The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) is holding its annual elections to seat new members onto the union’s executive team and Board of Directors for one-year terms. There are a total of 19 positions available, five executive positions and 14 on the board.
Similar to previous years, the 2021 Spring election features one slate and minimal opposition with two independent candidates running for a Vice-President position, which is one more than last year.
Current UTMSU President Mitra Yakubi announced that she is running for re-election for the 2021-2022 academic year alongside the Build Back Better UTM slate. Yakubi highlighted her campaign platform on Reddit, a community networking website, allowing for interaction with the student body through the comment section.
Yakubi laid out 10 achievements from her 2020-2021 presidential term as part of her campaign, including the Peer Support Program, $95 U-Pass rebate for eligible students, laptop rental service for students requiring one during virtual classes, and the learning and unlearning seminar series hosted by UTMSU throughout the year.
Upon re-election, Yakubi plans to work further with Mississauga’s transit provider MiWay to construct an opt-out feature for students who do not use the U-Pass. This feat will include a comprehensive, comparative cost-analysis of U-Pass programs across Ontario, which can then be taken to MiWay for negotiation.
The comment section of Yakubi’s post on Reddit contained many questions and concerns from the UTM community regarding her re-election campaign. One user brought up the UTMSU’s opposition towards implementing online voting at UTM during their 2018 Annual General Meeting. The commenter emphasized how this year’s elections will be held online due to pandemic regulations and asked Yakubi if she thought the campus should adopt online voting procedures in the following years.
“I think there are pros and cons to online voting, but at the end of the day, it’s up to students and what they prefer,” stated Yakubi. “As a candidate though, I’ve found online campaigning a little dry compared to in-person elections.”
Yakubi stated that she would be interested in getting feedback from UTM students regarding online voting procedures after this year’s election. She also went on to say that students “can always resubmit a motion about online voting at future general meetings.”
Another point highlighted by Yakubi’s campaign is a Covid-19 academic accommodation policy. This initiative is outlined in detail on the “Build Back Better” campaign website, buildbackbetterutm.com.
The initiative includes a call for the reduction of tuition and ancillary fees, expansion of mental health services, removal of subscription-based learning programs, affordable housing programs for students, and more, all in response to the changes brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Build Back Better UTM slate, front lined by final-year Biology specialist Mitra Yakubi, includes third-year Sociology specialist Ryan Tomlinson (VP Equity), fourth-year Commerce-Finance specialist Lai Wei (VP Internal), second-year Astronomical Sciences specialist Maëlis Barre (VP External), and fourth-year Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology major Merica Joy Carlos (VP University Affairs).
The election roster also includes second-year Criminology student Laiba Khan and third-year student Maryam Yousefipournigjeh. Both Khan and Yousefipournigjeh are running for the position of VP Equity as independent candidates, alongside Build Back Better UTM’s Tomlinson.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic regulations and provincial limitations, the Spring 2021 elections will be held virtually. All UTM students are eligible to submit their votes between March 16-18 at the UTMSU Elections website.