The UTGSU is a democratically-run non-profit organization, formed in 1964 and incorporated in 1999. All graduate students are UTGSU Members and automatically pay a membership fee, which is part of the incidental fee, upon registration every year. As a Member, you have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process of the corporation at the Annual Meeting and at the General Council through Course Union Representation or UTGSU Committee participation. The UTGSU is also a founding member of the Canadian Federation of Students, which lobbies on behalf of students provincially and nationally.
See also: UTGSU Bylaw and Policies
Each graduate department has established some sort of political and recreational group referred to as a Course Union. These are student organizations or associations with a democratically-elected executive responsible to the students in the departments. The UTGSU helps each Course Union create a constitution and provides funding based on the number of members, as well as conference and special funds. In turn, the Course Unions elect one to four Council Representatives, depending on their size. These Representatives make up the General Council / Board of Directors and help to govern the Graduate Students’ Union on behalf of their Course Union.
See also: Course Unions
General Council / Board of Directors
The UTGSU’s main governing body is General Council. General Council acts as the Board of Directors and is composed of Representatives elected by students in each of the 83 Course Unions. Council meets once a month from September to April. Its responsibilities include guiding the goals and priorities of the Union, formulating UTGSU policy, approving the UTGSU Budget, electing the Executive Members-at-Large, and receiving reports and information from other campus groups.
UTGSU Council is the body which connects graduate students from departments across the university. Representatives discuss funding, academic life, financial and physical accessibility, graduate student representation, employment, equity, and housing and other issues, and from those discussions fashion and determine priorities and policies.
UTGSU Standing Committees are created by General Council but headed up by the Executive Committee. Each Standing Committee works on issues that have been identified as needing particular emphasis, such as Policy and Operations or the Environmental Justice. Each Standing Committee is composed of at least one Executive Officer, and interested Council Representatives and graduate students – we invite all graduate students to sit on these committees. Standing Committees report to the Executive, who then report to the UTGSU General Council.
If you have questions about the Standing Committees or anything else related to the UTGSU governance structure, please contact your course union reps or the UTGSU Exec or staff. We would love to hear from you.
There are six Executive Officers: Academics & Funding Commissioner Divisions 1 and 2, Academics & Funding Commissioner Divisions 3 and 4, Civics & Environment Commissioner, External Commissioner, Finance & University Governance Commissioner, and Internal Commissioner. The Executive Officers are elected each February by the graduate student population in a campus-wide election. Two Executive Members-at-Large are elected by UTGSU Council, one in April and one in October.
The Executive Committee oversees all day-to-day management of UTGSU finances; health and dental insurance; UTGSU group and Member services; and the GSU building, which houses the GSU Pub, Gym, and Harvest Noon Café. The Executive Committee is also responsible for ensuring that the policy changes and current priorities are implemented.
Specific Executive responsibilities include: spearheading action on various issues relevant to graduate students; cooperatively working with student, faculty and other groups on campus; collaborating and lobbying for graduate student interests across Canada through the Canadian Federation of Students and the National and Ontario Graduate Caucuses; and maintaining contact with student reps on governing bodies.