This letter is written is response to last week’s letter to the editor, “Disappointed with the Union”. I would like to begin by apologizing for any misunderstandings that occurred and for upsetting Antara in any way. My intentions were not to neglect her and I hope that after speaking to her personally she has more of an understanding of my position and the events that took place this year.
I would like to suggest to anyone who has an issue with any executive member of the union that they e-mail or call them in order to speak to them personally and create an understanding and avoid issues in the future. Our business cards are on our desks in the UTMSU office (where everyone is welcome to drop by), and our e-mails, work numbers, and cell phone numbers are all on these cards, and we are all happy to discuss any concerns or questions that any students have. I personally like to make sure that I answer e-mails directed to me as quickly as I can, and my cell phone is almost always with me, so I get back to students quite fast. There are times when I am not in the office, as I might be in a meeting or in classes, but I always work around my schedule to ensure that any students who need to speak to me are able to at a time that is convenient for both of us. Regretfully, Antara neither contacted me through e-mail nor on my cell phone. I wish that she had let me know of her concerns beforehand so that we could have dealt with them proactively.
In the future, I would encourage students to speak to the person that they may have an issue with as soon as possible, because I’m sure that talking things out would be the most effective way of dealing with issues. It is very easy for miscommunications to occur, but it is also very easy to address concerns and work to improve communication when the problem is brought up and discussed in a positive manner.
With regards to events that I was unable to attend, I have explained my situation to Antara and hope that she understood my situation. I would have loved to attend every event that took place at UTM this year, but unfortunately, personal reasons sometimes restrict me from doing so. The Rock for a Breast event was a wonderful one and I wish that I could have been there, and hope to attend future events that the Women’s Centre holds. I hope that the Women’s Center continues its positive relationship with UTMSU and continues to work with us on various events and initiatives.
As my term comes to an end, I am happy to say that I have learned so much from the position that I held as an executive member of UTMSU. I have learned valuable skills and achieved many of my goals for the year. I am happy to say that we are working closely with the University administration and many faith-based clubs on campus to improve multi-faith spaces on-campus. I have tried my very best to collaborate with as many clubs and students as I could in order to host two very successful Expression Against Oppression weeks that addressed many social justice and equity issues such as racism, LGBTQ issues, and gender equity.
For the very first time at UTM, UTMSU held a DisOrientation Week that also gave students the opportunity to learn more about politics, social justice, and equity. We also held a Social Justice and Equity Fair in the Student Center for two days, where we invited various organizations from around the community to offer students resources and volunteer opportunities outside of school.
I am also happy to announce that we will finally be getting an equity office on our campus. I am happy to have worked with the administration in order to ensure that we will have an equity officer at UTM, and hope to continue to work with them in order to ensure that the officer is as experienced and qualified as possible.
We have launched a new campaign through the Accessibility Campaign that works to fight against stereotype and stigma, and have worked to ensure that future renovations on our campus are accessible and meet the standards of UTM students. Our mental health campaigns and work have also been greatly improved through our work with HCC and the Canadian Mental Health Association; various events were held throughout the year to raise awareness about the issue and a very successful event was held in collaboration with MSA during XAO.
Furthermore, we had more bursary submissions than ever before, and more bursaries were given this year than any past years. I would encourage students to continue to apply for bursaries if they need them. We are always working to ensure that education is a right, not a privilege.
These are just a few of our successes, and we couldn’t have achieved them without the help of students on our campus. With hard work, strong work ethics, communication and teamwork, so much can be achieved. I encourage students to continue to get involved with UTMSU and to continue to work together in order to continue to ensure that student life at UTM remains as wonderful as it already is, and gets even better!
Again, my apologies to Antara for upsetting her, that was never my intention, and again, I would encourage her to bring up any concerns that she may with anyone at UTMSU or any of her peers as soon as she can so that any misunderstandings can be cleared up quickly, and so that improvements can be made sooner rather than later. It was upsetting that she did not address her concerns with me, and I called her as soon as I read about them in her letter and hope that she has accepted my apology to her and I hope that misunderstandings such as these ones do not happen in the future.
I hope to continue to work with students and clubs and societies on our campus even after my term as VP Equity ends! I truly loved the experience and loved meeting so many new people and making new friends. Good luck to everyone on exams, I hope that they go well for all of you!
All the best,