Campaigns are a crucial of what UTMSU does. A campaign addresses an issue that concerns our students. Yes, we provide services to students, but we also tackle issues that range from the environment and sustainability to tuition fees and poverty. The campaigns cover issues that affect specifically UTM students, students across Canada, and sometimes even humanity in general.
Running a campaign means that as the student body of UTM, you have addressed a concern that majorty students share and we have decided to stand up that issue.
An example of what a campaign at the local level did is parking fees. In previous years, UTMSU ran a campaign to reduce parking fees, and at the end of the year, for the first time in the history of UTM, parking fees were reduced by 5%. And campaigns can be as large or small as the person likes.
The parking fees campaign was one that was focused at UTM specifically, but there are provincial-wide campaigns, such as the campaign to get international students back under OHIP, national campaigns, such as the campaign to reduce tuition fees (watch out for 5th of November), and international campaigns, such as the campaign for boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel.
If there is anything that bothers you, be it about our campus, or even worldwide, we strongly encourage you to come into the UTMSU office and share your thoughts.
Here is a list of the campaigns that will be taking place this year:
Tuition fees campaign raises awareness about the impacts of tuition and how we can continue to fight the ever-rising tuition fees. We have been running this campaign for a number of years now. The goal is to continue to raise awareness about these issues while stating what we can do to make this campaign better.
The U-pass is one of our marquee services that we offer to students. This universal pass saves students a very high amount of money every single day. We want to merge our u-pass with the ISIC card to add more discounts and save students money. We need to also ensure that there are better transit access to campus to improve student life and lessen the time students have to spend travelling.
The Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Toronto accommodates a variety of spiritual and faith-based practices, and encourages interfaith dialogue and spiritual development as part of the learning experience for all students. This space is very limited on campus with the annual increasing student population. The need for a greater pace is required to accommodate students and therefore a campaign is necessary to raise awareness to gain the space required.
For this campaign many mediums will be used to raise awareness about what academic dishonesty is and looks like. The transition from high school to university is a big one for many individuals and students are shocked by how seriously the administration takes academic dishonesty. The consequences for committing an academic offence are drastic and though they may appear uncalled for it is assumed that all students have read the policies pertaining to these issues. Unlike Abdualla, most students don’t like reading policies, so students don’t actually know the sanctions, let alone what actions are considered as academic offences. For that reason we will be dissecting the policies and informing students of their responsibilities as students at the University of Toronto through our vlogs, during Academic Integrity Awareness Week and more! In addition, UTMSU, the Academic Societies, and the Dean Undergraduate will be filming a short video to air during the first week of classes to ensure that students understand exactly what academic integrity is and where they find additional help.
In my opinion Fossil Fuel Divestment is a long-term goal and would be the beginning of the end to a systematic problem. However, we can start tackling some of the environmentally distresses situations on our very own campus. UTMSU is going to revisit the Water Bottle Free campaign, using the buttons, stickers, posters and factual pamphlets to raise awareness about the privatization of water and the increasing issue of waste and overflowing landfills. In addition we may start a new anti-littering campaign revolving around our deer and other wildlife found on campus (because who doesn’t love the UTM deer!?).
This campaign will focus on pressuring our university to divest from fossil fuel companies and any other organizations that directly impact our environment, locally, nationally and worldwide. Climate change is becoming an increasing problem for our wildlife, First Nations People and societies around the globe. By condemning the use of fossil fuels and switching to alternative resources UofT will set precedence and kick start the generation of green living. This will be achieved by raising awareness on campus amongst students, collaborating with passionate professors, academic societies, departments and off-campus organization lead by Toronto350 and Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. The Canadian Federation of Students will provide us with the materials necessary to raise awareness like buttons, flyers, stickers, posters and petitions. If you are really interested in this initiative, UTMSU will be putting together a statement on their stance on Fossil Fuel Divestment as well as sending divestment and reinvestment strategies to the standing committee and President of UofT before September 30th, 2015.
Student representation on these bodies has been steadily reducing and we want to push for reform to the governing bodies to increase student representation.
The student centre space is our space and we want to make sure its accessible to students and it’s a space where people feel like they can come, be with their friends and spend some time. the student centre is ours and we want students to own the space so we can start making our case for an expansion.
Students on campus have identified food as a major issue for a long period of time. The past year we spent time reaching out to students, finding out what they want and making sure members of administration knew exactly what these wants were. This coming year we shall be focusing our efforts on ensuring that whoever the new food service provider is has taken into account these recommendations and we shall push forward with what students want.
Mental health just as important as physical health, so this year I would like to dedicate an entire week to mental health. During this week, there will be work shops and events held to distress students and it will give them the opportunity to talk about mental health cooping strategies amongst their peers.
The campaign is an umbrella campaign for actions/ protests geared towards challenging the systems of oppression that exist within our society. When we say fuck the system we mean fuck the systems that work to keep marginalized folks at the bottom and keep those in power where they are. It is important that we understand that the system that currently exists in society is not sustainable and will eventually lead to the collapse of our planet as a whole. We cannot continue to live like this. This campaign is education based and the end goal is to work with students and the broader society to figure out a system of society where we can all exist without the power structures that currently exist.
One initiative the UTMSU will be taking on this year is increasing job awareness on campus as well as pushing for more employment opportunities for the students of UTM. The university has cut work-study program funding, thus further limiting the amount of job opportunities on campus. We intend to not only create more job opportunities at UTMSU but work with the administration in bringing more jobs on campus.