As the 2017/18 academic year concludes, The Medium reviews the University of Toronto Student Union’s policies and campaign promises they have achieved while in office.
Last year, the executive team, apart from independent candidate for vice president external Anne Boucher, ran as part of the Demand Better slate and one of their main platform points centered around rebuilding the UTSU from the ground up.
Some of the team’s main promises included restructuring the UTSU’s staff, board of directors, and services. The slate stated they wanted to address the issues of anti-blackness on campus and within the UTSU. They also wanted to advocate for more accessible public transportation and leaving the Canadian Federation of Students.
On March 31st of 2017, it was voted on at UTSU’s board meeting to lay off two full-time staff: Clubs and Service Groups Coordinator Vita Carlino and Health and Dental Plan Coordinator Maria Galvez. The UTSU stated this was done in order to ensure the long-term financial viability of the organization.
On March 14, 2018 the UTSU hosted a panel discussion titled “Blackness in White Institutions.” Vice-President Equity, Chimwemwe Alao, hosted the event and led the discussion on anti-Black racism at the University of Toronto.
Vice president external Anne Boucher headed the U-Commute initiative during the academic year, introducing a referendum to add a $280 per semester U-Pass for UTSG undergrad students. From March 26 to 28, St. George students will be asked to vote on whether they want the U-Pass. If the referendum passes, the UTSU will be able to offer students a discounted TTC pass. TTC has also announced their intent to support the transit pass as it is believed to increase ridership for public transit.
During the academic year, the UTSU supported You Decide U of T, a student-led campaign to hold a referendum on leaving the CFS, by creating a position titled Outreach Associate. The position handles strategies to make students aware of the campaign, while also collecting signatures, and coordinating class visits to speak to students.
During the unions Annual General Meeting on October 31 of 2017, UTSU president Mathias Memmel wanted to merge the VP university affairs position with the VP external position. He had argued that the union would run a deficit if they did not cut executive positions. Boucher argued then that it would be too much work for one individual to cover. The motion was eventually brought to a vote but failed to pass.
The UTSU elections are currently underway, with Boucher running for the position of president on the Compass slate against Michelle Mabira who is running as an independent candidate. The voting period is from Monday, March 26th to Wednesday, March 28th.