Corncoming puts the corn in cornmunity

Innovation, adaptation necessary to reignite campus spirit

Corncoming puts the corn in cornmunity

While it may have started as an inside joke at a St. George Round Table (SGRT) meeting in 2017, Corncoming — U of T’s corn-themed homecoming event— is once again set to take place on October 11. 

Unlike other Ontario universities, such as Western and Queen’s, U of T homecoming is not a significant part of student culture. 

University homecomings are a tradition that celebrates the founding of the university through alumni and student events, and often start with a parade, pep rally, and an opening football game. 

U of T homecoming lacks many of these elements. For many universities, homecoming isn’t just a football game, but a fun day where the student body can socialize and meet members of the community. However, at U of T, this event focuses on celebrating Varsity athletics rather than unifying students through a campus-wide social event. 

The SGRT Corncoming is one step closer to rectifying this missed opportunity for student engagement by providing students with opportunities for involvement in student societies through a day of interactive activities and events. 

“[The mystery] adds to the intrigue of the event,” University College Literary & Athletic Society President Danielle Stella told The Varsity.

On October 11, the event will open with a Fall Festival in Sir Daniel Wilson’s quad. According to Stella, the organizers are hoping to attract passersby, since the quad sees high foot traffic in between classes. After several other events, this year’s Corncoming will conclude with a Pub Night at East of Brunswick on Spadina. 

Corncoming has been a part of U of T’s meme culture since its inception in 2017, being frequently featured in the “uoft memes for true 🅱lue teens” Facebook page. The large and impassioned online response to the event indicates that there is space for U of T to grow. Students are looking for an opportunity to build a community centred around notions of campus pride. 

The event was noticeably missing last year, and Stella noted that the intrigue and longing for the event among students makes her happy.

The purpose of this year’s Corncoming is to promote student engagement, especially in response to the Student Choice Initiative, which gives students the choice to opt out of the non-essential incidental fees that provide student-led organizations with their funding.

Such changes have had an impact on the framework of activities and campus life this year. Stella is hoping that reintroducing student unions from every faculty and college can help students develop informed decisions for the winter term opt-out period.  

The event is more than just a matter of joining a club or socializing; it is an opportunity for everyone to find their place in our community.

With more than a thousand clubs, organizations, and societies across three campuses, Corncoming will hopefully bring us one step closer to reigniting student engagement.

Paul Jerard Layug is a first-year Life Sciences student at New College.

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.

Financial statements reveal UCLit’s 2015 deficit

Increased expenses account for loss

Financial statements reveal UCLit’s 2015 deficit

According to the financial statements of the University College Literary & Athletic Society (UCLit) from April 2015, the organization was operating with a deficit by the end of the winter term.

The UCLit’s statement of operations reveals that their expenses rose by over $67,000 from 2014 to 2015. Expenses increased across the board in 2015, a $20,000 increase for services and University College-recognized clubs form the bulk of the increases. Several thousands of dollars also went into outreach, as well as literary and creative arts initiatives.

The society is largely dependent on the University of Toronto for its funding, but some revenue also comes from external sources.

In 2014, the society had $34,848 in excess revenue. A total of $210,144 in revenue came from fees and levies, events, and the Refugee Sponsorship Program. In 2015, however, $242,500 in expenses outweighed the student society’s revenue of $205,029.

Although there was an increase of several thousand dollars in revenue from Fireball, the college’s annual formal dance, and the Refugee Sponsorship Program, there was a significant drop in revenue. The figure fell from $55,124 in 2014 to $26,954 in 2015.

When compared to 2014 when there was a $30,481 increase in cash that resulted in a cash total of $53,252, records show that there was a $56,888 cash decrease in 2015.

Net assets, however, remained relatively similar from $72,237 in 2014 to $63,273 in 2015. At the end of April 2015, the assets comprised primarily the funds held in trust by U of T, a sum of $51,432 and did not include any money in the bank.

For the 2015–2016 term, the UCLit’s executives have said that they are working to ensure that the same losses do not occur.

“As for the current year, we’re ensuring that overspending does not occur, through perpetual updates to our actual spending, and ensuring all transactions are streamlined and filed in detail,” said Snow Mei, the UCLit’s current finance commissioner.

“Updating our actual expenditures as they are approved and issued ensures we can identify when specific line items go beyond the budgeted amount,” she said, adding that the UCLit’s goal is to host events and provide services to students  while maintaining a balanced budget.

According to the auditor’s report, the financial statements do not reflect the assets and liabilities of the clubs and student organizations at the UCLit, and they do not reflect the services of volunteers.