UTMSU’s eighth board meeting last Monday saw appointments to two vacant positions in Division IV, directors for part-time students. From the four candidates, the board appointed Salem Aboghodieh and Atika Azhar.
Salem Aboghodieh was the only one who ran for the Division 4 position in the fall by-elections, but the election results were never validated. According to executive director Walied Khogali, this was due to “human error”.
“I was […] given notice that I could go through an interim election by the Board of Directors,” said Aboghodieh.
Aboghodieh did not elaborate about the details of the error, but said that he is “very serious about proposing changes to UTMSU’s board of directors so that errors like this will not happen again”.
When asked for clarification, UTMSU president Hassan Havili said, “The results of the Division IV constituency was [a]ffected by human error made by election staff,” and that members of the Elections and Referenda Committee had met with the candidate to apologize for the error.
Aboghodieh also said that in October the board had approved a motion to develop a procedural guide for electoral staff, called the “CRO and DRO Procedural Guide”, that would serve as a guideline for future electoral staff to prevent similar errors from happening again. A draft for the guide was presented on Monday.
In order to fill the two vacancies in Division IV, UTMSU conducted an interim election at Monday’s board meeting, in accordance with bylaws that state that vacancies left after November 1 shall be filled by an interim election at the board.
Earlier this month, UTMSU sent out emails to all students requesting applications for their two vacant positions in Division IV. After the executive committee reviewed the resumes, they recommended four people to the board of directors.
One of those four candidates apologized and did not come to the meeting, leaving Aboghodieh, Azhar, and one other candidate.
Khogali said that the process of appointing the directors would have been passed to the board whether or not there had been an error in the original by-elections, since there would still have been a vacancy with only one candidate running.
When presenting herself to the board, Azhar said she would advocate for more communication with people on an individual level. She mentioned that there isn’t much involvement from part-time students. Her concerns also involved food issues—she pointed out that most places are not open late, and suggested having a snack bar available during the late hours for students.
Aboghodieh’s goals included being transparent and improving the communication with the students. He said he would also talk to the university administration to address the concerns that part-time students have. He also raised the problem that the library closes at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, leaving students with limited areas for studying late at night.
Other motions that took place at the meeting involved increases to student levies based on the yearly Consumer Price Index rates.
The fee for UTMSU student societies will increase from $13.85 per session per full-time member and from $1.02 per session per part-time member.
Additionally, a motion was passed to increase the U-Pass service fee by 9%. The move will increase the fee from $170.30 to $185.63 for the fall and winter sessions for both full-time and part-time members. As for the summer U-Pass, the fee will be increased from $112.02 to $122.10.
There will also be an increase for the Erindale College Special Response Team, the UTMSU food bank, and the student refugee program, known as World University Service of Canada.
Khogali noted that these CPI adjustments take place every year.
Other business brought up at the meeting included upcoming events, including a Cultural Week scheduled for January, the UTM Film Festival held annually by the Department of Visual Studies Student Society, and UTM’s Got Talent next semester.
VP equity Melissa Theodore also said she will be pushing for a sexual assault policy at the university and called for support from the board.
The next board meeting date is yet to be announced.