The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) held its Annual General Meeting last Wednesday where they discussed financial audit statements and entertained motions put forth by students.
The meeting began with a speech from the UTMSU president Atif Abdullah, in which he addressed mental health issues, UTMSU’s past victories, and on-going initiatives.
“The UTMSU lobbied and successfully implemented the course refund policy, giving first-year students a chance to repeat a past course they failed, [and] to meet program requirements,” said Abdullah. “We also piloted self-assigned sick notes in the summer, and that allows students to declare their sickness without having the burden of adding proof.”
Abdullah also discussed the Student Choice Initiative and the recent ruling by the Divisional Court of Ontario, which asserted that fees pertaining to student unions were outside of the Ontario government’s legal jurisdiction.
“When we actually thought all was lost because of the so-called Student Choice Initiative, students who knew this was a bad policy actually fought back against our government. And luckily, it wasn’t just our members who thought this was a bad policy. The courts thought that too,” said Abdullah.
“The government never actually cared about saving students money, because otherwise they would not have gone and cut OSAP,” continued Abdullah.
Vice-President Internal of the UTMSU Sara Malhotra went over the financial statements of the Blind Duck Pub and non-consolidated financial statements of the UTMSU.
Even though the Blind Duck had to renew its sound and lighting systems this past year, the pub was able to pay off all of its loans in time and made a $22,000 profit in net assets.
“We can see that the wages and benefits increased,” said Malhotra regarding the $12,716 difference in the Blind Duck’s statement. “This is because more events require more labour and often these labourers also have to work longer hours.”
When looking through the non-consolidated financial statements of the UTMSU, Malhotra discussed the $1,709,159 increase in assets. “This is due to the separation of the UTMSU from the UTSU and we do collect the funds now from UTSU,” said Malhotra.
“These are funds that the UTSU used to collect on our behalf before, but due to the separation, we are collecting the funds for health and dental and wheelchair accessibility. These funds are restricted because they’re supposed to go to those specific reasons.”
The UTMSU saw an overall operation surplus of $384,544 and the excess of revenue over expenditure for the year was $1,590,736, which does include the additional funds from the UTSU.
The Student Action Motion put forth by Abdullah called for an increase in student action in the upcoming semester and a collaboration between the UTMSU and the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA). This motion passed unanimously after five speeches in favour, including one from Felipe Nagata, the previous UTMSU President who is also the current Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario.
“I just wanted to note for all the international students out there, it’s not fair that they’re paying a lot more for the same education,” said Nagata.
Two motions were put forth by members of the student body. The first motion, moved by L. Scheffer, called for the billiard tables in the Blind Duck Pub to be free of charge with the deposit of a TCard.
Although the billiard tables are owned by a third party, this motion was able to pass following an amendment from Abdullah, which dictated that the Blind Duck absorb the costs of the billiard tables, thus enabling the students to access them free of charge.
The second motion by a member was moved by Y. Wang, who was not present at the meeting, calling for the Blind Duck Pub to remain open during weekends.
However, this motion was amended by Vice-President University Affairs Miguel Cabral, dictating that “the UTMSU explore the possibility of keeping the Pub open on weekends.” Both the amendment and the motion were approved.
Before adjournment, Abdullah went over upcoming events and initiatives by the UTMSU, including Exam Destressors and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.