By Racy Rafique
The Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union’s (TMSU) ‘No Cops on Campus’ campaign was not discussed by board members before it was announced, revealed TMSU president Marina Gerges at the February Board of Directors (BoD) meeting on Friday.
The campaign was published on the TMSU website and emailed to students in a newsletter on Jan. 23, following Toronto Metropolitan University’s (TMU) announcement of a partnership with Toronto Police Services (TPS), as previously reported by The Eyeopener.
Since the story’s publication, TMU has maintained that they do not have a formal partnership with TPS, but instead a “working relationship.”
The university increased security on campus following a sexual assault at Kerr Hall East, as previously reported by The Eyeopener.
“The university has gone against its own promises and has increased security and started a new partnership with the Toronto Police, despite their own acknowledgement that this makes many students less safe,” read the TMSU’s campaign.
The email featured a campus safety survey which asked students to share their opinions on how to create a safer school environment.
“The questions were extremely biased and misleading for students, trying to mislead students’ opinions,” said Faculty of Science director Sherry Pourghaz* at the meeting. “I want to make it clear [that] I cannot stand these kinds of statements.”
Following Pourghaz’s address to the Board, several other TMSU members voiced their concerns about the “one-sided” statement. Gerges said no BoD member had seen the statement prior to its release.
Faculty of Arts director Aya Bakir, who is a member of the equity committee—the committee tied to the ‘No Cops on Campus’ statement—said she was shocked to see the email.
“We agreed in our committee that there are many needs students have that we need to attend to and as a result, we will not be openly giving out an opinion or a statement regarding this but rather we’re going to be providing students with the platform to raise their concerns,” said Bakir.
However, Bakir did not expand on plans to provide said platform. She said the equity committee takes no responsibility for the statement and that its release without notification to board members was “unprofessional.”
“I saw it for the first time in the newsletter,” said Gerges. “That statement should not have gone out.”
According to Gerges, the statement was sent out by “a couple of staff members,” and executives weren’t involved.
Gerges told The Eyeopener in an email that she could not name the staff members “due to confidential HR reasons.”
The Board said it wouldn’t be removing or retracting the statement but rather building on and learning from its mistake.
“When it comes down to it, we have to somehow let students know that we can see both sides,” said Gerges. “Now that we acknowledge that minorities are at risk with police on campus, they know that we are supporting them.”
“It’s time to also support the students that don’t feel safe on campus and are scared to go to the washroom in Kerr Hall.”
Pourghaz urged the Board not to continue with the campaign to maintain neutrality on the issue.
“We cannot provide such a campaign and disregard all of the sexual assaults,” she added. “It’s very important to acknowledge everyone’s problem and it will be so selfish if we think that we can provide a solution [on our own].”
Gerges reassured the Board that the ‘No Cops on Campus’ campaign would not be moving forward.
Here’s what else you missed at the February BoD meeting:
Meeting moved ahead without notification
The BoD meeting was moved up one hour from 1 p.m. on Friday to 12 p.m. The Eye, as well as the general public, was not made aware of this change and missed the beginning of the meeting in which the chair and recording secretary were appointed and a motion to go into an in-camera session—a session that is not open to the public—was approved.
According to Section 4.18 of the TMSU bylaws, “Notice of meetings of the Board of Directors shall be provided to campus media” and “the agenda for a meeting of the Board of Directors must be sent out no less than seventy-two (72) hours in advance of the date of the meeting.”
When The Eye inquired about why the time change was not broadcasted to the public or media, Gerges said in an email that “the change was done very last minute to account for changes in the schedules of those presenting to the board.”
She said she will ensure that it does not happen again under her term.
Annual General Meeting date set
The TMSU voted to host its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, Apr. 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Per Section 3 of the TMSU bylaws, this means the deadline for members to submit any bylaw amendments is one month prior on March 12.
For the bylaw and policy committee, the deadline for amendments is March 22.
Election Procedures Code amendment
The TMSU announced that its election procedures committee voted to change Section 9 of its bylaws on Feb. 23.
Section 9 of the TMSU Elections Procedures Code currently states that “Ballots shall indicate the name of the Candidate and an affiliated slate or independent status.”
The committee proposed to change the word “independent” to “non-slate” on the election ballots.
Previously, candidates that were running as part of a slate—or campaign group—would have their slate name next to their name on the ballot, and independent candidates would have “Independent” written next to their name.
Gerges said that the word “independent” has been used as part of a slate name previously, so the committee decided to change the word to avoid confusion.
TMSU to spend $50K on Creative Cloud
The Board approved a motion by finance chair Spyros Zarros to spend $50,000 USD toward a partnership with Adobe to “provide [students] with a very, very heavy discount that is unheard of for Creative Cloud and all the benefits that it has to offer.”
TMU currently provides Creative Cloud licenses—which include editing software such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro and Illustrator—for specific programs, such as those within The Creative School.
Zarros said the TMSU’s goal is to purchase 1,000 accounts at a discounted rate and sell them to students from all programs in the hopes of breaking even.
The license would cost students $66 CAD per year plus any transaction or bank fees which would bring the total price closer to $78 to $100 CAD, said Zarros.
To compare, a yearly Creative Cloud subscription for students ranges from about $300 to $460 CAD before additional fees and taxes, according to the Adobe website.
Gerges told The Eye in an email that the licenses will be made available to students in the coming month.
*A previous version of this article listed this source under a different name but has since been updated to reflect the source’s preferred identification.