UTMSU pays legal fees

UTMSU under fire for donation to UTSU


On June 17, the UTM Student Union (UTMSU) made a donation of $1,000 to Angela Regnier, the executive director of the University of Toronto Students Union (UTSU). Reignier, who is not a student but full-time staff, was one of three protesters arrested on charges of mischief interference with property last month during a Tamil protest that occupied the Gardiner Expressway for six hours.

The motion to donate the money was approved at a UTMSU Board of Directors meeting following a written request from UTSU President Sandy Hudson. We would ask that you donate today to support the constitutional rights of individuals to demonstrate peacefully and participate in civil disobedience, wrote Hudson.

UTSU has started a legal fund for Regnier and is calling on student unions in the GTA to donate toward the legal fees. During the UTMSU Board of Directors meeting many questions were raised regarding this controversial motion, which had already been approved by the UTMSU executive committee but needed further approval from their Board.

Nabeel Jafri, a UTMSU director, spoke out against the donation. The cops have the right to arrest anyone if they are blocking a major highway, he argued. Another director, Sunil Shah, questioned whether this motion was ethical or merely presented to support an ally of the Student Union. UTMSU President Joey Santiago however, disagreed. In a statement issued to The Medium, Santiago declared he believed Reignier was targeted by the Toronto police. We see her arrest as an intimidation tactic that is meant to discourage allies and other groups outside the Tamil community from showing support. Santiago recognized that Regnier is a staff member of a sister student union but maintained that this represents no conflict of interest.

When asked whether the Student Union felt this donation was a good use of student dollars, Santiago defended the donation: We have been elected to voice the opinion of students and protect their interests and while there may be debate and opposing viewpoints on issues, ultimately decisions are decided through a democratic process, and funds are allocated accordingly.

If taken to trial, Regniers legal costs could spiral upwards of $10,000.


[poll id=”12″]

  • You’ve got to be kidding me. Block a major highway for hours, get arrested for doing so, and then have MY tuition dollars bail you out?

    “We have been elected to voice the opinion of students and protect their interests”.

    I’m sorry Joey, but my interests are to keep my tuition dollars in the pockets of the school and the professors to whose classes I attend. I wholeheartedly disapprove of my money going to bail out some rebel who blocks a major highway to further a protest, regardless of issue.

    Whether it be tuition fee hikes, Tamil genocide, or the outlawing of tomatoes (hey, it could happen), if you get arrested during a protest, YOU pay the consequences, not the entire student body.

    In my opinion, this is a complete abuse of our tuition fees. I’m so glad I pay more than $8000 a year to support this.

  • josh






  • UTMSU does not seem to realize that if they were ever in a similar situation UTSU would never assist our student’s or our campus.

    On numerous occasions we have asked, for in-kind, support from UTSU and they have always, always turned us down.

    To me Angela Regnier is just another person. Why does she have to get so much support and help for consequences of her own actions? If a student union was boasting about equality for all, then wouldn’t they help the others arrested?

    Echoing my sentiments from before, choosing to protest in such a careless manner will result in consequences. Consequences that are a direct result of an INDIVIDUALS participation.

    As for comments stating that there is no conflict of interest? There most certainly is! Within the student union world everything is tit-for-tat. I would know, I’ve been there long enough. Except this time, as always, UTSU wont be there for you UTMSU.

    Shame. Someone ought to give the Board a voice, I feel like they’re following motions and not understanding they have the power to say NO.

  • Michael

    I am glad that that UTMSU is supporting Angela Regnier and the Canadian Tamil Community.

    Great Job UTMSU

    PS: To all those whining, go get a life

  • Sameer, I too noticed the Polls jump suddenly and have fixed multiple voting.

  • Ahmed

    The article is wrong. If a donation goes to a legal defense fund, it’s not going to the individual, so it’s incorrect to say the donation was to “Angela Regnier”. There’s a big difference.

    Student unions, and unions in general, donate to legal defense funds all the time. Historically, when student protestors at UofT have been charged after a non-violent demonstration, student unions and trade unions across the country sent money in to their legal defense fund. This isn’t new.

    Whatever you think of the Tamil situation, when police arrest people just for being at a protest, I think it’s something student unions should be defending. I’d rather my student union money go to something useful like this than yet another pub night for white kids.

  • michael

    A.K.A Walied, UTMSU, UTSU, The CONSPIRACY! Sameer..

    Why so upset Sameer,

    Someone disagrees with you and your quick on the attack!

    Seriously get a life. I really don’t mind if UTMSU made a donation to help out on a legal case. If i were arrested in the drop Fees demo that i attended i would have wanted my student Union to bail me out.

    PS: R.I.P Michael Jackson

  • Ahmed

    Sameer, I don’t know who you are but I’m not Walied (the webmaster can look at my IP if he wants).

    I know it surprises you that some students can have a different opinion than you, but I’m just pointing out that the article is inaccurate.

    If you want to talk about conflict of interest, let’s talk about the News Editor of the Medium being the one who spoke out against this at the UTMSU board meeting.

    Objective reporting?

  • Nepotism at its finest.

    So let me get this straight, the fact that she is an active member of the student union had absolutely no impact on the decision to donate to her situation? If this is indeed the truth, I have some unresolved parking tickets that I could use some help with. Uhh, I guess the parking maids gave me tickets as an intimidation tactic that was meant to discourage anyone else for parking without an insanely expensive parking pass.

    The simple truth is that she did not get arrested for protesting. She got arrested for obstructing one of the busiest highways in the city causing danger not only to herself but the vehicles on the road as well.

    That whole speech about protecting student interests is complete bull. How exactly does this help the general student body? I can respect the council

  • A legal defence fund is set aside by the union to help any student who is in a situation where they cannot help themselves. That is correct.

    In this specific case, UTSU is using the money solely for Angela Regnier. They may have worded the motion as being inclusive of all individuals, however, Angela is the only one who this money will support.

    I find it amusing that, whether they be students or Walied, the students Michael and Ahmed have so much detailed information about union executives and their activities. This is not to say transparency is wrong, I’m just wondering if you two are “regular” students, how do you have access to this information?

  • As a previous BOD, Associate VP Campus Life, and Minister of Student Life, I have been an active student leader and have dealt with many controversial motions. I would like to know what is so wrong with speaking out when you feel something is unjust?

    Are you trying to say that Miss. Malik was wrong for having a brian? For having an opinion that she was able to voice?

    Are you saying the Board should blindly follow what their executives ask of them? This is what it sounds like.

    Next time you go to a Board meeting, see how much the board members actually talk, see how much they actually get any questions answered. Only then you will know, why they feel like they have to vote a certain way.

    It’s dirty politics. Everybody wants to stay in the game. There’s one way up, but there are a hundred ways to get there. Sadly, our leaders at the top wont let the board know that. They make them feel powerless and insignificant if they don’t vote like sheep in a herd.

  • It’s not about what “we are allowed to know” Ahmed. It’s what we DO know vs. what you don’t know.

    Please come out to meetings and learn about it full circle. Don’t go by what your friends say.

    I just have to say that I know people and I know how to read through the lines. I have reason to believe some people posting here aren’t who they are saying they are.

  • NabeelJafri

    Personal involvement on Saaliha’s part? She is NOT a part of the UTMSU any more. I really don’t see why you are calling her on out on that.

    She was an attendee at the meeting. ANY student is allowed to come and sit through the meeting, Ahmed. You are more than welcome to do so too.

  • Damian

    The whole “get a life” argument is inane and has is a terrible cop out. We’re all entitled to our opinions. I feel that donating $1000 to someone who OF THEIR OWN ACCORD decided to participate in civil disobedience and obstruction of a major highway (which everyone knows carries inherent physical, legal and financial risks) is a frivolous waste of UTM students tuition. Not only that but it smacks of favouring special interest groups. If I (an alumni, but for the sake of argument, a current student) were to be arrested for protesting the unethical treatment of lobsters, would I also receive funds for my legal defence?

    It’s bad enough that UTMSU saw fit to raise their own salaries (just like real politicians!), but this is a bit much.

    If you do the crime, you do the time I say.

  • Ahmed

    Toronto Star writers are citizens, and as citizens they have a right to participate in city council meetings and consultations.

    But can you imagine a Toronto Star writer showing up to a city council consultation, arguing in favour of one side of the debate, and then writing an “objective” news story about it, without admitting their own bias?

  • Miss. Malik did not argue, she informed.

    Big difference Ahmed.

    I hope you’re not an English student.

  • Ahmed

    Coincidentally, I am an English student!

    argue: provide reasons supporting or challenging something.

  • UTMSU raising their salaries is a whole other issue, but thank you for bringing that up Damian! Not many people knew about that. So much for the “transparency” student’s were promised.

    And, sad as it is, I’m quite sure if you or any student was in a similar situation you would not receive this much assistance and financial support.

    I echo your sentiments, if you do the crime, you do the time.

  • Journalists always pose statements/questions to inform individuals and get the topic going.

    Had the Board only heard, “Angela is in need, we must help her. She was arrested by the police for speaking out.” they would simply vote yes on the notion of the argument being emotionally sympathetic.

    Miss. Malik allowed a situation to arise where people had to think and react to knowing all sides of the story. Is that not what you want from your student leaders? People who can think and act rationally with ALL the information?

  • Miss. Malik did not DEBATE at the meeting. She informed.

    For an English student, Ahmed, you’re pretty lousy at remembering what people wrote.

    Also, how else must we inform people that Saaliha Malik wrote the article? It clearly shows on the left hand side near the title who the author is.

    Ahmed why do you have to use a fake email from mailinator.com where you can create temporary email addresses with no registration required? Mailinator.com deletes any sent emails after a certain time and is one of the world’s top temporary email address sites. Do we have reason to believe you aren’t who you are? Yes.

    You used a typical student union move by shifting the discussion to who wrote the article rather than the issue itself. Quite tactical I must say.

  • Damian

    Just to jump in once more: Considering that she is against the idea, she framed it fairly neutrally. As a writer trying to entice discussion one typically needs to “pick” a side and present it more heavily, just as one would argue a thesis with several points and offer only one counter-point.

    Furthermore her objectivity barely enters the equation. Remove all the quotes and the story is this: UTMSU donates $1000 to aid the legal defence of a UTSU member arrested on charges of mischief interference with property.

    THAT’s what people are angry about, not any quotes in the article.

  • Meredith

    The accusations of bias have little to do with the article. Saaliha presents both sides of the argument, the quotations she includes appear accurate, and they are from appropriate sources. It seems to me that all involved were represented fairly. I couldn’t care less what she said at the meeting, the article speaks for itself. Good work!

  • I agree with DAMIAN 110%!

    “Just to jump in once more: Considering that she is against the idea, she framed it fairly neutrally. As a writer trying to entice discussion one typically needs to “pick” a side and present it more heavily, just as one would argue a thesis with several points and offer only one counter-point.
    Furthermore her objectivity barely enters the equation. Remove all the quotes and the story is this: UTMSU donates $1000 to aid the legal defence of a UTSU member arrested on charges of mischief interference with property.

  • Find me the bias in the article.

    Is there any? I didn’t think so.

    You’d get a fail if this was your English class analysis work.

  • Ahmed

    Razan, copying and pasting a comment doesn’t make it any less false.

  • It’s not false!

    Are you even reading what people are writing???

  • The article clearly shows 3 POV’s:

    One view is that of a student who did not agree with the $1000 bailout.

    Another student did not say if it was right or wrong but rather if we should be doing it at all.

    And lastly, Joey Santiago’s comments that defend the union’s decisions.

    3 different sentiments, 3 views, 3 people, and 1 article.

    3 POV’s. Tell me how that’s biased Ahmed?

  • Ahmed

    Sorry to break it to you, but participating in a debate at a student union meeting means you are involved.

  • Razan


    It was not a debate. She told everybody a fact. She didn’t argue or rebut.

    Simply participating in a meeting did not give her voting authority.

  • Hi Saad, the I appreciate your concern. The comment was removed because it violated The Medium Online Terms of Use Section 6a.