The University of Toronto Students’ Union has announced a new vice-president campus life following the resignation of Stuart Norton on December 12th. The union has also replaced Carina Zhang, who left her position as vice-president university affairs in early September.
Ammara Wasim replaced Norton as the VP campus life on January 1st and Adrian Huntelar took over Zhang’s role as VP university affairs on November 25th.
In an email to The Medium, UTSU’s president Mathias Memmel explained the replacement process. He stated that under Bylaw X section 5, the UTSU is required to fill vacant positions.
According to Bylaw X, which details the procedure of office vacancies: “Division I or II Director vacancies that occur after the nomination period for the fall by-elections shall be replaced by an interim election at the board. The vacancy shall be open to any member of the Union who is a member of the constituency that the vacancy occurred in.”
Memmel explained that the decision to appoint the VP campus life quickly, compared to the replacement for VP university affairs, was because UTSU needed a new VP campus life in time for UTSU’s Winter Week of Welcome.
Section five part B of Bylaw X also states, “If the vacancy occurs on or after August 1 or once the Fall Session General Elections process has begun, the Executive Committee shall post the vacant position for no less than twenty (20) days, conduct an interview process and select no less than two (2) candidates to send to the board of directors for election.”
Memmel stated that the board suspended this section of the bylaw and shortened the required timeline while the procedure itself remained the same.
The procedure that followed to appoint the VP campus life and VP university affairs began with the board striking a nominating committee.
The members of the committee consisted of current UTSU’s VP external Anne Boucher, the previous VP campus life Stuart Norton, Victoria College’s director Jayde Jones, and Woodsworth College’s director’s Max Xi.
After reviewing the applications and interviewing the applicants, the committee forwards at least two applicants to the board of Directors for the final decision.
“In the past, [the] Executive Committee has just presented two candidates to the board for approval. The process undertaken was an elective one so that Directors, including those from UTM, could participate in the shortlisting process,” Memmel stated in an email to The Medium.
When asked how the new vice-presidents affect the campaign promises made during last year’s election, Memmel responded, “It would be unfair to hold them to commitments made by their predecessors. We also work collaboratively on most projects, so a project doesn’t cease to exist when the executive responsible resigns.”
Both Norton and Zhang had resigned due to personal reasons and released statements through the UTSU’s social media pages with the union declining to comment further.
In an email to The Medium, Adrian Huntelar, the new VP university affairs, discussed his intent to focus on improving food security on campus. “It’s too hard to get healthy, affordable food that is accessible to commuter students and to those with dietary restriction.”
Huntelar also stated his intent to help lower ancillary fees and costs such as exam remark and deferral fees as well as establish a bill that outlines student rights on campus.
He also wants to work towards making the U of T experience more affordable, and to work towards a student bill of rights, which would protect some fundamental considerations that students have the right to expect from the university into a formal document.
During the UTSU Annual General Meeting, Huntelar advocated against the removal of the VP university affairs position, arguing in favour of its importance to the union and to the students. The removal of the position had been proposed as a way to save the union money, which was ultimately rejected.
Ammara Wasim did not respond to The Medium’s request for comment, as of press of time.