During UTMSU’s AGM last Wednesday, all motions passed, including the removal of UTMSU’s nine ministries, creating three new commissions, and working toward a Student Centre expansion. The meeting concluded in just over one hour.
According to UTMSU’s VP internal Jackie Zhao, The Duck Stop convenience store has experienced deficits worth $16,461 because of its start-up cost.
Zhao also stated that UTMSU has raised its minimum wages to $13 per hour and has hired more students, in addition to extending the hours of operation from 8:00 a.m. to midnight on weekdays.
Ministries were also among the higher costs this year with $225,579, while in 2015, they costed $163,437. Zhao stated that the increase was particularly because of the “Free Breakfast Wednesdays” that now feed between 350 and 400 people a year, which is more than last year. UTMSU has also been holding more events like the Block Party and the trip to see the Raptors game that contributed to the higher cost.
Maintenance has also costed $192,376 this year, $143,945 more than last year, which, according to Zhao, was due to the breakage of a boiler in the Student Centre that had to be replaced.
Removal of ministries
A motion to remove the ministries of UTMSU has been passed. There are currently nine ministries, including the Ministry of International Students, Ministry of Student Services, Ministry of Education and Outreach, Ministry of Student Life, Ministry of University Affairs & Academics, and the Ministry of Social Justice.
UTMSU’s president Nour Alideeb stated at the AGM that they noticed a decline in the students’ involvements at the ministries, since they have to give nine hours of their week to participate in the meetings.
The commissions will offer a place where students can discuss their concerns and what they want to see in the services that UTMSU provides. They will also offer an “intersectional space” for students to take part in leadership roles, develop new ideas, and give back to their communities.
A student asked how UTMSU will make sure to maintain the nine ministries’ platforms in their new commissions. Alideeb said that they “never want to group things together and further marginalize individuals,” adding that commissioners will be able to discuss different items and call out on different students, depending on what they want.
Another student, Abdel Rahman Mouftah, asked what strategies UTMSU will use to “make sure that nothing gets overlooked.”
Alideeb stated that in this year’s commission meetings, they already divided the sessions into two. The first half was a discussion of issues pertaining to students, while the second half was splitting the students into the different ministries. She explained that they would have a similar type of structure, where a portion of the meeting would be everyone together, and another portion would involve discussing specific issues.
The last student centre referendum that took place three years ago failed. “Three years later, the individuals who are still left are feeling the suffocation because of the size,” said Alideeb.
UTMSU will plan drop-in sessions, online forums, and consultation groups. Alideeb also clarified that the university has a say in regards to what happens to the buildings on campus.
When asked by student Salma Fakhry when they should expect to see the referendum get done, Alideeb stated that she does not want to rush the process.
“I’m hoping that the referendum can be held in a maximum of two years,” she said.
Another point on the agenda was the auditor’s appointment. Zhao suggested that UTMSU keep the same auditors from before, given that a “good practice” would be to change them every five to seven years.
Alideeb explained that the current auditors are estimated to have been there for five to six years now.