A small crowd attended UTSU’s All-Candidates Executive Debate at the William Doo Auditorium at New College last Wednesday. Candidates for the positions of president, vice-president equity, VP external, VP internal and services, and VP university affairs participated in a question-and-answer session, since the slate is running unopposed.
The five executive candidates on current VP university affairs Munib Sajjad’s Renew slate emphasized the continued investigation of illegal ancillary fees and the need for students to become more involved and “united”.
Team Renew is made up of incumbent UTSU executives Sajjad (candidate for president) and VP external Yolen Bollo-Kamara (candidate for VP Equity), as well as newcomers Cameron Wathey, Sana Ali, and Agnes So (candidates for VP internal, VP external, and VP university affairs, respectively).
There is no opposition slate, so the ballot will have a “yes” or “no” option. According to the electoral code, positions for which the candidate receives a majority of “no” votes will be declared vacant.
The candidates were each given five minutes to make a brief speech outlining their platforms and plans for next year. Each speech was followed by a 10-minute question period and a final four minutes for the candidates to make closing remarks.
Questions from Trinity students concerned defederation and a hypothetical situation in which students voted to leave UTSU. None of the executive candidates answered the questions directly. “I don’t particularly know too much about this sort of situation,” said Wathey.
UTSU said that official questions of UTSU membership can only be initiated by UTSU, as per their bylaws, and that a hypothetical referendum regarding UTSU membership would need to be provided to all 47,000 members of the union.
UTSU has also expressed to multiple college councils that if defederation passes at the college referendum and is honoured by the University Affairs Board of the Governing Council, then the movement could still be stopped by a “clear legal precedent”.
After Sajjad’s opening speech, Trinity co-head Sam Greene asked him whether, if Trinity’s referendum to defederate passed and the University Affairs Board honoured the outcome of that referendum (redirecting fees paid by Trinity students to the Trinity College Meeting), UTSU would then take Trinity to court.
Sajjad did not directly answer the question. “We represent 47,000 students that vote individually into the union,” he said. “We follow our bylaws, and that’s what I want to uphold. […] We advocate for all, not just simply college or faculty councils.”
He did not say whether UTSU would take the Trinity student representation to court over potential defederation, and instead stressed the need for more dialogue between student groups.
Noor Baig, the current VP equity, is running for a position on the Board of Directors on the Renew slate as an arts and science director-at-large. Meanwhile, running for her current position is Bollo-Kamara, appointed this year as VP campus life.