Members of the Toronto School of Theology Graduate Students’ Association (TGSA) voted in a referendum last week to remain part of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU).
The referendum was held to decide whether TGSA members would remain in the UTSU or leave to join the U of T Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU). Exactly 50 per cent of students voted to leave the UTSU for the UTGSU; the TGSA’s policies required a two-thirds majority. The turnout was 62 students, which met quorum.
The TSGA remains the only graduate students’ association that is part of the UTSU; every other graduate student group is part of the UTGSU.
Graduate students at the Toronto School of Theology (TST) are members of the UTSU alongside the rest of the TST students, the majority of whom are second-entry undergraduates. “For some time, graduate students at TST have raised the question as to whether it would be more appropriate for us to be members of UTGSU, as we are graduate students,” wrote the TGSA’s Vice-President Internal and Chief Returning Officer, Robyn Boeré.
“UTGSU provides services that are more targeted to the needs to graduate students, and would have given TGSA more representation with respect to governance,” continued Boeré, adding that the referendum was more about whether the TGSA wanted to join the UTGSU, not whether they wanted to leave the UTSU.
UTSU membership comes with a health and dental plan, which also provides vision care, travel insurance, and mental health coverage. “In my opinion, the main factor that contributed to the decision to stay in UTSU was the health/dental plan, specifically the mental health coverage,” wrote Boeré.
UTSU President Mathias Memmel said the UTSU does not have “any special arrangements in place for TST students, but when we lobby the government and the administration we do so on issues that we feel benefit all students, including those in professional programs.”