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Elections and Referenda Committee vacancy filled at TMSU October BoD meeting

By Dexter LeRuez

The Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) filled its vacancy on the Election and Referenda Committee (ERC) during the Oct. 23 Board of Directors (BoD) meeting.

TMSU interim vice-president equity Ra’eesa Baksh has been appointed to the ERC for the upcoming Fall 2023 by-elections.

According to section 5.11.1 of the TMSU by-laws, the ERC is responsible for overseeing TMSU by-elections, general elections and referenda, reviewing rules for elections, recommending changes and election dates and hiring election officials. 

According to TMSU interim president Marina Gerges, the vacancy was nearly filled prior to the meeting, however the individual who was planning to join the committee backed out due to scheduling conflicts. 

Section 5.11.2 of the TMSU by-laws state that the ERC shall be composed of a member of the executive committee, two BoD members, an external officer, the chief returning officer (CRO) and the executive director in a non-voting role.

As vice-president equity, Baksh is a member of both the executive committee and the BoD, allowing her to fill the vacancy as a BoD member.

As of the meeting, the TMSU has not hired a CRO but is conducting interviews with candidates. The student union plans on finalizing the process in the coming weeks, per Gerges. 

According to section 9.4 of the TMSU by-laws, the CRO is responsible for ensuring impartiality in the conduct of the elections, ensuring the Elections Procedures Code is followed, authorizing all election notices, publicity and campaign materials, organizing and conducting the Elections Information Session, all-candidates meetings and board training, alongside other responsibilities. 

The nomination period for candidates in the upcoming TMSU by-elections begins on Oct. 30 with voting occurring from Nov. 20 to 22. 

Semi-Annual General Meeting dates 

The BoD finalized the meeting date and location for the semi-annual general meeting (SAGM) for the Fall 2023 semester. 

The meeting will occur on Dec. 5 at the Tecumseh Auditorium in the Student Campus Centre. 

General motions and by-law motions for the SAGM must be submitted by Nov. 5, as announced in the meeting.

According to the TMSU’s website, all members can submit motions and by-law amendments for the SAGM. 

Gerges highlighted the close proximity between the conclusion of the interim executives and BoD’s term at the end of November and the SAGM, explaining that the interim team will likely stay on until after the SAGM to help organize the meeting.

“It’s too new for a new team coming in to plan an SAGM,” said Gerges at the meeting. “It’s our term and we have to conduct it.”

Additionally, the interim president said the current executives may stay on for an additional two weeks to train the incoming executives. 

CopyRITE operations update

Executive director Reanna Maharaj didn’t implement a new point of sale (POS) system in the CopyRITE print shop. 

According to the executive director, she came to the BoD previously for approval on implementing a new POS system, however, following an evaluation of the CopyRITE service, decided against investing in said system. 

According to Investopedia, a POS or point of sale is a device in a retail store that facilitates payments by customers.

As a result, a sign has been placed on the storefront stating that only cash is accepted.

Maharaj revealed that the print shop has been operating at “a huge loss” with the lowest sales in the shops’ history since reopening in November 2022. 

“CopyRITE used to be used a lot before [the pandemic],” said Maharaj. “For architectural printing, the school of interior design used to do all of their renderings and mock ups [at CopyRITE], engineers used to print their capstone projects there. But we are seeing less and less of that…when the pandemic hit, professors accepted a lot of stuff online.”

The TMSU owns one of the printers in the CopyRITE store while all other printers are leased out to the TMSU, according to Maharaj. 

The leases on said printers are set to expire around this time next year according to Maharaj. 

One idea that was mentioned by Gerges during the meeting was to downsize the service from its current production capacity to lower operating costs. 

Gerges recognized that student groups use the CopyRITE service for promotion of events and services and would be impacted by its closure.

“We don’t want to erase it for the student groups,” said Gerges. “It can be kind of niche, if you know about CopyRITE, you can come. It doesn’t have the capacity to serve 40,000 students but it has the capacity to serve the amount of students it’s currently serving.”

“I think making sure that there is at least one printer that students can use for the students that are coming back a lot is important,” said Gerges. 

However, Maharaj highlighted that student groups are typically funded by the TMSU.

“When a student group or course union pays for something using their budget funds, that’s actually our funds,” said Maharaj.

Gerges said the TMSU has looked into diversifying the CopyRITE service, highlighting a Toronto Metropolitan University community member who has previously undertaken embroidery projects for students groups as someone the students’ union may contract out to student groups as a part of CopyRITE.

“We can do our due diligence to see if [business can] pick up…there is only so much that it can pick up,” said Gerges. “I have nothing against CopyRITE, but I just want to get a bang for our students’ money.”

During the meeting, alternative services that could be placed within the CopyRITE space if the service were to shut down or downsize were discussed, including a convenience store and an arcade. 

“Because of the location and the amount of space that we have, we can do something great,” said Maharaj.

Maharaj suggested BoD members brainstorm ideas for services to put into the current CopyRITE space that can be discussed at the SAGM in December. 

In-camera session

During a closed doors “in-camera” session, a Latin term meaning in-chambers or in-private, the TMSU BoD discussed the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. 

Through an emailed response to The Eyeopener, the TMSU provided a draft of the minutes of the in-camera conversation, which will be ratified at the next BoD meeting. 

According to the minutes, members of the Board indicated that they’ve been undergoing significant research to ensure the union members are aware of the issues and to prepare an appropriate response to the conflict. 

The same email reads that Board members determined its the role and duty of the students’ union to not be neutral on global matters. Board members expressed that they need to be unified in their response to injustice, according to the email sent to The Eye.

Members identified that there are opportunities to request additional academic accommodations for all students impacted by the violence and that the TMSU should be advocating and providing support where possible, according to the email.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story included an incorrect stylization of CopyRITE—the correct spelling has been changed. The Eye regrets this error.

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