faculties
Full-time undergraduate students in professional faculties will be represented by Diana Li from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and Stephane Martin Demers from the Faculty of Music. The former received 106 votes, and the latter 92 votes. Martin Demers was elected despite coming in third based on vote totals. According to 2018 data, there are just under 13,000 full-time undergraduate students in professional faculties.
The second-place candidate, Charlie Chen, received 97 votes — however, he is also a Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering student.
In order to ensure diverse representation, Section 9.3 of the 2020 Election Guidelines prevents the election of governors in the same faculty or school for the same constituency. Since Li was the frontrunner, the second governor position was won by the candidate with the most votes who wasn’t affiliated with the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.
Section 9.3 has been invoked four times this decade. Three out of the four instances of its use has been within the professional faculties constituency including two engineering students and one law student. The only time it has been used outside of the professional faculties constituency in this decade came in 2010 when two Trinity College students were passed over in favour of electing a UTSC student.
All professional faculty representatives since 2010 have come from the faculties of Applied Science & Engineering, with six governors; Law, with six governors; Pharmacy, with four governors; or Medicine, with four governors.
This year and 2016 are the only years in which a Faculty of Music student has been elected in this constituency over the past decade. However, both times this has occurred was due to an invocation of section 9.3 disqualifying another candidate with a higher vote count.
In this decade, the two governor positions for professional faculty undergraduates students have never been occupied by two women. Both positions were filled by men in seven academic terms, and the remaining four terms saw a man and a woman in these roles.
The professional faculty representative elections have also seen declining voter numbers. While this year’s combined vote total across all candidates, at 677, did increase from last year, it is still consistent with a downward trend since 2010. That year, the combined vote total was 2,111 — the highest of this decade.
With an average vote count of 899 per election for the professional faculty governor positions, this year’s turn out is 25 per cent lower than average.
Representatives for part-time undergraduates
The two positions for part-time undergraduate representatives were won in an uncontested election by Susan Froom of Trinity College and Olivia Batt of Woodsworth College. While both of these governors are incumbents, Froom has served on the Governing Council in this position since 2014. In the seven times she has been elected, she has won uncontested five times. As there have been 22 governors in the part-time undergraduate constituency since 2010, Froom has filled 32 per cent of all part-time undergraduate governor positions this decade.
This category of the Governing Council elections has the highest number of uncontested races. Since 2010, 13 governors have been acclaimed to their roles due to a lack of other candidates. In all but one of these instances, the uncontested election was for the part-time undergraduate constituency. The only time a representative was acclaimed outside of this category was in 2012, when a governor won uncontested in the graduate students constituency for physical sciences and life sciences.
Nine of the 13 acclamations since 2010 saw governor positions remain in the hands of an incumbent, with the past four part-time undergraduate elections for the Governing Council won through acclamation and one governor position filled in a by-election. Controlling for uncontested elections, the average vote count across candidates in the part-time undergraduate constituency election was 239 votes. When compared to 2018 enrolment data, and considering that vote counts over-represent voters, the voter turnout rate is considerably low, as there are over 6,000 part-time undergraduate students.
The representatives for part-time undergraduate students have the highest election rate for women of any category. In the past decade, six terms have seen two women governors and five terms of one man and one woman filling the positions.
Representatives for graduates
Amassing 149 votes, Ada Adanna Chigbo from the Faculty of Information will represent graduate students in the humanities and social sciences. Amin Kameleddin from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering will be the new student governor for graduate students in physical sciences and life sciences. Kameleddin won with the most votes in any category of this election, with 523 ballots cast in his favour.
Unlike the other student constituencies, graduate students only vote for one candidate, making vote counts match the number of students voting. According to 2018 data, there are over 19,000 graduate students across both constituencies.
Since 2010, the graduate constituency representing physical sciences and life sciences and the constituency representing the humanities and social sciences have both seen an upward trend in voter participation throughout the decade — the only constituencies to do so. However, on average, the election for the physical sciences and life sciences category draws about 100 more voters than the elections for the humanities and social sciences category — with 466 and 368 average total votes, respectively.
For both graduate constituencies, there have been six men and five women in governor positions since 2010.