Disappointed with the union

Dear Editor,


I am graduating in June this year. I wanted to take the opportunity to express my experience as an engaged student at UTM and my disappointment with UTMSU.

On November 25, 2011, the UTM Women’s Centre and UTMSU collaborated for the annual Montreal Massacre Memorial. Ruba El-Kadri was asked to be the student speaker for the event, and had requested examples of speeches from previous years to refer to as a “template”. I emailed her a copy of the speech I gave for last year’s memorial, with the assumption that she would form a speech of her own and use my speech as a “template”. Unfortunately, much of her speech was directly copied and only contained additions when required to address the UTMSU’s “efforts”. This speech was important to the Centre and to me, and many of my sentiments were expressed as her own. Later on in the event, Ruba informed me that she did in fact “use” the speech, not referring to it as a “template”.


I find this extremely unethical, because it wasn’t appropriate to inform me of this in front of our guests. If certain parts of my speech were to be used, I should have been asked prior to the event. I was disappointed because not only was my work copied without proper consent, but UTMSU was not prepared on their own merit. The union committed to help with the memorial but was not as prepared as I had hoped they would be. I would also like to note that the UTMWC had maintained consistent contact with Ruba regarding the event. This is an important event for the Women’s Centre and Ruba displayed a lack of respect for my team, the Centre, and the sentiment of my speech.


My disappointment with the union was reaffirmed after the lack of involvement with our benefit concert for the global organization Keep a Breast Canada. Ruba did not take an initiative as VP Equity to be more involved with the Women’s Centre and be a part of this event with the union. Further, there was no attendance by her or any other union executive at the event. Our event clashed with the Raptors vs. Celtics game, for which UTMSU organized tickets; therefore, I understand the lack of attendance by more executives. However, not even one executive was present at the concert in spite of knowing the importance of their attendance.


I fail to understand why the union cannot address their duties to the organizations and students of UTM. I often find there is a partiality to certain events, maybe if it is entertaining or to their benefit, but do they really get paid that much money to have a good time—or to do their job?


I would like to greatly emphasize that this is purely my opinion and my experience with UTMSU. I am certain that I am neglecting particular facts that reflect their finest abilities. But I choose to focus on these concerns because I find it shocking how issues like plagiarism or lack of preparation and attendance for events should occur in an organization that students elect and give their trust to. I also find that people consistently have negative feedback about the union because, in my opinion, the union members forget their primary duties towards students. Again, this is what I perceive and has only been proven by my own experience. If a student wishes to be involved on campus academically, sports, etc., it is an “initiative” taken for their interests and passions. Therefore, where is the “initiative” of the “student” union when engaging with and representing students?


That is what I wish to end with. I know there is not much to gain out of this letter, especially since I am graduating and any positive change will have no impact for me. But I do think it is important to make people aware of what can be changed for the better. I also know I might be badly refuted for this letter because my opinion may affect the way the union is perceived. I simply hope that my own opinion can be respected. Thank you.


—Antara Ashra

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