Photo | Hana Nikčević
On December 29th 2017, Ammara Wasim was appointed as UTSU’s new VP Campus Life. Her appointment comes after former VP Stuart Norton’s resignation on December 31st due to personal reasons.
Wasim, a fifth-year Visual Studies student, previously served two years as the VP Communications of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). In an email to The Strand, UTSU President Mathias Memmel stated that Wasim “was appointed by the Board of Directors after an open application process. There were three applicants for the position, … [t]he board was especially impressed by Ammara’s experience in the Muslim Students’ Association, which is one of UofT’s best-managed clubs.”
Her appointment highlights a growing trend of elected officials resigning and the unorthodox board designation of UTSU executives. Thus far, VP University Affairs, VP Campus Life, one of the Vic Directors, a UC Director, and a Division II Director have stepped down. On December 18th, 2017, the UTSU Board of Directors suspended Section five, part B of Bylaw X of the UTSU Bylaws to allow the filling of vacant UTSU seats in time for the Winter Week of Welcome.
There is growing student apprehension around this closed-door and opaque hiring policy within the UTSU. Adrian Huntelar, who was recently appointed to replace Carina Zhang as VP University affairs, has reached out to students to ease concerns over his appointment to this executive role. When asked about the resignations, Memmel responded that “[n]o two resignations are alike, and no two executives have the same experience at the UTSU.”
Wasim believes that the appointment of individuals to fill empty spots on the UTSU is needed to see the agenda of the roles carried out. Her plan is to further the groundwork Norton laid and to see his agenda to completion.
There is an ever-present lack of accountability by the UTSU leadership on the whole. Division I and II Directors, which do not include UTSU Executive members, had a meager attendance rate of 55 percent during meetings last semester. UTSU Bylaw X, Section 2 explicitly states that a Division I or II member “shall be deemed to have delivered their resignation” if the member failed to attend three consecutive meetings, any four meetings, or any three committee meetings. By this metric, 29 percent of the UTSU Board of Directors would have resigned de facto.
EDITORS NOTE: This article was updated on February 12th, 2018. The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Norton was the fourth executive to resign, when he was the second. Additionally, the resignations were declared to be for personal rather than political reasons. The emergency Board of Directors meeting on December 18th was the first, not the second, time that Section five, part B of Bylaw X was suspended this year. The article has also been updated to include the resignation of a Division II Director.