Despite a rejection from students at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in November, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union’s (SCSU) Board of Directors voted to give an additional $4,500 to the UTSC Women’s and Trans Centre (WTC) for its annual conference.
During the AGM, the WTC requested $7,000 for its Making HERstory 2019 conference, but students voted to reduce the amount to $2,500.
This was largely due to concerns about the SCSU’s financial situation, as well as reluctance over giving such a large amount, especially because the WTC already receives $40,000 in levies.
At the board meeting on November 27, Political Science Director Raymond Dang motioned to give the WTC an additional $4,500 to complete the $7,000 that it requested for the conference. Dang called it a “one-time special amount.”
The money would be drawn from the SCSU’s unrestricted contingency fund. This fund does not include Health, Dental, and Student Centre Reserve funds.
While debating this motion, SCSU Physical and Environmental Science Director Zakia Fahmida Taj said that the student body already decided on this matter during the AGM. “We’re supposed to be representing the student body itself,” Taj said.
SCSU President Nicole Brayiannis agreed, saying that she would be “cautious” about giving more money.
In response, Dang claimed that there was “misinformation” during the AGM, which caused students to assume that the SCSU would be put into deficit if the full $7,000 was provided to the WTC.
Dang’s motion said that the SCSU has a “$66,745 allocation to [the] contingency reserve.”
Brayiannis proposed that the requested additional amount of $4,500 be reduced to $2,500, which would be added to the $2,500 previously settled during the AGM, totalling to $5,000.
According to Brayiannis, since students at the AGM already agreed on $2,500, and that $7,000 was too high, a total of $5,000 would be an “assured amount.”
SCSU Vice-President Equity Chemi Lhamo agreed with Brayiannis’ motion. She said that because of the “lack of information” at the AGM, students also chose not to fund sponsorship opportunities like the multi-faith initiative.
“By allowing one entity to access a certain unrestricted fund, I do not think that upholds the values of the union,” Lhamo said.
Several other students expressed their confusion as to why the SCSU could not provide the original requested money. Executive Director Francis Pineda said that the budget is “healthy” and that there are funds to support this motion.
Lhamo said that it is “not smart to overspend just because there is money.”
Dang argued that the money was needed because “$2,500 plus $2,500 does not equal $7,000. It equals $5,000. That is not sufficient funding [for the conference].”
Tensions rose in the room and the chair requested for people not to communicate with each other in a “distracting way,” and that people should not slam their name cards down.
Dang also asked the room to “keep things civil” and not to call people names in public or private conversation. He asked others to refrain from using “bad language.”
WTC members expressed that the WTC was already “exhausting [its] resources,” having been rejected by Hart House to receive help with funding. They added that the WTC was already in collaboration with internal and external clubs.
Brayiannis’ motion to amend the amount from $4,500 to $2,500 failed. The motion for the $4,500 to be provided to the WTC passed and the meeting moved on to the in-camera session.
At around 10:00 pm, Brayiannis motioned for the meeting to table, which passed. This meant that the remaining items on the agenda would all be moved to the next meeting in January.
The Varsity has reached out to Lhamo, Dang, and the WTC for comment.