This year’s University of Toronto Mississauga Students Union (UTMSU) election is running online and in-person from March 15 to March 17. While there are mixed feelings about the UTMSU and their campaign strategies, it is extremely important to vote in the upcoming election as it greatly impacts student life at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM).
The UTMSU is criticized year after year for failing to deliver on campaign promises. During elections, candidates often promise to lobby for better food options on campus. In May 2021, the UTMSU succeeded in lobbying to replace Chartwells with Aramark as UTM’s food service provider. Despite this victory, there are still many complaints with the food available on campus as it is still often difficult to find healthy food options. Additionally, the UTMSU frequently promises to reduce the astronomical tuition fees for international students, which they have still failed to deliver on.
There have also been many complaints about UTMSU’s handling of student concerns. For example, in January 2022 there were many complaints when MiWay announced the suspension of Route 110 University Express and Route 101/101A Dundas Express—which are two vital bus routes for students attending UTM. With the return to in-person classes on February 7, students voiced their concern regarding the cancellation of these routes and the lack of action taken by the UTMSU. Many of these students felt as though their concerns were not taken seriously and instead looked to Transparent UTMSU, an independent student advocacy group, to address their concerns and reinstate Routes 110 and 101/101A.
During the UTMSU election period, many students are discouraged from voting by the campaigning strategies taken by candidates. Students have complained about voter fatigue from being approached frequently by candidates in person, by email, and through social media.
Despite these complaints with the UTMSU, they have had many successes and victories over the years. The UTMSU recently succeeded in pressuring U of T to divest from fossil fuel investment in October 2021 and to invest in environmental sustainability initiatives. The UTMSU also successfully lobbied for heated bus stop shelters, free menstrual products in women’s bathrooms, Credit/No Credit policies and extensions, and the introduction of the Late Withdrawal Policy from courses after students voiced their concerns about these issues.
The UTMSU also contributes positively by providing important events and services for UTM students. The UTMSU’s events allow for students to interact with one another such as Exam De-stressor events and Culture Fest. The Town Hall events allow students to ask questions and voice their concerns on topics such as mental health, tuition fees, and residence. The UTMSU is also responsible for providing services including UPasses, the UTM Food Bank, student health and dental coverage, and printing services, which are key in helping students to prosper and succeed while studying at UTM.
Despite some of the UTMSU’s past failures, there have also been many successes and victories, and UTM would not be the same without actions taken by the UTMSU. The UTMSU offers many services which contribute positively to student life at UTM. Regardless of who you vote for in the Spring 2022 UTMSU election, it is important to exercise your right to vote to improve life at UTM.