Graduate Students’ Union elects new Internal Commissioner, grants temporary unconditional media access

Approval of draft financial statements proves contentious, quorum for special meeting lowered

Graduate Students’ Union elects new Internal Commissioner, grants temporary unconditional media access

Media access and the organization’s financial transparency were major topics of discussion at the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union’s (UTGSU) General Council meeting on January 22.

Political Science student appointed new Internal Commissioner

The General Council voted to elect Justin Patrick, a first-year master’s candidate in the Department of Political Science, as the UTGSU’s new Internal Commissioner (IC). The move comes after the previous IC, Lynne Alexandrova, was pushed out of office at a November 26 council meeting. The Executive Committee alleged that she had not been fulfilling her duties.

According to UTGSU executives, Alexandrova did not circulate a report on her ongoing activities before an executive meeting on October 16, in contradiction of the organization’s bylaws. Alexandrova told The Varsitylast year that she had released her report before the November 15 meeting.

Following Alexandrova’s removal, UTGSU Executive-at-Large Maryssa Barras was appointed interim IC until the January by-election. Barras also served as the chair of the January 22 meeting, following the resignation of previous chair Evan Rosevear due to academic commitments.

Patrick ran against Nicholas Lindsay, a first-year master’s student in the Faculty of Information. Following short speeches, in which Lindsay promised to support the incumbent executives, and Patrick campaigned on making “sure the students see us as legitimate,” the initial vote resulted in a tie. After a re-vote was conducted, Patrick was announced the winner.

Earlier in the meeting, UTGSU executives read a statement on recent events involving Alexandrova. The executives alleged that Alexandrova continued to use office keys to access resources and engage in “confrontation” with student union staff members, despite having been removed from office. Furthermore, they alleged that Alexandrova had contacted a law firm asking to procure its services, and that they felt it was their “fiduciary duty” to inform the General Council of this, although no charges were incurred as the law firm contacted the UTGSU for verification.

In response, Alexandrova said she had returned the keys “very, very gently” after the November 26 council meeting and had emailed people to inform them of the change in office. Alexandrova asked executives for more details on the alleged “confrontation,” but staff members declined to comment in public because it was a human resources issue. Alexandrova said that the only person she recalled encountering in the office was UTGSU Executive Director David Eaton, but she was cut off by the speaker and executives after this statement.

General Council votes to grant media temporary unconditional access to meetings

Media policy was another major point of discussion at the council meeting. Although it was a separate agenda item, it became a topic of debate at the start of the meeting because members of The Varsity had to be seated by the meeting’s chair, then granted speaking rights by the council.

Separate motions were also passed to allow The Varsity to photograph and live tweet the events of the meeting, both of which were subject to debate.

This comes after Varsity reporters were kicked out of the UTGSU’s December General Council meeting for live tweeting the events of the meeting at the direction of their editors, contradicting a ruling from the chair against live tweeting.

The Varsity was granted permission to photograph the events of the evening, as long as members present were able to opt out of having their image published. Debate on photography touched on whether or not members of the Executive Committee are considered public officials. Although members of the Executive Committee are elected by the membership of the UTGSU, which comprises around 18,000 students, the union is a private corporation.

The General Council was presented with eight options for a media policy, each proposing varying degrees of access to UTGSU meetings.

There was also the potential of including punitive measures in the media policy, which would ban individual representatives of a media organization, or the media organization itself, for a period of one year, should they violate the terms of the media policy.

The Varsity’s Editor-in-Chief, Jack Denton, along with other General Council members, spoke in favour of the unconditional access option, noting that The Varsity has systems in place for adjudicating complaints about its coverage should they arise.

After debate, a motion was passed to recommend the unconditional access policy for further development by the union, and for this recommendation to temporarily govern media access at the next General Council meeting on February 26.

After failed AGM, council changes quorum for special meeting

Another item on the agenda was a bylaw amendment that would reduce the quorum for a special meeting of the union.

The UTGSU is required to hold a special meeting to present its draft financial statements for the 2017–2018 fiscal year to its membership, following a failure to do so at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on December 3. Statements were also not made available to the membership with the proper notice of 13 days prior to the meeting.

In a “letter of accountability” published on December 6, the Executive Committee stated, “Due to the reallocation of duties among the UTGSU’s Executive and Staff in the weeks leading up to the AGM, gaps in oversight created failures in upholding our responsibilities to the General Membership, and we hold ourselves directly accountable.”

During the General Council meeting immediately following the December 3 AGM, Finance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto had said that the failure put the student union at risk of defaulting to the university. The executives have since confirmed that the Office of the Vice-Provost Students has accepted the 2017–2018 financial audit. Rizzuto said at the January 22 meeting that although there will be no financial impact if the union does not present its financial statements to the membership, it will be doing so at the special meeting in order to avoid contravening its own bylaws.

The proposed amendment would have reduced the number of members necessary to hold a special meeting from 300 members to 100, the same as the quorum for AGMs. The motion was amended to change the number from 100 members to 150, and was then passed.

Disclosure: Justin Patrick has previously written for The Varsity.

No functionality without accountability

The UTGSU suffers from insider culture, financial mismanagement, and hostility with the media

No functionality without accountability

At the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) Executive Committee election for the 2018–2019 academic year, Internal Commissioner-elect Lynne Alexandrova expressed that her priority was “building together a top-level policy-guided and funding guaranteed mutually supportive tri-campus community.”

This commitment, in line with the UTGSU’s broader mandate to “advocate for increased graduate student representation and act as a voice for students,” has been unsuccessful. Made conspicuous at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) last month, the UTGSU is an increasingly unaccountable and inefficient organization.

A culture of insiders

For several years, the UTGSU has been under the control of a small circle of stubborn insiders. While not illegitimate, their democratic mandate is shaky. During the 2018 Executive Committee election, only two out of six positions were contested and several incumbents remained in their positions. This shows an unengaged and apathetic electorate.

As I have discussed before, lack of participation is a problem that faces all student governments. However, unlike the UTGSU, the University of Toronto Students’ Union, for all of its shortcomings, can at least conduct competitive elections, and has executive turnovers and productive meetings.

Alexandrova was removed from her position in late November by the UTGSU General Council after her office was vacated. Although her statements should be taken with a grain of salt, Alexandrova suggested that her removal corresponded with a culture that, as a Varsity article notes, “supported returning executives without room for outside or ‘different’ perspectives.”

Regardless of the substance of these allegations, this demonstrates an executive that, although not necessarily self-serving, avoids internal criticism and new ways of thinking. The problem, however, is that these governance principles are clearly broken. The lack of student involvement enables an environment that allows the executive to get away with not being entirely accountable, despite not being secretive. This has produced a broken and poorly managed organization, expressed most starkly through its financial situation.

Financial mismanagement

The issue does not stem from debt or threat of bankruptcy, but a failure to provide a draft report of financial statements to its members in time for the AGM. This led to a failure to pass the statements, leaving the union at risk of financial default. Although it is not entirely clear why or how this could have occurred, the situation reflects a sense of tiredness within the organization, such that it cannot provide robust and efficient internal functionality. Avoiding financial default should be one of the top priorities for any representative organization.

In addition to mismanagement, the UTGSU appears to lack democratic transparency and legitimacy. Members were unable to see, evaluate, and express their viewpoints on how their association spends their money.

The AGM subsequently lost any sense of productivity. It was reduced to logistics and, as a result, many of the attendees gave up, expressing a profound level of frustration. The meeting lost quorum and was adjourned with very little having been done and the organization’s future in question.

Lack of external accountability

The adjourned AGM gave way to the General Council meeting. The organization has also seemingly hid from external transparency there: the presence of the student press at both the AGM and the General Council proved contentious. Reporters from The Varsity, who were there to cover the meetings, were barred from taking photos or live-tweeting the event. Under the direction of editors, the reporters live-tweeted anyway. When discovered, The Varsity’s reporters were asked to leave, meaning that the outcomes of the General Council meeting, including the future of the organization, are left unclear to the public.

In some cases, sensitive information can justify confidentiality, which could have informed the union’s decision on this matter. However, this cannot be said for the AGM. The AGM acts primarily as the way in which the executive maintains a link of accountability to the people it represents, who themselves can communicate their will for the organization’s decisions.

The media, while not necessarily a ‘member’ in the strict sense, plays a crucial part in this process. The unconditional reporting of the student press is an established custom of student union meetings, and disregard for it suggests that there is something to hide from the public, especially when put in connection with other issues of accountability at the union.

The need for new faces

For any representative institution, accountability is necessary to perform the function it has been tasked to do, otherwise, it will fail as an organization. The UTGSU has fallen into this trap and risks failing the students it ought to represent.

Together, an insider culture, an uncertain financial situation, and a strained relationship with student journalists point to a systematically unaccountable and broken dynamic — one that the current leadership does not seem willing to change.

The UTGSU needs a much more engaged electorate and democratic governing culture, which can be brought first and foremost through new faces in its leadership. This can be supplemented by regular and competitive elections to avoid another broken culture.

Sam Routley is a fourth-year Political Science, Philosophy, and History student. He is The Varsity’s UTSG Campus Politics Columnist.

Editor’s Note (January 14, 5:00 pm): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Alexandrova was removed from office at the UTGSU AGM; in fact, her office was vacated on November 26 by the General Council. A previous version of this article also stated that the union has not posted documents from its December meeting — this is because those documents must be ratified at the General Council meeting later this month.

Graduate Students’ Union’s failed AGM puts organization at risk of financial default

Tensions arise over concerns of financial transparency, opposition to presence of student media

Graduate Students’ Union’s failed AGM puts organization at risk of financial default

The membership of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) failed to pass the organization’s 20172018 audited financial statements at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on December 3 due to a lack of quorum. According to the union’s finance commissioner, this puts the union at risk of defaulting to the university.

At the meeting, some GSU members complained that a draft report of the financial statements from the 20172018 fiscal year was not made available in their AGM packages, despite having to vote on the item. A portion of the meeting was spent debating how to logistically distribute the financial documents given the short notice.

Members were concerned over the failure to provide the financial statements in the agenda package. Members were supposed to receive the financial statements at least 13 days before the AGM.

Several members left the meeting out of frustration, though they suggested a future date for another general meeting.

After members left the room, the AGM lost quorum and the meeting was adjourned. A previously-scheduled General Council meeting was held immediately afterward.

During the General Council meeting, discussion followed on how to address the failure of the AGM to pass the 20172018 audited financial statements.

Finance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto claimed that the UTGSU would financially default to the university if the membership did not pass their audited financial statements for the past year.

During the General Council meeting, Rizzuto pointed out that The Varsitys reporters were live-tweeting that meeting and had live-tweeted the events of the AGM.

The Varsitys reporters were allowed to be present at the AGM on the condition that they neither take photographs nor live-tweet the events. Under direction from The Varsitys editors, the reporters purposefully ignored the condition to not live-tweet the events of the AGM.

Conditional seating is an unusual request at student union meetings, and this is the first time that Varsity reporters have been faced with conditions to their presence at a student governance meeting in recent years.

There was no vote or objection to keep the reporters in the room or to allow them to continue their work.

Since The Varsitys reporters were asked to leave the General Council meeting, it is unknown whether the audited financial statements were passed at that meeting.

Afterward, the UTGSU executive emailed The Varsity to say that The UTGSU General Council/Board-of-Directors unanimously accepted the Draft 2017-2018 Financial Audit at the General Council/Board-of-Directors meeting on December 3, 2018.”

“The UTGSU Executive Committee has been in communication with the University of Toronto Office of the Vice-Provost (Students) and they have indicated and confirmed that the UTGSU is in good financial standing with the University of Toronto,” wrote the executives.

“A motion to appoint a financial auditor for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year will be presented at a future meeting of the General Membership. The UTGSU is not incorporated under the Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) and is therefore not at risk of violating the Act.”

Editor’s Note (January 14, 2019, 5:32 pm): This article has been updated with the full comment from the UTGSU that The Varsity received on December 6, 2018. 

Internal Commissioner pushed out by Graduate Students’ Union General Council

Alexandrova voted out of office, Executive-at-Large to take up duties until by-election

Internal Commissioner pushed out by Graduate Students’ Union General Council

The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) General Council pushed out Internal Commissioner (IC) Lynne Alexandrova at a meeting on November 26 after a vote to vacate the office of the IC.

The duties of the IC will be taken up by Executive-at-Large Maryssa Barras until a by-election in January.

Citing Article 9.1 of the UTGSU bylaws, the Executive Committee sent notice to Alexandrova that there were suspicions that she was not properly fulfilling her duties as Internal Commissioner in October.

In contradiction of the bylaws, Alexandrova did not circulate a report on her ongoing initiatives before an executive meeting on October 16, where the executive brought its concerns to her, although she told The Varsity that she had done so before the November 15 meeting. At the same October meeting, the Executive Committee resolved to hire a mediator to “address Executive Committee team dynamics and communication issues.”

A month later, at an executive meeting on November 15, Finance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto motioned on behalf of the Committee to hold an irregular meeting of the General Council on November 26, and to vote on the vacation of the IC position at that meeting, citing a failure of Alexandrova to fulfil her duties.

All members of the Executive Committee voted to pass the motion, except for Alexandrova who was absent due to an illness.

In an interview with The Varsity, Alexandrova contended that she was not given sufficient warning that this meeting would occur and did not have sufficient strength to “stand up to ungrounded anxieties causing confrontational measures.”

She believes that, had she attended the meeting, she might have stopped the Executive Committee from invoking Article 9.

The Executive Committee, in a statement to The Varsity, claimed that the decision to hold a vote on the IC’s office did not result from the explicit intention to vacate the office. Ultimately, the General Council and Board of Directors made the final decision on the matter.

Tensions had been growing between Alexandrova and other members of the Executive Committee for some time. Alexandrova alleged that she was ignored or avoided by other executives throughout her term and blamed a structural conflict between her own “pedagogical paradigm” and the existing culture among UTGSU executives as cause for the strained relationship — specifically, a culture that supported returning executives without room for outside or “different” perspectives.

Alexandrova claimed that the Executive Committee was out of order in using Article 9.1 of the UTGSU bylaws to hold a vote on vacating her now former office because she was not properly notified that she was not fulfilling her duties.

The bylaws require that the executive accused be allowed a platform to address the rest of the Executive Committee, and while this occured at the October 16 executive meeting, Alexandrova contended that she was not clearly informed that the Executive Committee sought to address her performance as IC at this meeting.

While accused of failure to adequately perform her duties, Alexandrova wrote to The Varsity that she sought to add “some creative, content contribution… [to] encourage content discussion about what the Union’s leadership should be about, and the Union.”

She continued that she believes the vote to vacate her position is part of a larger deconstruction of the IC position that has been ongoing for years, and that the UTGSU “might reach a point where student-elected executives don’t matter” — this is in reference to what Alexandrova saw as encroachment of the staff members, including the Executive Director, on the duties of the IC and the “corporatization” of the UTGSU.

Editor’s note (December 3, 3:34 pm): This article originally stated that former UTGSU Internal Commissioner Lynne Alexandrova circulated a report on her ongoing initiatives before an executive meeting on October 16 at which the executive brought its concerns to her. In fact, she did not. The Varsity regrets the error.

Editor’s note (December 3, 5:50 pm): This article has been updated with additional context on the motion passed by the Executive Committee on November 15 to hold an additional meeting and vote on the vacation of the Internal Commissioner position on November 26.

Colleges, student unions expand representation for international students

U of T welcomed 19,187 international students last year

Colleges, student unions expand representation for international students

Amid a rising international student population, student unions and the seven colleges are expanding their representation on campus and creating services catered to those demographics. The Varsity reached out to several student unions and college governments for a roundup of international student representation on campus.

UTSU

The University of Toronto Students’ Union does not have a specific committee geared toward international students. However, it does have positions which serve the international student population, such as Vice-President Student Life and Vice-President Equity.

UTGSU

The International Students’ Caucus (ISC) at the University of Toronto Graduate Students Union (UTGSU) aims to address the interests and concerns regarding international graduate students.

The caucus hosts social, academic, and professional workshops and meetings concerning governance and policy changes within the university community and the city at large.

“The ISC is a group under the UTGSU [that] mainly serves international students’ interests, including academic success, social interaction, and networking,” reads a statement on its website.

“Meetings will be held monthly and will focus on the needs of the caucus’ members and the needs of all international graduate students including social interaction, networking, and potential changes in programming and/or governance at the university, city, and/or provincial levels.”

The ISC’s elected positions include the chair, who oversees the caucus as a whole, and the UTGSU Executive Liaison.

UTMSU

The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) represents over 13,500 students across the UTM, with 20 per cent of students being international. While the UTMSU does not have a specific position or caucus dedicated to international students, they do provide several services.

“We endeavour to ensure that the rights of all students are respected, provide cost-saving services, programs and events, and represent the voices of part-time undergraduate students across the University and to all levels of government,” reads a statement on their website. “We are fundamentally committed to the principle of access to education for all.”

The UTMSU also has several campaigns in partnership with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) regarding international student issues, including Fight for Fees, Fairness for International Students, and OHIP for International Students.

SCSU

The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) currently does not have a specific levy or caucus dedicated to international students; however, it has positions aimed toward serving the needs of domestic and international students alike on campus, such as Vice-President Campus Life and Vice-President Equity.

SCSU also provides specific services in partnership with the CFS for international students including the International Student Identity Card, which provides students with exclusive discounts such as airfare and entertainment.

Innis College

The Innis College student body provides a number of resources and services made available to international students. The Innis Residence Council has six positions for Junior International House Representatives who work alongside Senior House Representatives to coordinate events and foster a sense of involvement. An International Transition Advisor is also available on campus.

New College

New College houses the International Foundation Program, which provides conditional acceptance to international students whose English proficiency scores do not meet direct entrance requirements. The program guarantees admission to the Faculty of Arts & Science or the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering upon completion.

Madison Hönig, New College Student Council President, told The Varsity, “At New College, international students make up an important part of our student population. We are lucky to house the International Foundation Program (IFP) at New College. As such, we do have an International Foundation Program Representative to advocate for these students.”

“Additionally, we work closely with the New College Residence Council and the main governance structures within the College to ensure that international students are being advocated for and included in our programming, academic initiatives and support at New College,” continued Hönig. “We are working to see that international student representation and advocacy is considered within the portfolios of all of our members.”

University College

University College’s International Student Advisor aims to provide academic and personal resources to International students through their sUCcess Centre. Appointments can be made to meet with an advisor.

Victoria College

Victoria College International Students Association (VISA) is a levy funded by the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council that aims to support the needs and interests of international students at Victoria College.

VISA is used to host social, academic, and professional events throughout the year and also funds a mentorship program for incoming students.

“Our program offered help to students from all backgrounds, in which the mentor would be providing both academic and moral support to the students transitioning into the new university environment, through a two-hour session every two weeks,” reads a statement from the mentorship program’s website.

Woodsworth College

The International Students Director under the Woodsworth College Student Association (WCSA) is the representative for international students at Woodsworth College. The International Students Director also coordinates events hosted by the association catered to international students.

“With this role, I hope to connect with not only incoming international students but also upper year students to bridge the gap between them. I look forward to continuing with some of the events introduced by last year’s director as well as introducing a few new ones,” reads a statement on its website from from Leslie Mutoni, WCSA’s International Students Director.

During the 2017–2018 academic year, the university welcomed over 19,187 international students from across 163 countries and regions, mainly from China, India, the United States, South Korea, and Hong Kong.

The Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students and student societies at St. Michael’s College and Trinity College did not respond to The Varsity’s requests for comment.

Wellness Portal established to help graduate students find resources, services

Mental health services, academic support, supervisor relationship tips included

Wellness Portal established to help graduate students find resources, services

The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) collaborated to create a Graduate Wellness Portal to provide information on the resources and services available for graduate students.

Through this portal, graduate students can find mental health services, academic support, and resources to assist with supervisor relationships. The website also includes a directory of U of T and Toronto community resources, student-supervisor resources including a supervision tip sheet, and a list of frequently asked questions.

Luc De Nil, Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, said that the SGS and UTGSU are hoping that the portal will allow students to “avoid situations where stress has impacted them so much that they run into difficulties with their academic work because we all know that early intervention, early support is the best way to support our students.”

UTGSU Executive Sophie McGibbon-Gardner said that the UTGSU feels that “this is a good resource to help graduate students navigate these issues, especially in the wake of the mandated leave of absence policy.”

The recent passing of the controversial university-mandated leave of absence policy allows U of T to place a student on a non-punitive leave if their mental health poses a risk to themselves or others, or if they are unable“to fulfill the essential activities required to pursue their program.” The policy was passed in June to much backlash from students.

The portal was started as a way to solve the lack of cohesion that existed, explained De Nil, saying that “students know the resources are there [and] that resources are available to them, but they do not quite know how to find them or how to start accessing them or who to contact.”

With U of T’s growing number of international students, the portal also includes information on off-campus services that offer support in multiple languages.

Some of the resources available are SGS Wellness Counsellors, a series of Coping Skills and Supervision Workshops, and G2G Peer Advisors at the Graduate Conflict Resolution Centre.

UTGSU members can also assist other graduate students with advice, information, and representation when experiencing academic and/or administrative difficulties, including problems with supervisors, departments, or the university, if students would prefer to speak with other graduate students.

The SGS will also be looking to have accessibility advisors available specifically for graduate students, according to De Nil.

Graduate students’ union elects new Executive Committee

Over half of executives incumbents, over half of positions uncontested

Graduate students’ union elects new Executive Committee

The election results for the 2018–2019 University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) Executive Committee show four executives re-elected to their positions, with only two of the six positions having been contested. Two of the elected executives had previously held a role on the executive committee.

Lynne Alexandrova, Internal Commissioner-elect, said her priority is “building together a top-level policy-guided and funding guaranteed mutually supportive tri-campus community.” She affirmed her focus on disability and accessibility issues while also reiterating a commitment to mental health, saying that she would work intently on “de-stressing university work and life across constituencies.”

“It is up to the university to elect to be such a society, where robust wellness supports practically guarantee that excellence in health is boosted rather than undermined by aspirations for academic distinction,” said Alexandrova.

Finance and University Governance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto, who will be in his third term as a UTGSU executive, said he hopes to improve resources and funding for members of the union, in addition to emphasizing transparency. Rizzuto said he wants to “build upon the working relationships that the UTGSU has been cultivating with the School of Graduate Studies and other University of Toronto administrative bodies.” He is currently serving as the UTGSU’s Vice-Chair of Finance and the UTGSU’s Liaison to the School of Graduate Studies.

Leonardo Jose Uribe Castano, the re-elected Civics and Environment Commissioner, wrote that his “main goal for the upcoming year is to advocate for a better transit deal for UofT graduate students.”

“I will also focus on promoting a coherent communication between all environment/sustainability focused groups on campus,” said Uribe Castano.

Christopher Ball and Cristina Jaimungal, both incumbents re-elected to their positions, promised a focus on accessibility to resources and funds from the UTGSU in their election statements.

Sophie McGibbon Gardener, Ball, and Jaimungal did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.

Editor’s Note (March 7): This article has been updated to clarify that more than half of the executives are incumbents, and more than half of the positions were uncontested. 

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.