During the last weeks of summer…

Dear Editor,

During the last weeks of summer, I focussed on only one thing: finding a job. Since my schedule doesn’t let me leave campus (my classes are spread apart and I commute), my best alternative was to apply at UTM. In late August, I applied for the server/cashier position at the Blind Duck.

Unaware of the formal application process, I went directly to the Blind Duck manager, Shane Madhani. He told me that UTMSU did all the hiring. After I submitted my application, Delphino Gilbert Cassar II, VP Internal Services, told me that the deadline to apply for the position was September 8 and that I should expect a response no later than September 10. When I received no response by September 11, I decided to talk to him again. He reassured me on three occasions that he’d send me an email shortly.

Finally, on Sept 15, after five days and several bump-ins, I received an email that said I was chosen for an interview. I told  the UTMSU executive that I wasn’t impressed by the late response. After all, they are our representatives and being slow to respond isn’t acceptable. Perhaps the reason I didn’t get the job is because I expressed myself too overtly to the VP Internal.

In the end, I was told that the pub couldn’t accommodate my availability. I guess 12-16 hours/week isn’t enough. We’re always told not to bite the hand that feeds us, but as students it’s our right and obligation to make sure the UTMSU is doing their job. We must also keep in mind that we’re attending a university, and deadlines are everything. So if you’re busy, fine, but please do not tell me that you will email me on an exact date. Instead, give me a ballpark of when you’ll email me—doesn’t that make more sense?

As executives, they should do their job efficiently. I am not writing this letter because I didn’t receive the position at the pub, but because I don’t understand why UTMSU is even doing the hiring. The pub has separate management and the workers report to Mr. Madhani. Is it a way to gain more power over certain aspects of UTM? Or to keep their supporters engaged in UTMSU aspects?

Every time I hear the UTMSU speak, I hear about past accomplishments. I recently attended a meeting where we were to be informed on how to start a club and get funding and so forth. At the start, Vickita Bhatt, president and official spokesperson of UTMSU, briefly introduced the executives and then spoke about past campaigns and accomplishments. One that caught my attention was the 2006 reduced parking fees. Yes, this was a big accomplishment, but does the fact that UTMSU is reciting successes from four years ago mean that our union has done nothing since?

Besides, they’re not being very effective; $10,000+ was spent on the drop fees campaign last year, but this year our tuition and parking fees have only increased. Perhaps that campaign wasn’t the way to go when we want the president of U of T and the government to take us seriously. Maybe students shouting demands and being aggressive are not good ways to go about things.

What I can’t understand is how our student union expects to conquer these issues if they can’t even put enough microwaves in our school. We wait in line for 20 minutes to heat up our food, since there’s only one microwave in the South Building and one in the Student Centre (the one in the North is MIA!). But I forgot—the UTMSU doesn’t have to worry about bringing their food from home and heating it. They can afford to buy campus food. Well, with a $20,000+ salary, (paid for by student tuition) who wouldn’t?

On September 22 I attended the Commission meetings, open to all UTM students. Once again, they introduced the UTMSU executives. During the speech, Ms. Bhatt said that she was so proud for the huge turnout at the meeting. There were about 50 students. At least 15 of them were UTMSU executives, including board members. UTM has over 11,000 students; I don’t think you need to be a genius at math to realize that 50 out of 11,000 students is not a huge or impressive turnout. Quite frankly, it’s sad. But maybe it’s to their advantage: the fewer new people getting involved, the less opposition they’ll face for their agenda.

Halfway through the meeting, no more than 25 people remained. No one is interested in the union and their decisions. I’m here writing this letter to encourage you to attend all meetings open to students, and if you’re interested, get involved as much as possible.

We need to make sure our money is going to good use. We need to make sure our student union is serving our needs, and we need to make sure that the political system at UTM is fair to everyone. Let’s see if our student union will hold to their word and be willing to make a united UTM, hearing from all students, whether they support or oppose their agenda. After all, we hold the power, because our money cuts their paycheques. Let’s make them work for it. Remember: we pay to be here, but they get paid to be here!


Mariana Comito

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