Tensions abound at September UTSU board meeting

Accusations of lies, discussions of forced resignations take centre stage

Tensions abound at September UTSU board meeting

Once again, tensions ran high at the monthly Board of Directors meeting for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). Directors confronted executives about bad communication and discussed motions to force the resignations of 11 directors under Bylaw X.

Ongoing negotiations to separate from the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), the resignation of one director, and the hiring of another to fill the vacancy were also discussed.

Accusations over miscommunication

Academic Director of Social Sciences Joshua Bowman accused Vice-President Equity Ammara Wasim of falsifying her July Executive Report, which detailed the work she completed that month.

In the report, Wasim claimed that she sent a Google Form to “more than twenty U of T-based equity focused clubs” in order “to spread the word on the Equity collectives and get more students to join.” An equity collective is an advocacy group that discusses issues of social justice.

“I would like to encourage the VP Equity to not blatantly lie,” said Bowman. “I have my inbox in front of me right now — a contact was never made to [the Indigenous Studies Students’ Union (ISSU)]. I’d suggest against doing that in the future.”

But Bowman, citing his position as the President of the ISSU, insisted that “it’s not enough to say that you’re going to reach out to them and not reaching out at all.”

“If we want to bring these voices to the table that have been disenfranchised, you have to do more of the legwork as the UTSU.”

Chair Billy Graydon recommended Bowman “avoid direct accusations against other members of the assembly,” as “usually these things are misunderstandings.”

Wasim later found records indicating that she did indeed send the materials. She identified the source of the conflict as an unintentional mix-up between email addresses for the Centre for Indigenous Studies and the ISSU. According to Wasim, the incorrect email address appears in the first Google result for the query, “Indigenous Students Student Union email.”

Wasim added that “instead of waiting a whole month to accuse someone, it might have been wise to just reach out.”

Bowman clarified that he had emailed President Anne Boucher earlier, which Boucher confirmed, but followed with an apology for his earlier statements: “I believe I overstepped by using the word ‘liar’ and I’d like to apologize for that.”

Attempts to invoke Bylaw X

Also on the agenda were motions to force the resignations of 11 directors, as allowed under Bylaw X. Chengye Yang, one of New College’s three UTSU directors, voluntarily sent in a letter of resignation.

According to Section 2 of the union’s Bylaw X, a Division I or II director “shall be deemed to have delivered their resignation, confirmed by a simple majority vote of the Board” whenever said member has failed to send regrets for two missed meetings, failed to attend three consecutive meetings or any four meetings regardless of sent regrets, or failed to attend any three committee meetings.

During the discussion, Bowman noted that absence should not be conflated with a lack of work outside of meetings.

After spending 30 minutes of its two-hour meeting discussing whether or not to force the resignations of the remaining 10 directors, it was decided that the board would adopt a more lenient interpretation of the bylaw and be more tolerant of absences in the summer. As such, the board determined that the 10 motions were out of order.

Immediately after, the directors voted to accept Yang’s resignation. Graydon mentioned that positions left vacant at this time could be put up for by-election.

Other business

The UTSU also went in camera to discuss their negotiations to separate from the UTMSU. In camera meetings only allow board members to sit in. The UTMSU delegation, which holds seven appointed positions on the UTSU board, left voluntarily.

A motion from Innis College Director Lucas Granger to hold the October board meeting at UTMSU failed, due in part to conflicts with midterm exams. According to the UTSU’s bylaws, the board must hold at least one meeting per session at UTM.

The UTSU also hired a new Faculty Director of Law, Alexandra Hergaarden Robertson.

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.”

 

 

Student Commons opening delayed to January 2019

Opening originally scheduled for September, postponed due to construction delays

Student Commons opening delayed to January 2019

The opening of the Student Commons — a proposed student centre that has been in the works for over a decade — has been delayed from September 2018 to January 2019. According to the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), which is in charge of running the centre, the postponement is due to unexpected construction delays.

Though they will not have an exact opening date until the construction nears completion, UTSU Vice-President Operations Tyler Biswurm told The Varsity, “We are as confident as we could possibly be in our projected open date.”

Biswurm explained that since the Student Commons building at 230 College Street is over 100 years old, it presents its own unique renovation difficulties.

“Due to contemporary limitations in construction techniques, the poor quality of building materials used, and the loss of architectural documentation to time, multiple unforeseen obstacles have presented themselves in the implementation of plans for the Student Commons,” said Biswurm.

Both the proposed Operating Levy fee of $6.50 and the increased semesterly levy of $14.25 will be pushed back to the second semester in accordance with the building’s delayed opening.

The approaching opening of the Student Commons marks the end of a journey that began in 2007, when students voted to implement a levy to fund the Student Commons. The project has since faced tremendous financial difficulties, with a 2016 budget plan forecasting a $300,000 deficit in the first year. A 2017 estimate lowered this amount to around $27,000.

Prior to this most recent delay, the building’s opening had already been pushed back from September 2017 to September 2018. During this time, changes had to be made to the plan to decrease the likelihood of bankruptcy, as the building’s agreement outlining the UTSU’s terms of use states that U of T will have the right to seize control in the case of two consecutive years of deficits following the first three years of operation.

Biswurm confirmed that the building is still on track to report a surplus in its third fiscal year, which will keep the building in the hands of the UTSU.

Among the groups that had planned to move into the Student Commons in September is the UTSU, which will remain in its current office at 12 Hart House Circle during the first semester. On behalf of any other groups that had planned to move into the building as of September, “the UTSU did negotiate extended occupancy permissions for all service groups and levy groups that had been promised space.”

Biswurm emphasized that all student groups are a priority for the UTSU as the Student Commons takes shape, adding that “whether it be for hosting their events programming, for hosting their regular office hours, for use as [a] convenient meeting space, or for use as a staging ground for events, the Student Commons is built to facilitate the vital role clubs play on the U of T campus.”

Newly-hired UTSU General Manager parts ways with UTSU

Michelle Lee-Fullerton started her job in May

Newly-hired UTSU General Manager parts ways with UTSU

Earlier this month, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) confirmed that it has parted ways with General Manager Michelle Lee-Fullerton, who was hired in May.

According to a statement from UTSU President Anne Boucher, they parted ways in the second week of July. Boucher said they cannot disclose how this occurred “due to legal constraints, and out of respect for the individual,” but they “wish her the best in the future.”

The General Manager position, which was recently created to replace the Executive Director position, is meant to serve as a link between the elected UTSU executive team and the operational staff who oversee the completion of projects.

Previously, Lee-Fullerton had told The Varsity that she planned to work with the incoming Executive Committee to develop their overarching goals into a defined plan for the year, specifically aiming to get “operational needs met while upholding the organization’s fiscal responsibilities.”

Notably, the General Manager was to have an important role in helping the UTSU develop the Student Commons, a major project that was slated to open in September 2018, but has recently been delayed to January 2019.

Tyler Biswurm, Vice-President Operations for the UTSU, told The Varsity that this change in personnel did not contribute to the delay in the Student Commons opening, and has had no effect on other UTSU projects.

The UTSU is currently searching for an Operations Director to manage the Student Commons.

The Operations Director will manage various areas of the Student Commons as the UTSU works toward the January 2019 opening. According to Biswurm, they will be responsible for “implementing policies passed by the Student Commons Management Committee (which consists almost entirely of students), managing all day-to-day operations of the building, managing agreements made with stakeholders in the building, the enforcement of rules and procedures in the use of facilities, and the oversight of building staff.”

The UTSU anticipates hiring an Operations Director in September and a General Manager in October. Boucher explained that “Our priority for this year has always been the successful open of the Student Commons, but crucially, without sacrificing the central mission of the UTSU.”

University of Toronto Students’ Union hires new General Manager, Michelle Lee-Fullerton

General Manager crucial in directing Student Commons, possible CFS defederation

University of Toronto Students’ Union hires new General Manager, Michelle Lee-Fullerton

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has hired a new General Manager, Michelle Lee-Fullerton, thereby replacing the former position of Executive Director. The General Manager position is functionally the same as Executive Director, but Lee-Fullerton says that the new title “represents the turning of a new chapter for the UTSU.”

The purpose of the General Manager is to act as a link between the elected UTSU executive team and the operational staff that oversee the completion of projects. Lee-Fullerton told The Varsity that she will work with the incoming Executive Committee to help develop their overarching goals into a defined plan for the year, aiming specifically to get “operational needs met while upholding the organization’s fiscal responsibilities.”

A major project of the UTSU is the Student Commons, projected to open in September 2018 after a rocky path to completion. As of February 2017, the Student Commons had a projected deficit of over $800,000 over the first eight years, with a $300,000 loss expected in the first year alone.

With the opening of the Student Commons, the UTSU has the important responsibility of managing the building in its crucial first year. Regarding the potential of the Student Commons, Lee-Fullerton noted that “the opportunities and possibilities to support student initiatives and service from a capacity perspective is impressive itself.”

Another important topic for the incoming executive is the issue of possible defederation from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). The CFS is an organization that the UTSU is a member of that lobbies for student issues. The incoming UTSU executive is in favour of CFS defederation, and Lee-Fullerton said that she is ready to seek direction from student leadership on this issue.

She noted the importance of the relationship between the General Manager and the executives, as the General Manager is there to respond to the objectives of the student leadership.

Lee-Fullerton cites seven years of experience with student unions as preparation for her new role. She anticipates being able to begin moving forward with the UTSU promptly due to her familiarity with student unions and their governing structures.

Lee-Fullerton told The Varsity that she has worked with two other student unions prior to the UTSU. She said that she was the Clubs Coordinator and later the Student Groups and Engagement Coordinator at the former student union of Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. She added that, similar to the role of General Manager in the UTSU, she had worked with the Executive Committee to create initiatives to increase student engagement. She also told the The Varsity that she was the Events Manager and eventually the Director of Programs and Services at the Students’ Association of MacEwan University, which oversaw a portfolio encompassing clubs, events, programs, and services across three campuses.

As a project manager, Lee-Fullerton said that she has also worked with student building projects in various stages, akin to the Student Commons. Aside from student unions, she said that she has also worked for a municipality and within the private sector.

“Over the years, I’ve been able to see and be a part of some great organizations that produce some really great work for students. I look forward to being part of a healthy and well-executing UTSU team.”

UTSU Board of Directors approves $300,000 in accessibility spending

Money approved for Med Sci entrances, archives final move of outgoing board

UTSU Board of Directors approves $300,000 in accessibility spending

On April 29, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Board of Directors approved a $250,000 donation for a project to make the Medical Sciences Building entrances more accessible, as well as $50,000 for a project to digitize the union’s archives. The spending approval occurred during the final meeting of the outgoing 2017/2018 Board of Directors.

The $250,000 donation was made toward the Landmark Project, which is an initiative by U of T to beautify the St. George campus while also making it more accessible. The donation comes from the Wheelchair Accessibility Fund (WAF). WAF is bankrolled by a $1.00 per session levy collected by the UTSU to make UTSU events and services accessible.

Specifically, the UTSU wants to improve accessibility for the north and east entrances to the Medical Sciences Building. There are plans to replace the stairway entrances from King’s College Circle and from Queen’s Park with wheelchair-accessible ramps. In recognition of the donation, the new entrances will be named after the UTSU, with the current proposal being “The UTSU Welcome Path.”

At the board meeting, outgoing Vice-President Internal Daman Singh made it clear that the money for the donation is not taken from the UTSU’s operating budget, as this money “can only be used with approval from the board on capital accessibility projects.” Currently, the UTSU estimates that there is over $1.5 million in the fund.

In addition to the Landmark Project donation, the outgoing board also voted to allocate $50,000 from the WAF for the UTSU’s project to digitize its archives. These funds will go towards expenses such as hiring DOCUdavit, a document scanning and storage company. The UTSU announced on April 20 that it had been in the process of digitizing all documents from its 100-year history to be made available to the public on April 23. As of press time, the archives are not yet public.

Singh said that the UTSU is undertaking this project because “anything that the UTSU has that can be public should be public.” He added that exceptions would be made for documents relating to human resources issues, for privacy reasons.

The approval of this expenditure was the last major action taken by the outgoing Board of Directors. The new board, which met directly after the outgoing board’s meeting, approved all items on its agenda, including the transfer of signing authority, a spending authorization resolution, and the election of a finance committee composed of members of the board.

As the incoming Vice-President Internal, Tyler Biswurm described that the spending authorization resolution acts as a provisional budget in the transitional period between boards. The resolution approved $316,124.58 in spending based on the actuals of last May.