The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), which represents all full-time undergraduates at the St. George and Mississauga campuses, will hold its Annual General Meeting on October 30th.
The meeting comes amid negotiations between the UTSU and the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union to terminate their Associate Membership Agreement. The termination of the agreement would see both unions becoming their own separate entities.
The UTSU has allotted thirty minutes to endorse the separation of the UTSU and UTMSU.
According to the meeting’s agenda, the “respective Boards and Executive Committees of each union have exercised due diligence […] and have commenced the execution of the necessary legal, governance, and operational procedures to […] a smooth separation.”
In an article written by The Varsity, UTSU President Anne Boucher stated that the separation will give the UTMSU more freedom in their governance and increased revenue from UTM students, allowing the union to offer services it could not offer before.
Resolutions Submitted by Members
One of the submitted resolutions calls for the UTSU to reject the Ontario government’s new free speech policy. The policy came after the Ontario government released a statement instructing publicly funded Ontario colleges and universities to establish free speech policies or face funding cuts.
The resolution calls the government’s policy “Orwellian” and argues that the university policies will provide a “police-protected ‘safe space’ to anti-abortionists holding obscene displays, alt-right racists, and those denying the Holocaust.”
In an interview with The Medium, UTM Campus Conservatives president Harris Watkins denounced the resolution, calling it “dishonest” in how it describes the government’s campus free speech mandate.
“There is obviously no issue with the free assembly of opposition to something or a speaker,” he stated, “but protests which lead to threats of harm toward others simply cannot be tolerated.”
“I think it is horrid to group pro-life activists with Nazis,” said Watkins.
The resolution also argues that the University of Chicago’s statement of Principles of Free Expression, which university policies must reflect, “violates free speech rights” by having vague criteria such as “prohibiting disruptive protesting.”
“As the University of Chicago itself notes,” continued Watkins, “the freedom to speech is not absolute; it cannot violate the law, and it cannot impede on the institutional workings of the university—both of which are clearly in-line with the Ford government’s policy.”
“The policy […] should be upheld by all student unions’ across Ontario,” concluded Watkins. “With the policy, students of all viewpoints will have the ability to express themselves, in accordance with Canadian law, as they please. The result is more fruitful debates and dialogue on our campuses.”
Another resolution moves for an amendment to the UTSU’s current bylaw, III.1.a.iii. The bylaw requires members to submit policy proposals to the Board of Directors and have them approve of the proposals before the AGM. The amendment would allow union members to “adopt, rescind, or amend” procedural and operational policies, as well as submit amendments and additions to the Policies and Procedures.
Other resolutions include reviewing Orientation and Executive Committee Policies, updating the UTSU Conflict of Interest Policy, as well as discussing the Affiliated Student Societies Groups Policy.
The AGM will be live-streamed on the UTSU’s official Facebook page.
The full agenda can be found on the UTSU’s website at utsu.ca