The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU)’s spring 2020 election campaign period officially began last Monday and will continue until March 13.
The five positions available within the UTMSU executive office are president, vice-president internal, vice-president external, vice-president equity, and vice-president university affairs.
For the UTMSU board of directors, there are 14 seats available in total with 11 directors-at-large in division two, two part-time directors in division three, and one professional faculty seat in division four.
With only a week left until voting begins on March 10, the candidates for the executive team and the board of directors made their presence known all around campus with promotional posters. The candidates themselves went around campus to discuss their concerns and objectives with students.
The UTMSU elections have been composed of uncontested student slates ever since the spring 2018 elections with minor opposition by individual candidates. The composition of the current election is no exception.
Connect UTM, the only student slate in this year’s election, is running a full team with candidates campaigning for all available positions: Mitra Yakubi for president, Fahad Dayala for vice-president internal, Lily Pan for vice-president external, Anushka Sokhi for vice-president university affairs, and Noha Farawi for vice-president equity.
Connect UTM’s initiatives range from the organization of a peer-run support program, fighting for free education, improving parking and transit on campus, and continuing the conversations started by the current executive team.
The only opposition to Connect UTM’s slate is Med K, an independent candidate who is running for the position of vice-president internal. K’s campaign, with the slogan “promote new initiatives to improve student life,” includes initiatives such as advocating for student financial and mental well-being, enhancing the UTMSU’s transparency, and aiding students who face the challenge of taking three or more midterms in a single day.
For the 11 directors-at-large positions within division two there are 18 candidates: Sameer Naderi, Alvin Jeffrey Stanislaus, Xiaodan (Silvia) Zhou, Shehrabano Ali, Liza Nasir, Aadityam Modgal, Yiming Chen, Aditya Chopra, Taarika Salariya, Trudy Michelle McKnight, Lai Wei, Laiba Khan, Mohammad Shafullah, Maelis Barre, Wenhan Lou, Aysha Qureshi, Noor-Ul-Huda Masoom, and Juan David Cobo.
However, only seven candidates have submitted official campaign statements to the UTMSU.
The Medium spoke with students across campus regarding their experiences with the campaigns so far and what they would like to see from next year’s UTMSU executive team.
Amal Yusuf, a fourth-year student majoring in biology, said that she plans on voting once the voting period begins.
“I’ve seen a couple of posters around and spoken to a couple of representatives about what their party wanted to put forth on campus,” said Yusuf. “I would like to see more funding going to various student programs on campus.”
Hala Nayef, a first-year student studying environmental science, stated that she would like to see better food options and improvements “regarding mental health services and the accessibility of the services.”
A second-year environmental science and human geography major who would like to remain anonymous said that she had also come across campaign posters and plans to vote. “I’ve seen posters and I’ve seen some of my friends endorse other people,” said the student.
The student went on to state that she would like to see an improvement of mental health and environmental initiatives alongside “accessibility and making sure everyone has access to everything and making sure that everyone’s okay.”
“I think I might vote once I get to read a little bit more about the candidates’ platforms,” stated Sarah Ballestrin, a first-year environmental management student.
“I definitely want to see some action done around sustainability on campus, as well as the Wi-Fi. We’re very disconnected, a lot of people have trouble with that. Even during class when we actually have to use it for activity,” continued Ballestrin.
Ballestrin also stressed how sustainability efforts on campus is important to consider when going through candidates’ platforms.
“I would like to see the restaurants on campus be more cooperative with zero waste,” said Ballestrin. “Because sometimes they don’t really want to cooperate with you if you ask not to get packaging or to bring your own reusable containers.”
Students, as union members, can cast their votes through a paper balloting voting process after providing legitimate identification. Had the option of online voting not been so opposed by the UTMSU at their 2018 Annual General Meeting, students would have been able to submit their votes through the ACORN student web services.
Voting will take place between March 10 and March 12 at all major academic buildings on campus from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.