Every year, UTMSU’s Annual General Meeting is one of the most important stories The Medium covers. To put it lightly, there has always been some tension.
Back when Ali Kasim was our Editor-in-Chief, three years ago now, we discovered that many of the proxy forms used at the UTMSU AGM were obtained through fraudulent means and were quickly (and quietly) destroyed immediately after. The next year, under Alain Latour, we found that UTMSU’s distribution of proxies used by UTM students at the U of T Students’ Union AGM was, to say the least, questionable. Since then there haven’t been any major scandals, but the distrust lives on. I still hear about how The Medium has been biased in our coverage of UTMSU, and the issues surrounding past AGMs have always been used as a reference.
However unfounded these claims may be (I have yet to see a news article skewed against the union, even if there are some where the facts we report aren’t pretty), they continue to dominate the discourse surrounding the AGM and, by extension, our continued coverage of the union. And although I could do without the tension, it certainly makes this job interesting.
With that in mind, I’ll take a look at last week’s UTMSU AGM and focus on two issues that I feel deserve special attention.
First and foremost, I was shocked by the number of proxy votes used at the meeting. As discussed in our cover article and again by Mr. Cassar below, while there were only around 90 members in attendance, 700 votes were entered by proxy. In other words, 88% of the votes were cast by people who not only weren’t present, but might have had no idea how their votes would be used. Assuming that all of the proxy votes were collected through proper means, there are of course no legal implications—it’s well within UTMSU’s rights to collect them—but I still find it strange that such an overwhelming amount of voters acted through a third party.
The second issue, and the one that directly affects The Medium, was the change in UTMSU’s constitution that effectively discontinued the practice of giving notice of elections in our newspaper. “Campus newspaper” was changed to “campus publication” in their bylaws, thus allowing them for the first time to publicly announce their elections without advertising in our newspaper. What these other campus publications are, I don’t know. I have yet to hear of any other UTM outlets that provide ad or promotional space to external organizations.
The idea that this change might have been made to do anything other than bypass The Medium is laughable. More importantly, I think it only serves to create more distance between our two organizations. Perhaps this is a good thing—some would argue that less interdependence among campus organizations leads to better coverage. I believe it will only lead to more tension.
Michael Di Leo