Founded in 1901 and incorporated in 1977, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) represents 50,000 students at the University of Toronto. If you’re a full-time undergraduate student at the St. George Campus or the Mississauga Campus, you’re a member of the UTSU and pay a membership fee of just under $20.00 annually. As a student government, the UTSU is independent of the university and strives to be a democratic, member-driven organization. The UTSU is governed on a day-to-day basis by a President and six Vice-Presidents, who report to a sixty-person Board of Directors. The President, the Vice-Presidents, and the members of the Board of Directors are all elected by the members.
The UTSU has two essential functions: advocating on behalf of the members and providing services to the members. Advocacy consists of lobbying the university and the government, organizing campaigns, and supporting student initiatives. The UTSU provides services by running the student health insurance plan, funding campus clubs, and offering grants to students in need. Importantly, the UTSU is committed to the principle of equity, and this principle is present in everything that we do.
Welcome to the UTSU—we’re here to serve you.
Chaired by the President, the Executive Committee manages the day-to-day operations of the UTSU. The executives are elected in the spring and work full-time throughout the year. The members of the Executive Committee are:
- The President is the chief executive, primary spokesperson, and overall leader of the UTSU. They set the tone and direction of the organization as a whole.
- The Vice-President Internal ensures that the UTSU runs smoothly. They manage the finances, co-ordinate the full-time staff, and look after all of the services that the UTSU provides to students.
- The Vice-President University Affairs engages directly with the U of T administration, working on everything from academic advocacy to policy reform. They also represent the UTSU on a number of important university bodies.
- The Vice-President External represents the UTSU outside of the U of T community, collaborating with other student organizations and lobbying all three levels of government.
- The Vice-President Equity advances the interests of marginalized students, organizing campaigns aimed at making U of T a more inclusive, equitable space. They also ensure that the UTSU itself is acting equitably.
- The Vice-President Campus Life works to improve the social lives of all students. They oversee Orientation and Frost Week, and host smaller events throughout the year. They also provide support to student clubs.
- The Vice-President Professional Faculties looks after the needs of professional faculty students, ensuring that they’re represented within the UTSU and working to improve their academic and social lives.
- The President of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) is also a member of the Executive Committee, although the UTMSU is an independent students’ union.
The Board of Directors is the governing body of the UTSU. It’s elected in the spring and meets at least monthly throughout the year. The 57-member board is composed of:
- 16 members elected by the colleges
- 12 members elected by the professional faculties
- 7 members appointed by the UTMSU
- 7 members appointed to represent marginalized communities
- 6 members elected by academic communities
- 1 members elected by the Transitional Year Programme
- The 8 members of the Executive Committee
- Meetings of the board are generally open to the public.
The work of the board is delegated to eight committees, which are elected by the board and meet in between board meetings. Each committee has a specific mandate. The committees are:
- The Bylaws and Policies Committee reviews and recommends changes to the bylaws, policies, and general governance practices of the UTSU.
- The Campaigns Committee works with the commissions to organize campaigns in which all members can participate.
- The Clubs Committee allocates funding to student clubs.
- The Elections and Referenda Committee oversees and administers all elections and referenda held by the UTSU.
- The Executive Review Committee investigates complaints against members of the Executive Committee.
- The Finance Committee oversees the finances of the UTSU, including the budget.
- The Outreach Committee is responsible for direct engagement with the membership.
- The Services Committee reviews and recommends changes to the services provided by the UTSU.
- The Student Accessibility Committee is charged with making the UTSU, and the university as a whole, accessible to students with disabilities.
- The Student Aid Committee provides financial aid to students in need. It also supports a student refugee sponsored annually by the UTSU.
The role of the seven commissions is to make the work of the UTSU accessible to members. If you’re a member of the UTSU, you’re automatically a non-voting member of every commission, and you’ll become a voting member at the second meeting that you attend. In order to ensure that UTSU resources are available to members, part of each commission budget is reserved for member initiatives. The commissions are:
- The Academic and Student Rights Commission works on academic policy and issues of university governance. It’s chaired by the VP University Affairs.
- The Campus Life Commission hosts social events and events for campus clubs. It’s chaired by the VP Campus Life.
- The Community Action Commission works with external organizations to advance the interests of students and of the U of T community generally. It’s chaired by the VP External.
- The International Students’ Commission provides support to and advocates on behalf of international students. It’s chaired by the International Students’ Commissioner.
- The Mental Wellness Commission is active on mental health issues, raising awareness and helping students navigate the resources that are (and often aren’t) available on campus. It’s chaired by the Mental Wellness Commissioner.
- The Social Justice and Equity Commission works with and provides support to marginalized students and the groups that represent them. It’s chaired by the VP Equity.
- The Sustainability Commission engages in environmental advocacy and works to make U of T a greener, more sustainable place. It’s chaired by the Sustainability Commissioner.
The executives are supported by a staff of eight, all of whom work full-time at the UTSU office.
- The Executive Director, or ED, manages the staff and keeps the organization as a whole aligned with priorities of the Executive Committee.
- The Clubs Co-ordinator provides support to student clubs by helping them apply for funding and connecting them to other resources.
- The Events Co-ordinator works with the executives to plan major events, including Orientation.
- The Health and Dental Plan Co-ordinator helps members understand and use the UTSU Health and Dental Plan.
- The Internal Co-ordinator manages the UTSU office and the sale of the merchandise at the front desk.
- The Services Co-ordinator is the day-to-day organizer of the services provided by the UTSU.
- The Graphic Designer is responsible for all graphic design work at the UTSU.
As stated in the Letters Patent the Mission Statement of the Union is:
- To safeguard the individual rights of the student, regardless of race, colour, age, mental or physical ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, religion, personal or political beliefs, nationality, geographic or ethnic orientation, citizenship, class ancestry or status, including but not limited to marital, socio-economic, First Nations, Inuit or Metis;
- To foster the intellectual growth and moral awareness of the student in order to benefit him or her, the University of Toronto Student Community, and society;
- To provide facilities of the services and activities in which the interests of the University of Toronto Student Community are involved;
- To endeavour to bring about a fundamental redistribution of power so as to permit substantially greater participation by students in making those decisions which affect their lives;
- To engage in research and discussion of the broad educational philosophy and principles affecting the University of Toronto Student Community;
- To provide means of communication within the University of Toronto Student Community, among the campuses of the University of Toronto, with other members of the university community, with other universities, and with the general public;
- To engage in discussion with municipal, provincial, and national governments on issues that affect the University of Toronto Student Community;
- To encourage social action programs involving volunteer student resources;
- To press for such action as may be necessary to make higher education accessible to all classes of Canadian society.