By: Isaac Thornley

Team Renew’s Vice-President External candidate Sana Ali pulled out of the UTSU election Wednesday afternoon, midway through the three day voting period, in the form of an open letter on Facebook. Though the letter was addressed “Dear Team Renew,” both the incumbent UTSU executives and candidate slate Renew have yet to respond publicly.

The letter quickly spread through U of T’s political regions of Facebook, gaining over 1300 likes and 350 shares in a matter of hours.The letter was met with strong support from an overwhelming majority of Facebook commenters. Ali has been called brave and thoughtful by many of the same people who would have spoken out against her as a member of Team Renew only days ago.

Ali’s primary criticisms focused on what she perceived to be reluctance on the part of the union to engage with opposing points of view, as well as a sense of feeling pushed into a set of conforming ideas and roles that were not of her own choosing. “It has become clear to me that my job description is to fade away into a team of absurdly like-minded candidates and apparently work towards some pre-decided goals that have remained unchanging from year to year.”

Though Ali criticizes the UTSU for “[their] vague responses” to questions about the day to day roles and responsibilities of the VP External position, her points of criticism share such ambiguity. Ali acknowledges this ambiguity by saying she “[does] not want to assign blame.” Ali also implicitly accuses the UTSU of racial profiling when recruiting potential executives, “I think what my [candidate] statement really should have said is “I am Sana Ali and my purpose on team RENEW is to bring visual cultural and social diversity, not my actual voice, individuality, or opinions.”

Ali does provide an interesting bit of information when explaining the process of drafting candidate statements. “Isn’t it odd that my candidate statement on the UTSU Elections and Referenda web page was not written by me? In fact if you read all of them, the only ones that look like they were actually written by a real person and not based off a template are those written by the independents- because the same person ‘reviewed’ and submitted the other twenty-three.” This “same person” is never named.

Serious questions remain, however, the most obvious one being: who will be the UTSU VP External for the 2013-14 academic year. The UTSU by-laws state that executive vacancies require a by-election to be called in no later than 30 days. UTSU members were unavailable for comment.

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