UTGSU Annual General Meeting addresses safety concerns, debates legitimacy of BDS committee

Motion to condemn Jewish Defense League passed, financial statements approved

UTGSU Annual General Meeting addresses safety concerns, debates legitimacy of BDS committee

The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) Annual General Meeting (AGM) was readjourned on January 27 after failing to meet quorum on December 5. It addressed a number of motions pertaining to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign, including a motion by the committee to ban the Jewish Defense League (JDL) from campus and a motion by a member to oppose the BDS committee altogether.

The wider BDS movement lobbies corporations, universities, and local governments to sanction the Israeli government and boycott Israeli goods to protest the country’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Some critics of BDS argue that the movement aims to delegitimize Israeli sovereignty, while others characterize the movement and its leadership as anti-Semitic. Previously, the UTGSU Executive Committee was accused of anti-Semitism when it was hesitant to participate in Hillel UofT’s Kosher Forward campaign — which aimed to bring kosher food options to campus — on the grounds that the group was pro-Israel. This subsequently led to the resignation of External Commissioner Maryssa Barras, a position which has yet to be filled.

Members of the BDS committee explained that the JDL, which the Canadian Anti-Hate Network has called an “anti-Muslim group on the extreme fringe of the Jewish community,” has disrupted BDS events in the past, and remains a safety threat to members of the committee.

As an indicator of the JDL’s threat level, BDS committee members highlighted an instance of violence by the JDL against individuals protesting a November 20 event which featured Israeli Defense Force reservists at York University.

The JDL had put out a call to disrupt the UTGSU AGM; however, no such disruptions took place.

A motion was passed at the meeting that stated that the “UTGSU membership condemns the JDL violence against York University student protestors and their allies on November 20,” and moved that the UTGSU membership put out a call to the U of T administration to ban JDL from campus.

An attempt by a member to amend the motion to not specify JDL, but rather oppose “all terrorist organizations” from campus was rejected by the membership.

The meeting began with a controversial motion by the Chair, Jeremy Rothschild, to strike the discussion on anti-Semitism; the discussion on BD; and the discussion on sanctions, divestment, or boycotts, from the agenda due to the fact that the meeting fell on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. He said that members should not have to “relive what their families [experienced] and the sort of discussions that surround the question of anti-Semitism on campus.”

Rothschild felt that the membership as a collective should have the right to decide whether it wanted to engage in such discussions on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The membership rejected Rothschild’s motion to strike the motions, and thus they were kept on the agenda.

However, by the time the AGM arrived at the member’s motion opposing the BDS committee, only six minutes remained in the UTGSU’s booked time for the room. Chaim Katz, the mover, briefly explained his motion, noting that, “This is an opportunity to maintain a stance, of being active in human rights support, but not only singling out the Jewish state,” before the meeting was adjourned.

Internal Commissioner Adam Hill told The Varsity that the unaddressed motions can only be revisited at the next UTGSU AGM. The meeting also saw the UTGSU’s financial statements passed and next auditor approved by the membership.

UTGSU to discuss anti-Semitism at Annual General Meeting follow-up

Union at risk of financial default if quorum not reached

UTGSU to discuss anti-Semitism at Annual General Meeting follow-up

The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) will be re-adjourning its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on January 27 after failing to meet quorum on December 5. If the UTGSU does not reach quorum it may be at risk of not passing its audited financial statements from the previous year and thus defaulting to the university.

The union plans to continue its discussion on anti-Semitism, hear reports from various committees, and address motions from members.

Long debates on anti-Semitism at last AGM

Despite not achieving quorum at its AGM on December 5, the UTGSU went ahead with item five on its agenda: a discussion on anti-Semitism at U of T.

This discussion took place after a UTGSU commissioner expressed reluctance to support Hillel UofT’s Kosher Forward Campaign on the grounds that Hillel is a pro-Israel organization. The campaign was created to lobby for kosher food options on campus.

The seriousness of the issues up for discussion was not forgotten, with three campus police officers standing by while members filed in to register. 

Senior Director of Hillel UofT, Rob Nagus, read out a prepared statement to the membership which alleged that anti-Semitism at the UTGSU extends beyond its controversy over the Kosher Forward Campaign. Nagus claimed that the response of the former external commissioner, who had refused to address the Kosher Forward Campaign in an executive motion, “reflects a deep-seated culture of systemic anti-Semitism.”

Nagus also noted that “the UTGSU’s inability to separate Jewish students from the actions of the Israeli government and [the] lack of understanding about Zionism’s multifaceted role in Jewish communal history… is a grave concern to Hillel.”

Alex, a member of the group Independent Jewish Voices, responded to Nagus, asserting that the “conflation of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, Judaism, and Zionism” is a wrongful one.

“If the UTGSU is interested in addressing anti-Semitism in any meaningful way, I would encourage them to do so outside of purely speaking with Hillel,” Alex said, noting that Hillel International’s mandate bars partnership with or hosting groups that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Also in the December discussion, Chaim Grafstein, the Kosher Forward Campaign lead who submitted the motion to the UTGSU, cited the implementation of Kosher Forward as a “concrete [step]” toward addressing anti-Semitism on campus.

Grafstein pointed out that if one searches the UTSG food map, Hillel is currently the only spot that offers kosher food. “So this is an opportunity to provide kosher food also to students who choose to actively dissociate with Hillel.”

Grafstein also thanked Hillel for the opportunity to work on the Kosher Forward campaign “despite some of [his] political views.”

The UTGSU did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment on how they would structure the discussion on anti-Semitism at the re-adjournment of their AGM.

On January 23, Hillel UofT successfully lobbied the university to provide kosher options on campus.

Motions by members

Among the motions for the upcoming AGM is a proposal to revisit a motion from a September meeting that annulled the memorandum agreement between the UTGSU and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Graduate Students’ Association (OISE GSA).

The September motion itself was moved after an investigation found 20 constitutional violations in the OISE GSA’s April elections, and ultimately resulted in the OISE GSA’s disaffiliation as a course union, a loss in funding, and a loss of seats on the Board of Directors and General Council.

Also on the table is a motion that asks the membership to express opposition to “any program of sanctions, divestment or boycotts targeting any country, nationality, ethnic group or identity in particular” and instead boycott, divest, and sanction based on “objective criteria.”

This motion appears to be explicitly targeting the UTGSU’s BDS Committee, who will also be presenting its report at the AGM. The BDS movement urges corporations, universities, and local governments to boycott Israel in protest of its occupation of Palestinian territory and treatment of Palestinians.

Graduate Students’ Union accused of anti-Semitism in kosher food dispute

UTGSU formally apologizes after criticisms from Jewish campus group Hillel UofT

Graduate Students’ Union accused of anti-Semitism in kosher food dispute

The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) is facing allegations of anti-Semitism for its original reluctance to support the Kosher Forward campaign, an initiative by Hillel UofT to bring kosher food to campus. Hillel UofT, a prominent Jewish organization on campus, has criticized the union for “conflating the Jewish fight for kosher food with [its] support of the Jewish state.” The UTGSU has since apologized and External Commissioner Maryssa Barras resigned on November 21 in the midst of the dispute.

Hillel criticizes the UTGSU

The controversy began when a UTGSU Board of Directors member reached out to Barras to ask if the UTGSU Executive Committee would present an Executive Motion at its upcoming General Council meeting in support of the Kosher Forward campaign. The response given by Barras, according to the UTGSU’s statement, “mistakenly… insinuated that the UTGSU Executive Committee might be reluctant to bring the motion forward to the UTGSU General Council/Board-of-Directors as a result of Hillel being ‘pro-Israel.’”

However, in her response Barras also directed the member to other avenues to submit the motion, according to the UTGSU’s statement.

In its press release, Hillel condemned the conflation of Israel and all Jewish issues as a form of anti-Semitism.

Responding to Hillel’s press release, the UTGSU wrote on November 17 that the original comments were “not on behalf of the UTGSU’s executive committee,” and stated that it provided the student with an avenue to submit the motion through the Equity and Advocacy Committee.

Hillel’s central complaint with the UTGSU’s apology was that it did not “address the anti-Semitic nature of their original response.”

This is not the first time that the UTGSU and Hillel have been in conflict. Last February, the UTGSU enacted a permanent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Committee on Israel, leading Hillel to comment that they were “very disappointed” with the decision.

UTGSU external commissioner resigns

After representatives from both Hillel and the UTGSU met for discussions, the UTGSU announced in a November 21 press release that Barras had submitted her resignation. The press release notes that the resignation was due to “the anti-Semitic comments written regarding the Kosher Forward Campaign.”

The UTGSU “[recognizes] that this incident reveals a larger issue of anti-Semitism and discrimination,” also noting that the Executive Committee will undergo anti-oppression training in order to address anti-Semitism in their organization.

After the resignation press release, Hillel wrote that it is “grateful” that the UTGSU has expressed a “willingness to bring forward a motion to support the Kosher Forward campaign,” and suggested the possibility of the two groups working together to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Kosher Forward

Hillel represents U of T’s Jewish student population, which is estimated at 1,000–1,500 students. It started the Kosher Forward petition for greater access to kosher food on campus, led by students Sofia Freudenstein and Chaim Grafstein.

Grafstein said that the motivation behind the project was “this sense that as a Jewish student on campus you have to ask for a lot in order to get kosher food, and you feel this huge burden to make a case for yourself wanting or needing kosher food.”

Grafstein said that he wanted to get involved in the cause when he was invited to a conference held by his department, which he claims did not provide kosher food for those who required it. “And there was a noticeable group of people who kind of felt excluded, because they just couldn’t eat anything.”

Currently, students who keep kosher have no options for kosher food in residence meal plans or from U of T-run food vendors on campus. There are no kosher meal plans in the residence system, and students who keep kosher cannot share a kitchen that is not kept kosher. In the meantime, Hillel has been filling the need for kosher food by providing access to kosher dinners during the week and kosher snacks in its office.

“Their time on campus is marked by food uncertainty,” reads the petition’s description of students who keep kosher, noting that many other universities provide more kosher options than U of T.

As the campaign ended on November 23, the petition and its signatures were sent to the Office of the President, with whom Hillel is requesting a meeting in order to discuss the petition. Although Grafstein noted that the petition already has a few hundred signatures, he emphasized that “It’s an issue of accessibility, not an issue of numbers.”

Community response

Freudenstein and Grafstein expressed their disappointment at the campaign being politicized: “I very much care about the kosher campaign and saw it as a non-partisan issue,” said Freudenstein. “This kind of exploding — I just didn’t sign up for this.”

Grafstein commented that as a graduate student, he felt that the UTGSU’s apology was lacking. “At the beginning of [UTGSU] meetings there’s an equity statement that’s read [and] included in that is anti-Semitism, so to see a statement and an apology that doesn’t even use the word anti-Semitism and instead uses phrases like ‘harmful toward Jewish students at U of T… is really hurtful and it feels like my participation in equity in the UTGSU is compromised as a Jewish student.”

In an email from the UTGSU Executive Committee, which was sent on November 25, the group wrote that Barras’ resignation was her own decision and that “the UTGSU has not taken a stance on the Kosher Forward Campaign, as was mentioned in the initial email response as well as in the public memo. The UTGSU Executive Committee has contacted Hillel representatives, and is looking forward to continuing dialogue with them.”

A university spokesperson wrote in a statement to The Varsity that the UTGSU is an “autonomous student organization that acts independently from the University of Toronto.”

The UTGSU “[is] required by university policy to operate in an open, accessible and democratic manner and to allow a diversity of perspectives to be heard. We have written to the group to remind them of this obligation,” noted the spokesperson.

The university also expressed willingness to discuss the campaign and explore further options for kosher food on campus in an email to The Varsity.

The University of Toronto Students’ Union, representing undergraduate students, released a statement in support of the petition.

Barras declined The Varsity’s request for comment.

Editor’s Note (November 25, 5:17 pm): This article has been updated to include comment from the UTGSU Executive Committee. It has also been updated to correct that there are no other vacancies on the executive committee other than the external commissioner.

Social Justice Education caucus breaks off from OISE Graduate Students’ Association

Dissociation the result of UTGSU investigation into constitutional violations of OISE GSA

Social Justice Education caucus breaks off from OISE Graduate Students’ Association

The Social Justice Education (SJE) Student Caucus has decided to break away from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Graduate Students’ Association (OISE GSA), following findings of constitutional violations. The SJE Student Caucus is now a course union under the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU), which recognized the caucus on October 29.

The SJE course union represents students at the Department of SJE, which is part of OISE.

Dissociation of the association

The UTGSU Executive Committee confirmed to The Varsity that “The SJE Student Caucus reached out to inquire about all possibilities for their fellow members in early October.”

Nolan Fontaine, the SJE Student Caucus’ Internal Coordinator, explained in an interview that the dissociation followed an online referendum among SJE students. The referendum, which occurred that month, showed that a majority of voters wanted to form their own course union with the UTGSU, according to Fontaine.

When asked about the motivation behind the dissociation, Fontaine said that the conclusions of the UTGSU’s investigatory committee that examined the matter were “pretty glaring in terms of constitutional violations.”

The committee found 20 constitutional violations in the OISE GSA’s April elections. As a result, the UTGSU General Council voted to de-affiliate the OISE GSA from the UTGSU in a meeting on September 27.

According to the UTGSU’s documentation, “the OISE GSA executives individually submitted [their] resignations as of October 1st, 2019.”

What does this mean for Social Justice Education students?

In an email to The Varsity, the UTGSU Executive Committee wrote that the “SJE Caucus, like all other course unions, is eligible to receive funding [from the UTGSU] in the form of a head grant.” Head grants are funds distributed by the UTGSU to its recognized course unions and are paid by the annual fees collected from graduate students.

It continued, “[The SJE course union] will also be represented on the UTGSU General Council/Board-of-Directors; the SJE course union will have three seats (votes) on the board of directors as per UTGSU Bylaw.” Fontaine noted that an additional advantage for the SJE Caucus following this move was increased autonomy for its group. However, he said that he is not personally opposed to the OISE GSA.

“Course unions and departmental student associations are more of a community for a lot of students,” he remarked. “For us to just turn our backs, just on the actions of… a few [executives], doesn’t help the greater [student body] from a utilitarianist sense.”

“We really just want to move forward [with a] clean slate, and really see [to the needs of our] students and constituents.”

The Varsity has reached out to the OISE GSA for comment.

Divisional court strikes down Ford government’s Student Choice Initiative

YFS, CFS–O, UTGSU win legal challenge against postsecondary ministry

Divisional court strikes down Ford government’s Student Choice Initiative

In a unanimous decision, the Divisional Court of Ontario ruled in favour of student groups in a legal challenge over the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) — a directive from the province’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) that allowed students to opt out of certain incidental fees. The Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS–O) announced today that its legal challenge of the SCI was successful, deeming the mandate unlawful.

In its application for judicial review, filed on May 24, the CFS–O and the York Federation of Students (YFS) claim that the MTCU breached the legal principles of procedural fairness and natural justice by failing to meaningfully consult student groups on the SCI. 

The YFS and the CFS–O, represented by Goldblatt Partners LLP, and the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) as an intervenor, represented by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, argued in front of the Divisional Court in October that the ministry was overstepping its authority in its implementation of the SCI and alleged that the initiative was specifically designed to target student associations.

The CFS–O also released a statement, saying: “Today the Ontario Divisional Court has confirmed what students already knew: The Student Choice Initiative is unlawful, and the Ford government acted beyond their authority.” Kayla Weiler, Ontario representative of the CFS, continues: “Doug Ford’s attempt to wipe out students’ unions under the guise of giving students ‘choice’ has been exposed for what it really was: an attempt to silence his opposition.”

The Varsity has reached out to the MTCU for comment.

This story is developing, more to come. 

Editor’s Note (November 21, 7:24pm): This article has been updated to reflect the UTGSU’s role and representation in the legal challenge, and the Ontario CFS’ statement.

UTGSU General Council meeting discusses SCI, onsite mental health counselor

Outgoing finance commissioner on incidental fees: “not necessarily what you thought you were paying for”

UTGSU General Council meeting discusses SCI, onsite mental health counselor

In a recent Board of Directors meeting, the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) addressed holdover items from its September board meeting.

Branden Rizzuto the outgoing UTGSU finance commissioner whose resignation will take effect on November 1 gave a report on how many students opted out of the UTGSU’s fees, in accordance with the province’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI). The SCI allows students to opt out of incidental fees deemed “non-essential.”

The UTGSU’s mean fall 2019 opt-out rate for full-time students, across all optional fee categories, was 17.48 per cent and 25.95 per cent for part-time students.

“We’re actually in pretty decent shape,” said Rizzuto. He noted that he had planned for a “variety of revenue loss scenarios,” even considering opt-out rates of 70 per cent. “What is actually more of a threat to us, is not the overall revenue loss… but it’s that the University of Toronto has used the SCI to limit our financial autonomy.”

The UTGSU’s fees are separated into a number of optional fees categories which constrains the way the union can spend its money. Funds raised in one area, like “academic support,” cannot be used for any other purpose. Rizzutto explained that the university has determined where “80 per cent” of the UTGSU’s funding will go because of this categorization of fees.

Before the UTGSU was aware of how many students opted out of its fees, it proposed changes to its funding structure in anticipation of a significant drop in its budget. The first of the motions would have introduced a linear model for department head grants. This would have jeopardized the funding of small departments, and so another motion was proposed that would have evened out the distribution of funds to small departments.

After some debate, both motions failed. Members expressed that because the opt-out rates were manageable, they preferred to revert back to the original funding model.

When asked why the proposed linear model had two different sources of funding, Rizzuto responded, “The University of Toronto misled everyone and put hidden fees in all of the fee categories.” For graduate students paying their incidental fees, Rizzuto described the fee structure as being “not necessarily what you thought you were paying for.”

He explained that one of the UTGSU’s essential fees, “academic support,” contained within it a $4.87 fee that had to be used for department head grants. This is despite the fact that there is a department head grant fee within the UTGSU’s levies that was deemed non-essential. For this specific section of the budget, part of the funding was deemed essential, while the remainder was subject to student choice.

The UTGSU also passed a motion to increase mental health services for its members. “This is a little bit prompted by recent events, but this actually is a conversation that’s been ongoing between myself and the finance commissioner,” said Sophie McGibbon-Gardner. Due to Rizzuto’s resignation, McGibbon-Gardner was appointed Vice Chair Finance Committee at the meeting.

“We kind of have a vision of providing a service that is impossible to implement by administration, and that would be having an onsite mental health support system that is integrated into the GSU,” continued McGibbon-Gardner. She added that a lengthy consultation process to identify the needs of the GSU membership would be the first step in this process.

Rizzuto spoke in favour of the motion, saying that the UTGSU had enough funding for the proposal. Last year, the UTGSU added five dollars to their Health and Dental Administration fee. “We have the funds, I estimate that we might have upward of $100,000 to put toward these types of initiatives.”

Rizzuto was also appointed head of the UTGSU legal ad hoc committee.

UTGSU Finance Commissioner announces November resignation

General Council votes to de-affiliate with OISE GSA at September meeting

UTGSU Finance Commissioner announces November resignation

During a lengthy General Council meeting on September 27, University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) Finance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto resigned from his position effective November 1.

At the same meeting, following extensive debate, the council voted to de-affiliate with the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE) Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) on the recommendation of the UTGSU’s Ad-hoc Committee after it found 20 constitutional violations in April’s GSA elections.

Rizzuto’s resignation

“It is my personal opinion that the UTGSU has, for quite some time, suffered from a lack of accountability in its internal operations,” said Rizzuto, announcing the end of his fourth term as an executive elected to the union.

The commissioner cited an inability to continue properly executing his duties due to “multiple personnel and bodies in the UTGSU [neglecting] their duties and responsibilities for excessive periods of time.” He further described an inequitable and unsustainable workload. With the developments of the UTGSU’s legal challenge against the Ford government, and the Student Choice Initiative, Rizzuto intends to remain until November 1 to ensure that particular duties are fulfilled before his departure.

“I feel that, while I have made earnest attempts to address and resolve the issues I have stated in this letter, I have ultimately remained unsuccessful,” concluded Rizzuto, who read from a letter. Council members thanked Rizzuto for his work, but also sought to know more about his allegations — to which Rizzuto also declined to specifically name any individuals.

The Finance Commissioner position will be filled through a process voted on by General Council, which will be held at a future Council meeting, according to an email from the UTGSU Executive Committee.

Rizzuto and the Executive Committee declined to comment on the announcement.

De-affiliating with the OISE GSA

On the recommendation of the Ad-hoc Course Union Investigation Committee (adCUIC), General Council voted to de-affiliate with the OISE GSA, following an investigation that found a total of 20 constitutional violations in the April GSA elections. Out of four recommendations made by the adCUIC, the union passed the only punitive measure in the last 30 minutes of the meeting. Heated debate preceded the vote, which saw disagreement between advocates for de-affiliation and concerns from members that felt they did not know enough to vote.

Effective from the time of the council’s vote, OISE GSA’s four representatives on General Council are no longer allowed to vote; they do not have representation on council in any course union, but all students will remain UTGSU members with access to the union’s services.

Desiree Sylvestre, on behalf of the outgoing OISE GSA executives, wrote to The Varsity in an email: “The issues we are presented with at the OISE GSA are multi-layered and complex, involving different approaches and expectations regarding the priorities and style of student governance.”

While the UTGSU Executive Committee abstained from the vote to de-affiliate, Sylvestre maintains that the Committee did not reach out to mediate following the election investigation. The outgoing GSA executives also alleged that the Committee “exponentially aggravated” tensions when suggesting that the GSA rejoin the union as a course union, which would cut down the amount of union dues that the GSA collects from its members through the UTGSU. The UTGSU Executive Committee asserts that its members “[remain] pointedly separate from any discussions happening internally at OISE or elsewhere within the University.”

Sylvestre concluded, “I am truly disappointed in the UTGSU, they operate in a punitive environment with no hope for solidarity. My hope is that OISE students will become more involved and take steps to successfully challenge the systems that exist within the UTGSU, beginning with their Executive Elections.”

Due to only getting through a quarter of the agenda items for the September 24 meeting, the next General Council meeting will occur before the October 29, according to the Executive Committee.

Graduate Students’ Union investigating OISE elections

Executives report on mental health advocacy, freeze honoraria in anticipation of funding cuts

Graduate Students’ Union investigating OISE elections

An investigatory committee was commissioned by the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) to evaluate the integrity of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Graduate Students’ Association (OISE GSA) elections, during a UTGSU General Council meeting on April 23.

The committee’s mandate is to assess whether the OISE GSA violated its constitution, following the alleged firing of its Chief Returning Officer (CRO), according to a GSU member at the meeting. The CRO is responsible for overseeing elections.

Five council members volunteered to join the committee, which is authorized to assess the possible constitutional violation until June 1.

According to a UTGSU representative who spoke at the meeting, the committee lacks the power to compel testimony through subpoena. However, it does have the ability to interview witnesses willing to testify, review meeting minutes of the OISE GSA, and present an assessment to the Council on whether the OISE GSA violated its constitution.

In an email to The Varsity, the OISE GSA Executive wrote that they “never had doubts about the integrity of following the elections process as outlined by [their] Constitution.”

The Executive noted that their elections had not begun by the time of the General Council meeting when these allegations of election fraud were brought forward, and that they are following regulations set by its Constitution to “re-set the Elections process.”

The UTGSU Executive Committee verified that the committee was struck before having a chance to “invite and receive a statement by the [OISE GSA] Executive and Council,” but also wrote that it believed it would be “inappropriate for the UTGSU Executive to ask the OISE GSA for a statement prior to the striking of the committee, as this would have constituted the beginning of an investigation.”

UTGSU executives also report on advocacy work towards expanding mental health services

External Commissioner Cristina Jaimungal also reported on work by the executive team on responding to U of T’s mental health crisis.

Jaimungal spoke on the launch of the first webpage specific for U of T graduate students to access mental health resources, which has received 5,000 visits so far. She also reported on the addition of a graduate-specific accessibility counselor at the School of Graduate Studies, as well as the expansion of a bursary to allow part-time professional students access to U of T gyms over the summer.

UTGSU executives further vote to freeze honoraria increases, following cuts due to Student Choice Initiative

Finance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto also introduced a motion drafted by the executives to freeze their own honoraria.

Rizzuto explained that the executive honoraria has been tied to a CUPE 3902, Unit 1 Collective Agreement, which has caused the executive honoraria to rise with increases of Teaching Assistant wages. CUPE 3902 is a union for U of T education workers.

The honoraria were slated to increase by two per cent the following year. However, in anticipation of funding cuts to the UTGSU as a result of the Ontario government’s Student Choice Initiative, the executives introduced the motion to cancel the raise and freeze their honoraria.

The motion passed in a vote by members of the General Council.