By: Eilia Yazdanian, Editor-in-Chief
Letter from the Editor.
Make love, not war.
When I first set out to write this letter, my points were about how the SCSU Executives should work together, with the President. At the time, there were several rumours of how the Executives were taking a stand against the President and planned on impeachment. I had hoped that somehow my letter could stop those rumours.
Then the letter snowballed into an article that was about the September board of director’s meeting, and finally into a prosecution and call for impeachment of the President.
I’m ashamed to have ever written those words. The seeds of dissent about our political system and union have been planted, and rather approach those issues logically, I drowned myself in sensationalism.
I want to make it clear, The Underground has no official position against the Scarborough Campus Student’s Union – neither do I personally. While it is true that my time at the SCSU was fraught with discomfort, disgust, and pain, those feelings were mainly for myself.
Back then, I let myself be swept into a political-game, rather than focusing on my first, and only true, intention – which was the betterment of students. To this day, I consider it my greatest achievement in life, that the SCSU health and dental plan covered 100% of all contraceptives.
I will not allow myself to be swept into that same political game now. I need to rise above that, because just as before, my only goal should be the betterment of this campus, and of UTSC students.
There are problems. I’m not going to tell you there aren’t. I’m not going to pretend that the SCSU is a beacon of virtue, but it’s also not the paragon of corruption that it’s made out to be.
And maybe, I’m wrong. Maybe it’s beyond saving, beyond fixing. But I believe in second chances, I believe in cooperation, and the good nature of people as humans.
The SCSU is a very powerful organization, more powerful than most folks realize. They have the ability to single-handedly shape the experience of students on this campus. It can be through creating study spaces on campus, or through lobbying the administration for student rights - the sky is the limit. That is in part, why I am so drawn to that populist fire, and that aggressive voice, when they do fail us.
The September board of director’s meeting, was an interesting one, that framed a lot of my expressed thoughts. I’m not going to apologize for the fact that I stopped the VP of Academics and University Affairs from chairing the meeting, in the absence of the President. Such is against the SCSU bylaws.
I will apologize for being in opposition that the President cannot assume the duties of the speaker. While such is listed in the SCSU bylaws, it also states that the Speaker must be an ex-officio non-voting member of the Board of Directors. This to me is a clear conflict, and contradiction. An example of change that needs to occur.
The reason the latter clause exists, is to ensure that the Speaker (or more commonly referred to as the Chair) is not rejecting and accepting motions, and speakers, that only favor their voting position.
I was also disappointed, by the lack of transparency displayed by the SCSU during the meeting, specifically in regard to ‘Orientation’ and ‘Week of Welcome’.
On the subject of ‘Orientation’ – the food mishap is not the SCSU’s fault. I want to be frank and direct about this, the Union followed the correct procedures and selected a restaurant on the pre-approved university list. That restaurant passed all standards set by the university.
However, they failed in being transparent about the issues with the food. The issue of the mix-up between vegetarian and meat options is fake news. But, the issue of maggots in the food is real and confirmed. When pressed on this, the VP of Campus Life refused to state what the actual issue was, or provide clarifying details. He simply referred to the issue as “the problem that occurred because of the supplier” and did not answer multiple direct questions.
Why continue to not acknowledge the issue? This harms the integrity of the union. Why not come forward, and admit the issue, and be direct with us, the students? As students, what we can take offence to here, is not that an issue occurred outside of SCSU’s control, but their absolute disregard for the truth – and even when that truth has been vetted and confirmed.
This occurred again when pressed about ‘Week of Welcome’ and the showing of ‘Black Panther’. The VP of Campus Life stated on the record, that the SCSU had worked with an external-firm to display the movie, and that firm had purchased the rights. However, later on in the meeting, a director brought up the notion, that the movie had been played off Netflix.
I’m really hoping that this is not true. I’m really hoping that between five Executives, an Executive Director, and even the Operations Coordinator, that somebody mentioned that playing ‘Blank Panther’ off a personal-Netflix account, would be a very bad idea. If this is true, this action puts the entire SCSU, and ultimately the students, in jeopardy.
On a positive note, I was inspired by the leadership displayed by our VP of Equity, Chemi, and our board of directors. What I saw in Chemi, was the leadership that the SCSU desperately needs. She spoke on multiple issues, raised valid points, even in contention to my own, and commanded the room.
When pressed on the notion of why the SCSU holds a sizeable GIC to sell TTC passes, in light of diminishing profits, Chemi answered swiftly and correctly, that it is not the Union’s mandate to make profit, rather to provide TTC passes as a service.
This year’s board of directors give me a lot of hope. They stood their ground, shut down motions that would have further harmed the integrity of the Union, and introduced a motion to rally behind one of their own. I have full confidence in this group of individuals to be the leaders we need.
I used the word impeachment earlier. Impeachment is a strong, and ugly word. My use of it at the time was misguided and shameful. But I’m also sure that ruling out impeachment would be just as harmful and misguided. To be clear, I’m not calling for the impeachment of any Executive.
Rather, a reminder to myself, that our political system at UTSC has such a clause. A reminder to myself, to not be afraid to wield that banner, if the Union crosses that line – if they put the betterment of students, second.
I am hoping that the use of the word impeachment got your attention.
Nicole, it’s way too early in the year for this. You’re making my job somewhat easy. For the students, and for the respect of the title and office you command, please ensure that transparency and the betterment of students remains at the forefront of the SCSU.
Rather than focusing on our differences and focusing on crazy conspiracy theories (which sometimes can turn out to be true), let’s instead focus on the year ahead. I’m happy to put aside our differences, and to work together, wherever required, in order to benefit the students. I hope you can do the same.
Nicole, I look forward to an email from you to professionally connect. I’ve been trying since the summer. At this point, a meeting with you is rarer than a UofT professor playing porn during a lecture.
A funny quip, but an unfortunate one.
- Eilia Yazdanian