The Black Liberation Collective released a statement last week calling to boycott the University of Toronto Students Union.
Alleging that UTSU has been committing “anti-Black racism” for the last two years, the BLC statement explains that the Black community has experienced anti-Black racism from UTSU through “an increased attack and dismissal of their Black student membership” and “lack of accountability to the Black community in Toronto”.
The BLC also addressed its complaints regarding the former UTSU executive team of 2015-2016, saying that it received a lack of support and unequal funding compared to other clubs.
“While many student clubs including other similarly large clubs [as BSA] received their funding in the Fall, the BSA did not receive such funding. […] The BSA was notified in February of its funding allocation,” read the statement.
“As a result of a lack of funding being received prior to February 2016, the BSA was unable to provide secured resources to host events and initiatives for Black students that year […]”
In an email to The Medium, UTSU’s president, Jasmine Wong Denike, along with other UTSU executives, stated that “all clubs received their funding too slowly last year, due to errors on the part of the UTSU.”
“The problem was not unique to the Black Students’ Association,” they added.
BLC has called for an apology from UTSU and for the union to drop its lawsuit against UTSU’s former executive director, Sandra Hudson.
As previously reported by The Medium, UTSU filed a lawsuit against former president Yolen Bollo-Kamara, former VP internal and services Cameron Wathey, and Hudson for $277,508.62 for “amounts improperly paid” to Hudson before her employment was terminated last year.
UTSU released a statement on October 16 on their Facebook page, addressing BLC’s concerns.
“We would like to make clear that the management of the ongoing litigation is the exclusive responsibility of the Executive Committee. The Board of Directors has the authority to initiate and to settle litigation on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, but has no role in the active management of litigation while it is ongoing,” read the statement.
“The current litigation was initiated in September 2015 by the previous Board, and the two subsequent settlements were approved by the previous Board.”
Other demands included a town hall within UTSU for the black community, for UTSU to make its operating budget public before the spring elections, and allocate an annual funding for the Black student groups at U of T.
“The UTSU takes seriously the concerns raised by the Black Liberation Collective, and commits to an open forum on anti-Black racism as well as a review of how student clubs are funded. We hope to work with both the BLC and the Black Students’ Association on both,” said the email from Denike along with the other UTSU executives.
In its Facebook statement, UTSU also confirmed that their commitment “to a town hall on anti-Black racism, as well as to a series of public consultations on the role of the UTSU as an institution.”