The motion to introduce vice president advocacy and remove the positions vice president external and university affairs from the University of Toronto Students’ Union failed, after receiving 196 votes against it at the annual general meeting today.
The role of the VP advocacy would have been to merge between the other two positions that UTSU wanted removed.
UTSU’s president Mathias Memmel’s argument was that the union will be running into a deficit. He stated that if they run a deficit for seven consecutive years, the university will take student commons building back, a project that was just recently completed.
The union’s current VP external Anne Boucher took to the floor saying she works an average 47 hours a week, which would amount to half of the workhours projected for the VP advocacy.
“If the UTSU adopts the VP advocacy merger, […] you’re going to have someone who’s either working 70 hours a week or someone doing 40 and barely scraping the surface of what we should be working on,” said Boucher, “You can’t slash advocacy as a service cut.”
Daman Singh, UTSU’s VP internal, siding with the merger, explained that removing the positions would act as a downsize to the costs UTSU spends paying its executives. “We already lowered our own salaries this year […]. We are already lowest [paid] in the country and we went even lower, but we are currently the largest in terms of number of executives in the country,” he said.
Both UTMSU’s president Salma Fakhry and the VP campus life Jose Wilson, spoke against this bylaw amendment. Fakhry stated how she feels that all UTSU’s actions over the past year included cutting members. She posed a question to both Memmel and Singh saying: “But are you really growing as a union? Are you including these students in your decisions?”
Wilson furthered the argument later by adding that through cutting staff out, he doesn’t see how the executives can advocate for students’ needs.
Another student, Michelle, addressed the UTSU saying they need to instead “put effort” into the positions and make sure “these positons are able to function 100%” prior to making the decision.
When asked if there’s a plan B in case the motion does fail passing, Memmel responded saying, “the short answer is deficit”.
Following close to two hours of discussion on the motion, and after counting the votes three times, the majority came against the motion while the ones in favor were a total of 148.
This article will be updated throughout the week.