Victoria College reiterates support for holding referendum on defederation
MAR 08, 2013 | BY KEVIN HEMPSTEAD
VUSAC President Shoaib Alli and Chair Rajesh Sankat hear from Vic students about the costs and benefits of defederation. LOU DOYON
Less than 50 Victoria College students attended a special Annual General Meeting Wednesday, March 6, to discuss the upcoming referendum to divert fees from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) to the Victoria College Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC).
The question of diverting fees away from UTSU created a debate over the college’s ability to handle such a shift in authority. Victoria College would be distancing its connection from the student union that represents all full-time students, and would have to find a way to organize the spending of an additional $99,000.
VUSAC decided March 1 to hold a referendum, but that discussion focused mostly on the extent to which UTSU represents the college’s interests, rather than how VUSAC could replace the services provided by the union. VUSAC president Shoaib Alli presented the 14-page VUSAC Investigative Report of Potential UTSU Referendum, discussing the alternatives for services like health and dental, the structure of VUSAC, and the role of the St. George Round Table, a collaborative body comprised of college and faculty student council leaders. The document stated, “VUSAC feels confident that many of these services can be provided at little cost.” VUSAC voted unanimously in favour of the referendum.
Wednesday night, VUSAC faced scrutiny over its ability to uphold advocacy and to manage finances. “I’ve tabulated a number of things considered to be additional funds as a result of any referendum,” said Victoria College student Katie Vogan. “Where is the financial accountability in this?”
Representatives from UTSU had similar concerns. “It’s surprising that Vic is moving to do this,” UTSU Vice President Internal Corey Scott commented. “We have two finance chairs, and all these funds are a lot to handle.”
Nevertheless, VUSAC promised these concerns would be addressed. “I can say with 110% certainty we can provide these services cheaper and [have] money left over,” explained Finance Chair Jelena Savic. “I have the money breakdowns right here. They will be up tonight [Wednesday] at the latest.” The financial report was not online by the time the newspaper went to press.
The VUSAC Investigative Report and Shoaib Alli also addressed the possibility of the SGRT as an advocacy replacement to the UTSU, after a number of reforms.
In the short-term, Alli promised a complete reorganization of VUSAC, including paid positions to cover the extra duties such as health and dental coverage, and the transformation of the Education & Equity Commissioner to cover advocacy and social justice.
In the end, the AGM passed a non-binding vote to continue with the referendum, to be held at the end of March. A campaigning period will precede it to ensure information for both sides will be distributed and discussed. “Vic will become a battleground,” said referendum supporter Zack Medow. “Many people will get involved, and hopefully this can bring new people into the political process.” More reports from VUSAC are also to follow to explain any outstanding claims and concerns students have.
- Subtitle: Debate continues over whether Victoria College is ready to defederate