Inside the UTSU Election

From Tuesday March 10 until Thursday March 12, students at the University of Toronto will be voting to elect a new student union, which will either be the Change U of T slate of candidates or the Demand Access ticket.

Jason Marin from Change and Adam Awad from Demand Access discuss their reasons for running and what their tickets represent.

Adam Awad:

I am running with Demand Access, a team of people who are dedicated to students’ rights, more engagement on campus, and the students’ ability to access a high-quality education in all of its forms with as few barriers as possible. Our plan is to address a wide range of issues affecting students, from lobbying for food services to be open later, advocating for UTM students to be able to declare a credit pass/fail, working with the green movement on each campus to push Naylor into signing the Presidential Climate Commitment, to extending the Health Plan benefits without increasing the fee.

Demand Access is a group of experienced student leaders, some who are running for re-election and fresh faces from colleges and campus clubs. We believe that there are three main roles of the students’ union to: provide money-saving, student-run services, offer fun and free events, as well as to advocate for the rights of students. Some student leaders might prioritise organising club nights, and de-emphasise students’ rights. I don’t because, with the government considering a twenty-five percent tuition fee increase, we need to have a students’ union that organises, along with services and events, against higher costs of education. The election is a great time to have this debate.

I am confident that students will choose the best candidates to serve them next year. A team’s ability to communicate their platform to students will be a factor in deciding the election results but so will their platform and what they stand for. Demand Access is a strong contender because our team represents unity across the colleges, the diversity of our school, experience and effective leaders, and we are proud of our ideas to make UofT a community we can all access, study and enjoy.

Jason Marin:

I am running for President to bring back the student voice at the U.T.S.U. and inject the student union with a healthy and much needed dose of  a new style of transparency in governance, a firm commitment to supporting clubs and through them building community, and enhancing the services that U.T.S.U. offers for its members. Collectively, the Change slate brings many years of experience, leadership and good rapport with other student leaders which will help us implement our platform. The trust, respect and credibility we bring to the table is key. By reaching out to clubs and student leaders, by providing better services, and by effective lobbying we will provide a better student experience.

We believe leadership is achieved through empowerment; it is not a top-down process that can be demanded. The members on our ticket have risen through the ranks of student leadership, with either a College council or student society background, which gives us a good vantage point of assessing what the priorities are for students and clubs, and how the U.T.S.U. can engage those issues.

Fighting with the university to lower tuition fees has been a long and protracted battle, and the Change slate feels that we can convince the University to lower its tuition if we are able to force the provincial government to provide more funding for U of T and other schools. Our approach to campus life is one that involves giving our clubs more funding, making it easier for them to book space on campus, and ensuring that there is an effective flow of communication and collaboration between student societies.

The executives on the Change Slate are fully committed to upholding the Memorandum of Agreement between UTM and UofT. Moreover, our UTM Platform also speaks to our commitment to reaching to students at both campuses; we seek to allow more than four credits to be transferred between students at either campus, as well as cross-promote events and campaigns.

Photos/Naushad Ali Hussein

  • Jeremy

    When Adam Awad speaks about experience, I tend to laugh. He was appointed three months ago, and hasn’t any accomplishments to speak of. He claims to have “chaired” the sustainability commission this year, but had never shown up to any meetings this year. Furthermore, no one takes him seriously at the college or UTM level. It’s time to move on.