UTMSU AGM 2018: Online voting stirs debate

Motion rejected due to fears of inaccessibility, hacking

UTMSU AGM 2018: Online voting stirs debate

A motion to implement online voting for University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) elections was rejected after arousing lengthy debate at the UTMSU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), with attendees questioning whether it was safe and accessible.

The motion was the only item submitted by a member outside of the executive and thus the last item on the agenda at the AGM, which was held on November 29.

Submitted by Ethan Bryant, the motion cited what Bryant saw as the “toxic nature” of past UTMSU elections, whose “competitive nature… [left] students open to being harassed by campaigners.”

The motion stated that “the openness and accessibility of elections should be a top priority for the UTMSU.”

Bryant called for the UTMSU to consult with the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) — which already uses online voting — and implement the procedure in its upcoming April elections and every election thereafter.

“I put forward this motion because of accessibility,” Bryant said. “Online voting would increase voter turnout because instead of voting at polling stations on campus, students can vote anywhere on or off campus as long as they have a device and an internet connection.”

“Student elections for all positions, in the past, have been criticized for their toxic nature and have been negatively competitive despite the election officer’s best efforts,” Bryant continued. “Online voting would close the door on any harassment of voters or ballot system, which the current system does not do a good enough job of stopping.”

Bryant said that both Governing Council and UTSU elections already take place online, and that online voting is environmentally friendly since it doesn’t use a lot of paper.

UTMSU Vice-President Equity Leena Arbaji opposed the motion. “Easy and accessible are not the same thing. If we want to make voting more inclusive, then we should be working toward improving our current structure instead of starting from a new system.”

Arbaji added that online voting would bring up its own accessibility issues, as not all students have access to a reliable internet connection or devices.

Arbaji’s speech was followed by those of more than 15 students, some in favour of online voting, others against it.

Members in favour of online voting cited anxiety when confronted with in-person campaigners, the lack of access to voting by commuter students, and poor voter turnout as reasons to support online voting.

Members against the motion cited possible online hacking, the inability to verify voter identity online, the risk of online voting turning into a popularity contest, the effectiveness of in-person communication with voters, and the issue that not all students have access to laptops or smartphones due to financial implications as reasons to oppose online voting.

A 2011 study from Elections British Colubmia found that there have been “no documented cases of hacking of Internet voting systems in a public election” based off of studies of elections across Canada, Europe, the United States, Australia and India.

UTMSU President Felipe Nagata was also against online voting, saying that with in-person voting, candidates “have to convince [students] to get out of their way, go show their T-Card, go cast a ballot, and that’s a process.”

“That process comes with conversation, it comes with student engagement, it comes with a bigger and better thing that adds value to your vote as a student, as a citizen, as a student at UTM.”

“I don’t think this system is perfect. I think we have many flaws,” Nagata acknowledged. “I’m down to fix the system that we have in place. It’s been in place for a long time and I believe it’s working because students are voting.”

UTMSU elections have consistently had low voter turnout, with only 13 per cent of eligible students voting in the last election.

Ultimately, the question was called to end discussion and move directly to a vote. The motion was defeated and the meeting was adjourned immediately after.

Online voting has been a hotly debated topic among student unions at U of T. The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union recently discussed the option before deciding to reject it, citing a risk of coercion and lack of research into the topic. The Canadian Federation of Students also rejected online voting at its National General Meeting in the summer for similar reasons.

UTMSU AGM 2018: Separation from UTSU approved, online voting rejected

The Duck Stop reports $3,000 deficit, The Blind Duck reports surplus

UTMSU AGM 2018: Separation from UTSU approved, online voting rejected

The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on November 29, which included questions to executives, a presentation of financial statements, and a rejection of online voting.

The meeting was called to order over an hour later than expected, at 6:25 pm.

UTMSU President Felipe Nagata began by giving his presidential address. Nagata outlined the past victories of the UTMSU, including the recently passed Course Retake Policy and the September Orientation, and expressed his wish for a more united campus.

“Our goal is to make our campus feel like home to everybody, but we realize that it takes a lot more than just six execs in the UTMSU office. We need all of your help,” Nagata emphasized. “Regardless of the backgrounds, of our stories, of our experiences, of our beliefs, of our political stances, of our approaches to issues, we should be speaking as one united voice.”

Nagata’s address was followed by an executive question period. Attendees approached the microphone and asked questions.

Student Michael O’Judice questioned Nagata regarding Executive Director Munib Sajjad’s official position in the UTMSU. He asked why Sajjad, despite being an unelected staff member, spoke for the UTMSU at the recent Canadian Federation of Students AGM.

“[The UTMSU team] often gather before the meeting and we plan everything out, so we come up with one united voice,” Nagata replied. “Regardless if you’re staff, exec, we allow everybody to speak together at those meetings.”

“[Sajjad] has pretty much the same opinions on things that we do as well, so I don’t think it’s a problem,” Nagata added, but also said that he would be willing to discuss the matter further with the student.

UTMSU Vice-President Internal Yan Li then presented the 2017–2018 audited financial documents.

Li reported that The Blind Duck, the UTMSU’s student pub, had a surplus last year, whereas The Duck Stop, the UTMSU’s convenience store, had a loss of approximately $3,000.

She said that the union’s goal was to break even by the end of this fiscal year. Li then moved to appoint the auditor for the next fiscal term. Glenn Graydon Wright LLP was re-appointed as the UTMSU’s auditor.

The next motion was the endorsement of the separation of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) and the UTMSU, which has been a topic that has dominated both unions’ discussions in recent months. The two unions entered into the Associate Membership Agreement in 2008 for the UTSU to represent UTM students at a central advocacy level.

“We recognize the fact that [the] UTMSU… understands the needs and the wants of the students at UTM better than a student union that is situated downtown,” said UTMSU Vice-President External Atif Abdullah.

“UTM students actually pay into [the] UTSU, which is a society fee, and 15 per cent of that is kept by the UTSU’s membership fee. That fee coming back to the UTMSU means improved bursaries, more bursaries for students on this campus, [and] more clubs funding.”

Tyler Biswurm, UTSU Vice-President Operations, approached the microphone after a brief discussion regarding Abdullah’s statements, proceeding to read aloud a statement from UTSU President Anne Boucher endorsing this separation.

“It is in the best interests of UTM students to be fully represented by a students’ union that is on-site and is therefore in a better place to understand the needs of the students on the Mississauga campus,” read Biswurm. “In addition, the agreement between [the] UTSU and [the] UTMSU wrongly takes away rights from the UTMSU to fully represent UTM students.”

The motion to endorse the separation of the unions passed unanimously.

The next motion, and the only motion not moved by an executive member, was to implement online voting during UTMSU elections. Moved by Ethan Bryant, it caused lengthy and divisive debate, with students ultimately deciding to reject online voting.

Among the members to speak were Vice-President University Affairs Andres Posada, who said that the motion had given him much to reflect on, and Vice-President Equity Leena Arbaji and Nagata, who both opposed the motion.

Recapping the 2018 University of Toronto Students’ Union Annual General Meeting

Long debates on free speech, policy proposals dominate

Recapping the 2018 University of Toronto Students’ Union Annual General Meeting

Lengthy debates surrounding free speech, policy proposals, and union operations dominated the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October 30.

The meeting ran overtime until 10:20 pm despite losing quorum at 9:52 pm. According to the UTSU’s bylaws, at least 50 people must be physically present in the room for the AGM to run, which was not the case in the final portion of the meeting.

However, a member in the room pointed out that the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act states that as long as quorum is present at the beginning of a meeting, it can continue even if it is not present throughout.

As such, Speaker Eric Bryce ruled that the meeting could continue despite not having enough people in the room.

Before losing quorum

Before the meeting lost quorum, the AGM covered the majority of the items on the agenda, starting with a presidential address and question period to UTSU executives.

Members asked a range of questions, notably about the Student Commons’ opening and operations, as well as the UTSU’s stance on the Canadian Federation of Students.

Following the question period, members voted to pass the UTSU’s 2018 audited financial statements. Notably, the union reported a surplus of $492,887, up from $23,521 in 2017.

“This is the largest surplus the UTSU’s run in recent memory,” said Vice-President Operations Tyler Biswurm. He credited layoffs, a repatriation of fees from a defunct student group, investments, and “better financial practices.”

The UTSU also voted to continue to use Sloan Partners LLP as its auditors for the second year in a row.

Following that, the meeting then moved on to changes to the Elections Procedure Code, with members voting to officially ban slates in UTSU elections.

This was followed by a vote to support endorsing the separation of the UTSU and the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU). The motion passed unanimously with 222 votes in favour.

A separation would allow the UTMSU to provide services currently offered by the UTSU, such as a health and dental plan, as well as conduct their own advocacy efforts. The UTSU would also be allowed to provide services currently offered by the UTMSU.

Following a short recess, the AGM then had a lengthy discussion on a motion submitted by a member which called on the UTSU to oppose Premier Doug Ford’s mandate that all universities develop and enforce free speech policies.

The item was brought forward by Jack Rising from the club Socialist Fightback U of T. It called the provincial government’s policy “a direct attack on the time-honoured tradition of civil disobedience on campus” and urged the UTSU to take a stance.

After a long debate and some proposed amendments, the resolution was passed.

After losing quorum

In the last major portion of the meeting, members debated at length about a proposal made by Vice-President University Affairs Josh Grondin to allow members to vote on procedural and operation policies at the AGM.

Biswurm and UTSU President Anne Boucher brought up concerns over letting members vote on policy, saying that not everyone who attends AGMs arrives with good intentions.

Although the meeting lost quorum in the middle of the debate, the controversial resolution was passed with no amendments.

— With files from Ilya Bañares, Hannah Carty, Ann Marie Elpa, Adam A. Lam, and Andy Takagi

UTSU AGM 2018: Students endorse UTMSU, UTSU separation

Motion passes unanimously with 222 votes

UTSU AGM 2018: Students endorse UTMSU, UTSU separation

Members of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) voted to endorse separation from the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) at the UTSU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October 30. The motion passed unanimously with 222 votes.

The move comes after a lengthy negotiations process that began in January and culminated in the UTSU Board of Directors endorsing separation in September. The vote at the AGM was for members to show their approval of the endorsement, which would allow the unions to begin the formal process of separating.

UTMSU Vice-President External Atif Abdullah supported the separation, citing issues regarding campus representation.

Specifically, he pointed to a perceived lack of support on the health and dental plan — which is administered by the UTSU — as well as on what the UTMSU saw to be a lack of solidarity on the controversial University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy passed in June.

However, Abdullah added that it would still be possible for the two unions to work together after separation.

“When it comes to banding together for issues, I don’t believe you need a contract to work together,” said Abdullah.

UTSU Vice-President Operations Tyler Biswurm spoke to The Varsity on the next steps of formal separation and the overall financial implications, specifically an $82,800 loss in yearly revenue from UTM students until 2023.

“We’ve talked to the university about [its] role in it and so we’re putting in every effort that we can to make sure this, in an operational sense, goes smoothly,” said Biswurm.

The UTSU and the UTMSU signed an Associate Membership Agreement (AMA) on April 30, 2008. UTSU President Anne Boucher claimed that students from both the UTSU and UTMSU criticized the decision to sign the AMA at the time, as it was agreed upon during the last day of the fiscal period with little time for discussion.

The UTSU has experienced a similar separation in the past with regards to the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union, which left the UTSU’s predecessor, the Students’ Administrative Council, in 2004.

Once the separation is finalized, the UTMSU’s health and dental plan will no longer be under the UTSU, meaning that it would have to find a new plan under a different health care provider. The student union will also no longer have to sign an agreement to work alongside the UTSU and would be able to conduct its own advocacy efforts.

— With files from Ilya Bañares, Hannah Carty, Josie Kao, Adam A. Lam, and Andy Takagi

The Breakdown: 2018 UTSU Annual General Meeting

UTSU/UTMSU Membership Agreement, Doug Ford, election reform on agenda

The Breakdown: 2018 UTSU Annual General Meeting

The University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) Annual General Meeting (AGM) — the union’s largest gathering of the year — will be held on October 30 in Walter Hall. The meeting is open to all UTSU members and is a chance for members to direct their questions or concerns to their union representatives. In advance of the AGM, The Varsity looks into how the meeting will be structured and how students can participate.

The UTSU’s membership includes full-time undergraduate students at the St. George and Mississauga campuses, and students in professional faculties, the Toronto School of Theology, the Transitional Year Program, and those on a Professional Experience Year Co-op.

The meeting is conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, a manual of parliamentary procedure, and will begin with a presidential address from UTSU President Anne Boucher, followed by an executive question period.

In order for the meeting to begin, a quorum has to be met with 75 members. Out of this, 50 members must be physically present while the remainder may be through proxies. A proxy vote is when a member appoints another member to act as their representative through a proxy form. The deadline for proxying a vote was October 21.

The standout item on the agenda is the endorsement of the separation of the UTSU and University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU).

The UTSU and UTMSU began renegotiations on their Associate Membership Agreement (AMA) in January. Talks broke down, and in September the UTSU’s Ad Hoc Negotiations Committee formally recommended terminating the AMA.

Ratification of the separation can occur in one of two ways. The first is a three-quarters majority vote at a joint meeting of the UTSU and UTMSU Board of Directors and a three-quarters majority vote at the AGM between the UTSU and UTMSU board members and executives. The second is a two-thirds majority vote at a joint meeting, and a simple majority referendum across both campuses.

Also on the agenda are resolutions submitted by members, which will be introduced by Vice-President Operations Tyler Biswurm. Of note is a resolution for the UTSU to “go on record as opposing the Ontario government’s anti-democratic ‘free speech on campus’ mandate, and refuse to participate in its implementation.”

Premier Doug Ford’s campus free speech mandate requires student groups to comply with their university’s free speech policy. According to a press release on the Ontario government’s website, “institutions consider official student groups’ compliance with the policy as condition for ongoing financial support or recognition.”

If the resolution passes, the UTSU will refuse to abide by Ford’s policy after the January 1 deadline, and the Ontario government will have to determine whether U of T is violating the mandate and if provincial funding should be pulled.

Provincial funding made up 29 per cent of U of T’s operating funds last year.

Another motion proposed by a member is a discussion on amending the Elections Procedure Code of the UTSU. The amendment, which is pending approval at the general meeting, would prohibit cross-campaigning, or the ability of candidates to campaign for one another. This would eliminate slates from UTSU elections and each candidate would not be allowed to campaign for other candidates.

The AGM agenda and other information can be found on the UTSU’s website.

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.

The Breakdown: What happens if the UTSU and the UTMSU separate

UTSU projects roughly $82,800 loss in yearly revenue from UTM students until 2023

The Breakdown: What happens if the UTSU and the UTMSU separate

A University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) committee has recommended that the organization terminate its membership agreement with the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU).

Lucas Granger, a member of the Ad Hoc Negotiations Committee, presented the recommendation at the UTSU’s August 15 board meeting.

“It’s really serious, and I want everyone to think about that, because it’s a big move in the way the UTSU is structured,” said Granger.

That recommendation is “contingent on expected negotiation results,” said UTSU President Anne Boucher at the board meeting. Both Boucher and UTMSU President Felipe Nagata declined to comment on the specifics of these expected results.

The agreement, effective since April 30, 2008, was a bid to “co-ordinate and streamline resources” of the UTSU and UTMSU. But on January 25, 2018, the UTMSU and the UTSU began talks to renegotiate the agreement, jointly citing a need for the UTMSU to secure greater independence in governance and to better represent UTM’s student body.

The goal of the talks was not to rip up the agreement, but to “strengthen the contract,” said then-UTMSU President Salma Fakhry. That sentiment was reinforced by then-UTSU President Mathias Memmel, who said that the UTSU was “cautiously optimistic that the current agreement can be amended to the satisfaction of both parties.”

But by February, the UTSU and UTMSU released an identical announcement that “the parties aren’t able to reach an agreement,” and that they “have agreed to hold a vote on whether or not to terminate the agreement.” If the agreement is terminated, UTM students will no longer be represented by the UTSU.

Talks stalled, so the previous executives agreed to leave further negotiations “to the new executive teams [of 2018–2019] should they choose to continue.”

The new 2018–2019 UTMSU executives first met with their board on April 27, and the new UTSU executives first met with their board on April 28. The Ad Hoc Negotiations Committee within the UTSU, chaired by Boucher, first met on July 20 to secure an agreement. The committee met a second time on July 27 to discuss the financial impact of a potential separation and to issue a recommendation.

Joshua Grondin, UTSU Vice-President University Affairs, estimated that the UTSU could expect a revenue decrease of $82,000 per year from a loss of UTM student revenue.

Where does the money come from?

UTM students pay one fee and three levies to the UTSU each year, according to the Membership Agreement. The UTSU then transfers the entirety of the UTM students’ portion of both the UTSU Daycare Levy and the UTSU World University Service of Canada Levy to the UTMSU, along with 75 per cent of the UTSU Orientation Levy and 85 per cent of the UTSU Society/Membership fees. The UTSU retains the remainder of the funds.

Where does this money go?

The UTSU has budgeted the remaining 15 per cent portion of the UTSU Society/Membership Fees, which amount to around $82,800 per year, for event-running and advocacy work.

Grondin said at the July 27 committee meeting that this advocacy work includes UTSU representation on behalf of UTM, since the 2008 agreement prohibits the UTMSU from representing itself in campus-wide negotiations, such as with Governing Council.

In the 2017–2018 period, the UTSU earned $1,950,508.62 in total revenue and gains. The non-remitted revenue from UTM students accounts for 4.2 per cent of that.

Boucher further projects that lost UTM student fees would result in a sub-10 per cent reduction of revenue that the UTSU would expect to receive in 2022.

In response to Boucher’s projection, Granger said that “it’s not that much of an impact,” to which Boucher agreed, adding that “the numbers are more positive than would have been anticipated.”

How will the UTSU make up for lost revenue?

The UTSU plans to cut spending to “pursue efficiencies,” with Boucher vowing that she “would never be able to responsibly make cuts to its advocacy, services, or programming that could contribute significantly to campus life.”

The UTSU also plans to request donations from alumni, as well as to increase cash inflow by opening for-profit services run by the UTSU’s commercial subsidiary, which include renting conference spaces and running a café. Finally, the UTSU is considering an increase in the UTSU levy to offset the loss in revenue.

What are the benefits of a UTSU-UTMSU separation?

For the UTSU, a separation would allow the UTSU to provide services currently offered by the UTMSU and vice versa, which is currently prohibited by the agreement.

According to Boucher, the UTMSU would receive increased freedom in governance and increased revenue from UTM students, enabling it to offer services that it could not operate before. Nagata did not discuss any benefits to the UTMSU from a separation.

How would the separation be ratified?

The recommendation of the ad hoc committee is non-binding. One of two processes must be undertaken for a separation to occur.

The first is a three-quarters majority vote in favour of terminating the agreement in a joint meeting between the UTSU and UTMSU Board of Directors, followed by another three-quarters majority vote in favour of terminating the agreement at the Annual General Meeting between the UTSU and the UTMSU board members and executives.

The second option is a two-thirds majority vote in favour of terminating the agreement in a similar joint meeting, followed by a simple majority vote in a joint referendum.

UTSU recommends terminating membership agreement with UTMSU

Budget, failed motion also discussed at August board meetings

UTSU recommends terminating membership agreement with UTMSU

A University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) committee has recommended that the UTSU terminate its decade-old agreement with the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU). The recommendation was announced at the UTSU’s Board of Directors meeting on August 15 and came after months of negotiations between the two student unions.

Following the August 15 meeting, an emergency UTSU board meeting was called on August 22 to discuss the UTSU’s 2018–2019 Operating Budget, which included large increases in areas such as office supplies and transportation. The jump in these line items was attributed to the upcoming opening of the Student Commons, which was recently delayed from Fall 2018 to January 2019.

The board meetings also saw some tension between board members and executives, with directors questioning late executive reports. In an unusual move, the board also voted down a motion presented by the executives, which proposed moving up the date of September by-elections.

Termination of UTMSU agreement

Since 2008, the UTSU and the UTMSU have been in an Associate Membership Agreement (AMA) that has linked the two groups in areas of governance and services. All UTM students belong to both unions, and the UTSU remits a portion of fees paid by those students back to the UTMSU.

Talks began in January 2018 to renegotiate the AMA, but they have apparently broken down since the UTSU’s Ad Hoc Negotiations Committee has formally recommended that the AMA “be terminated, contingent on expected negotiation results,” according to UTSU President Anne Boucher.

A termination of the agreement would mean a huge restructuring of how both unions function, changing everything from the makeup of their boards to the services that they provide. For instance, the UTMSU would be allowed to conduct its own advocacy work, which the current AMA does not permit.

2018–2019 budget

The August 22 emergency meeting was called to discuss the budget because the documents were released “too late for people to be able to review it in time,” according to UTSU Vice-President University Affairs Joshua Grondin. The budget wasn’t released until a few hours before the meeting by Vice-President Internal Tyler Biswurm.

Notable increases include office supplies, which went up from $1,500 to $10,000, as well as a doubling in the budget for transportation from $5,000 to $10,000.

Biswurm said that the increase in office supplies reflect one-time costs due to the imminent move to the Student Commons building.

For transportation, Biswurm explained that the uptick was to fix mistakes in last year’s budget, which underestimated the cost of transportation and resulted in overspending by $2,483.25.

According to Biswurm, the discrepancy also happened because “transportation expenses that should have been charged to the Transportation account were mistakenly categorized” into the wrong accounts, such as for events and conferences.

Excerpt from UTSU 2018–2019 Operating Budget, released August 15, 2018. (Click to Expand)

Tension at board meeting

In a rare turn of events, a motion failed at the August 15 board meeting. The motion was to move the notice of the UTSU’s by-elections from September 20 to September 6.

Boucher explained that the motion “would have allowed students more time to consider running in the UTSU by-elections.” The positions available for running include those in Kinesiology, Theology, and Law, along with possible positions available due to the resignation of members.

But board members “pointed out that [September 6] may be too early for students to properly consider candidacy, and suggested the election period range be shortened in lieu,” wrote Boucher in a statement.

Innis College Director Lucas Granger wrote to The Varsity that he voted against the motion because releasing the by-elections notice “on the first day of classes leaves first-years specifically in the dark,” since the notice may be crowded out by other back-to-school announcements.

Also brought to issue at the meeting were the many missing Executive Reports, which is a summary of the month that each UTSU executive is mandated to present at board meetings.

Reports from Biswurm, Vice-President Equity Ammara Wasim, and Vice-President External Affairs Yuli Liu were all missing. Biswurm also did not submit his June Executive Report.

When asked by Granger why his reports were missing, Biswurm responded, “It has mostly to do with the fact that I’m bad at scheduling.”

Biswurm explained that he dedicated more time to writing the operating budget and apologized for not having his reports up.

“I figured if you want me I can give a verbal report but there is no written version. It’s not written at all; I would not be able to submit it now.”

The absence of reports was also raised by Academic Director of Social Sciences Joshua Bowman, who said at the meeting, “I’m concerned with the fact that I’m unaware of what the Vice-President Equity is doing, due to the fact that the Executive Report was not submitted.” Wasim responded that it was “done on time,” but her assistant did not submit it to Biswurm.

Bowman later wrote to The Varsity, “We as students consistently have to work with deadlines when handing in essays or submitting projects. Our elected Executive should be no exception, especially when acting on our behalf.”

In other business, the UTSU continues to leave two student positions on the CIUT 89.5 FM Board of Directors unfulfilled. CIUT is U of T’s campus radio station, and its board reserves two seats for UTSU appointees, which have been vacant since March 4.

This vacancy came after then-appointees, Boucher and former UTSU executive Stuart Norton, resigned, citing “antagony, intimidation, and dismissal” in response to their criticism of the CIUT’s handling of a “sexual harassment complaint” by CIUT host Jamaias DaCosta against a co-host. They also accused CIUT of an “undemocratic” elections process.

Justifying the continued vacation of the student positions, Boucher said that the voices of new appointees “were not something that [the CIUT] wanted to hear,” and she would not “feel comfortable sending a student into that situation.”