By Jake MacAndrew and Racy Rafique
The Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) elected members for its various committees at the January Board of Directors (BoD) meeting on Tuesday.
Current BoD members were either nominated by other Board members or self-nominated to several committees.
There were 12 committees to be elected to overall, including the finance committee, which oversees budgetary decisions and the elections and referenda committee, which handles all election and referendum procedures.
According to section 4.10 of the TMSU bylaws, every BoD member must sit on at least one committee.
Six members—Alisha Kweon, Gus Cousins, Ozioma Molokwu, Olivia Okoro, Zroha Khalid and Ayra Rajpal—were not present at the meeting, rendering them ineligible to self-nominate onto committees.
However, Kweon, Cousins, Molokwu and Okoro were still elected to committees by nomination from other board members.
Nine BoD members, including Khalid and Rajpal, were not officially elected to one of the 12 committees during the meeting.
TMSU president Marina Gerges told The Eyeopener in an email that Board members can also join open committees, or “committees of the whole” as they are called in section 5.2 of the TMSU bylaws.
Open committees include the events committee, social justice committee and student action committee.
These open committees do not require members to be elected, but do require at least three BoD members to hit quorum, said director of programming Corey Scott at the meeting.
Members can join open committees at any time in the year, meaning if one of the eight unappointed BoD members is not already on an open committee, they can join one at a later date.
The student action committee currently only has two BoD members elected, so one BoD position remains vacant before it can hit quorum.
At the meeting, Gerges said, “to be honest, I’m not sure exactly what the student action committee does. I haven’t seen it in action.”
Gerges also said “the finance committee isn’t going to be that much work at all” because the 2023 budget proposal is in its final stages.
She added the audit committee—which is responsible for reviewing the TMSU’s operations and expenditures—was not elected and will be appointed near the end of the semester.
Gerges told The Eye in an email that the audit committee needs to be chaired by an external director—someone who is not a BoD member—with a Chartered Professional Accountant credential. Because of this, the committee will be formed after the external director is hired.
Here is the full list of committee elections:
Social Justice (Chair: Areesha Qureshi)
Student Action (Chair: Nathan Sugunalan)
Events (Chair: Ozioma Molokwu)
Bylaw and Policy (Chair: Marina Gerges)
Board Conduct (needs to select Chair)
Course Unions (Chair: Ozioma Molokwu)
Election & Referenda (needs to select Chair, needs Executive Appointment)
Finance (Chair: Spyros Zarros)
Management Priorities (Chair: Marina Gerges)
Nominating (Chair: Marina Gerges)
Student Grants (Chair: Spyros Zarros)
Student Groups (Chair: Ozioma Molokwu)
Here’s what else you missed at the January BoD meeting:
TMSU Election timeline finalized
The TMSU announced the dates for its annual general election, which will take place in March.
The Board moved to finalize the election timeline as the following:
Nomination Period: February 21 – March 3, 2023
Validation Period: March 4 – 12, 2023
Campaign Period: March 13 – 24, 2023
Election Dates: March 21 – 24, 2023
This year’s election dates will differ from the 2022 election, which took place from Jan. 24 to Feb. 4.
Section 8.2 of TMSU’s bylaws states that its general elections must be held between Feb. 1 and March 31 of each year.
This rule is a new addition, and was introduced in the Dec. 1, 2022 update to TMSU bylaws—the first update to the document since November 2016.
TMU students are eligible to run for all positions on the union’s board, including president and various vice-presidential roles.
Gerges told Board members that honorariums—bonus money that each board member receives—for the 2022 fall semester will be delivered to them by February.
“We are giving a price tag for everything,” she said. Directors will be compensated for attending board meetings, events or other tasks around the TMSU office.
The maximum amount a Board member can receive for the fall 2022 term is $2000 and the maximum honoraria for the winter 2023 semester is $1000.
Possible additional reading week
The idea to create an additional reading week, which was presented by TMSU’s social justice committee, is in its early stages, but Board members say they are keen to host a student town hall meeting to gauge interest in the idea.
Faculty of Arts Director Aya Bakir told Board members that some students she spoke to on behalf of the social justice committee had expressed a desire for a break between the last day of classes and the first day of exams.
The week-long break will likely not come without cost, said TMSU president Marina Gerges.
“Do you want to start a week earlier? Do you want to get rid of reading week?” said Gerges. “Something will have to give in order to make this happen.”
The social justice committee—which oversees the union’s advocacy and programs relating to social justice issues—said it has been in communication with some student societies to ask for their support on the matter but have received reluctant and mixed responses.
“[We need to] mobilize the students rather than the societies because each of these societies have their own agendas,” said Bakir.
Vice-president education Nathan Sugunalan also discussed hosting a separate town hall meeting this semester to consider a reading week for engineering students in the fall term.
Engineering students at TMU currently do not have a break in the fall semester, according to TMU’s course calendar. However, those students do have a reading week in the winter.
The discussion was tabled for a later date.
Vice-president operations Spyros Zarros gave a budget update, stating that the TMSU’s 2023 operating budget is awaiting final Board approvals before it will be publicly presented.
Grammarly discount is coming
At the January BoD meeting, Zarros announced that the TMSU’s Grammarly discount website is in its final testing phases.
The TMSU initially said that it was going to bring back its partnership with Grammarly at the Semi-Annual General Meeting (SAGM) in December.
Zarros also announced the price tag for the student subscription at the January meeting. It will cost students $9.31 per year—a price higher than the $7.55 to $8.89 the vice-president operations originally announced at the SAGM.
Grammarly is an AI-powered editing tool that can be used to edit any body of writing, such as essays or emails. The TMSU previously introduced a Grammarly premium discount in the 2021-2022 year under president Siddanth Satish’s leadership.
Zarros previously said the partnership was originally offered due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting students’ access to such tools, as reported by The Eye.
Student pub name change to be announced
Corey Scott, director of programming, said the Ram in the Rye‘s new name should be revealed next Thursday.
The voting process for the pub’s new name was announced on its Instagram page on Sept. 12, 2022.