Students will elect the representatives this week for Division I, first-year representatives, and Division III, the central directors, of UTMSU’s Board of Directors.
This year, UTMSU will be including a plebiscite question on the referendum, aiming to encourage voter turnout, according to UTMSU’s president, Nour Alideeb, in an email to The Medium.
The question will ask students if they feel that the UTM’s Governing Council and Campus Council consider student opinions before making decisions.
“The UTMSU felt the need to include this plebiscite question because a number of members felt that the costs that they pay for, being a student at U of T, are often done so without student input,” said Alideeb.
“Governance bodies at the university seek to drown out students from making changes to financial priorities and see the university empower external representatives over those who spend everyday at the institution.”
Alideeb explained that these questions are often proposed during election periods. Being a plebiscite question, however, means that students are not required to provide an answer when voting.
The Medium had the opportunity to interview four of the candidates who are running in this year’s board elections.
Jason Francone, running for Division I, stated to The Medium that he strives to expand UTM’s social scene.
“I like the idea of local talent; we can have the next big thing on our campus. As a first-year, your mindset is on having fun,” said Francone.
“I want to lower the cost of parking passes,” he continued. “Every student that owns a car has to face insurance, gas, and maintenance payments—why should they still have to pay a huge load of money for parking after spending thousands on tuition? It’s really not fair, especially for students that are already struggling financially.”
Another Division I candidate, Dashvin Singh, explained how his focus would be to create a closer sense of community.
“One of the main goals is to unite,” Singh said. “Giving first-year students the information, the resources, whatever it is so that they can be involved, so that they know they have rights as a member [of the school].”
Singh also commented on the large amount of fees students pay, both domestically and internationally, adding how those fees should be lowered.
He cited the Fight the Fees campaign held by UTMSU as one of the ways students can come together and lower the price of tuition.
Singh also stressed the importance of raising student awareness of events and issues so that change on campus could be achieved. “My voice alone does nothing, it is the voice of the whole,” he said. “It’s my encouragement to be a role model in the sense that we actively be involved in school events, so that students in their first year know that they have the right. They are members of the UTMSU.”
Other Division I candidates include: Ali Taha, Mohammed Moiz, Gursimran Rawal, and Shveta Bhasker.
Aseel Anoun, a second-year student, is one of three candidates running for the Division III position.
Anoun wants to focus on changing the image of the student union to be more available to students.
“I want to change UTMSU,” Aoun said, “I want people to know what [UTMSU’s] doing for them. I don’t think students know that half of the things that are changing, like the credit/no credit; this is because of UTMSU.”
More of Aoun’s platform points include increasing the food options at UTM. When asked how she would work around the renewed Chartwells contract, Aoun stated the possibility of working with Chartwells to present additional options, such as the new sushi bar in the Instructional Building that was added in this year.
“We can always aim for better. We can always tell them to add more choices,” she stated.
The second Division III Candidate, Felipe Nagata, voiced his goal to help international students become eligible for OHIP.
“I’ll be partnering up with unions or associations that will help me,” Nagata said. “I want to work with the international student body, just because I feel like there’s a lot of stress when you come here, and you want to get the best from being here.”
Another one of Nagata’s goals is to provide more inclusive events for students on campus.
“I also want to work with more LGBTQ events on campus,” he stated. “I feel that a lot of the events are very straight-orientated.”
Nagata also wants to strive to create more welcoming pub-like spaces for students that will stay later, within a future student center expansion.
Students will vote for two seats for Division I and one seat for Division III as elections resume from Tuesday to Thursday this week.
Two seats are supposed to fill Division IV, the part-time directors, but no candidates are running for it, according to UTMSU’s website.
Election results are expected to be released early next week.