Theology graduate students vote to remain in UTSU

Health and dental plan “main factor” in decision, says CRO

Theology graduate students vote to remain in UTSU

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.”

Theology graduates to hold referendum on UTSU membership

Association seeks to join graduate students’ union instead

Theology graduates to hold referendum on UTSU membership

The Toronto School of Theology Graduate Students’ Association (TGSA) will hold a referendum to decide on whether or not to leave the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) for the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU).

A ‘yes’ vote on a referendum would withdraw the TGSA from the UTSU; joining the UTGSU would be a separate process.

At a February 24 meeting, the UTSU Board of Directors passed a motion to approve the TGSA referendum. The TGSA is the only graduate student association whose members are also members of the UTSU — all other graduate student associations are a part of the UTGSU.

“Earlier this year, the TST graduate students expressed interest in leaving the UTSU for the UTGSU. We don’t represent graduate students, so we decided to allow a referendum,” UTSU President Mathias Memmel told The Varsity. The referendum also requires that the UTGSU confirm its acceptance of TGSA members by March 9.

The UTGSU represents over 18,000 students across 115 different departments. Their work consists of lobbying national and provincial issues on behalf of the students, holding community building events and campaigns. Like the UTSU, they offer various services such as health and dental insurance, advice, grants and bursaries, and access to a workout space.

U of T policy requires every student to be a member of one of the four representative student committees: the UTSU, UTGSU, Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students, or Scarborough Campus Students’ Union.

Should the referendum pass, the TGSA would withdraw from the UTSU, including the UTSU Health and Dental Plan. This plan includes health and dental, vision care, and travel insurance. It also allows students to add spouses or financially dependent children for an additional fee.

Currently, the Toronto School of Theology enrols approximately 40 graduate students. Memmel said that undergraduate theology students do not need to worry about this change. “They won’t be affected by any of this,” he said.

Editor’s Note (March 5): A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the UTMSU as a representative student committee. It is not.