Anti-Racism Commissioner Annual Report
This report was submitted to us by an anonymous director. We decided to publish it in light of multiple inquiries we have received into the actions of this year’s TCSA executive, and in light of the forthcoming election.
I am writing this report to give an overview of the activities during my term in office, and in direct response to President Perry’s last executive report on February 28. Since there seems to be a loss for reasons as to why attendance is so poor that it reflects this organization badly, I hope that my report will shed some light on this issue.
The first action I took within my position as Anti- Racism Commissioner was to broach the subject of Trent’s Strategic Mandate Agreement. I approached the board with a petition of over 80 signatures from concerned students who desired an open discussion with administration to further understand the nature of the document. I felt it important in my position as the document proved problematic for marginalized and international students.
The response from our student union was immensely discouraging, and the executives told me that if I were to hold an open forum, no one would attend. I am not paraphrasing these statements, they are direct quotes, another being: “Trent students are apathetic.” Even after a teacher’s union meeting was attended by executives that showed just how much the document affects international students, and the forums were revisited, the response was- “we don’t want students asking questions we can’t answer.” It was understood that this was a daunting task, but one I insisted, as a student union, was crucial to take on, because that is our purpose. We exist to represent students.
Followed up by promises from Ben Perry to see to it that these open forums would take place, little to no promotion occurred for the open budget consultation on February 5. We were made aware of this open session with administration five days before it occurred (January 31), and when I asked him if there would be promotion on it, Perry assured me that every social media outlet would be used by TCSA to do so. The weekend went by and there was no mention of it. Throughout Monday there was not a single mention of it, but there was no failure to promote other completely unimportant initiatives.
I personally went in on that Monday before the office closed to express my discontent. This had been something students had been waiting for, and would fail to even know about. I was ready to print off posters for it, if this was to continue, because that’s how important I felt it was. I was once again assured that promotion would occur. In the end, one singular tweet was sent out on Tuesday.
I am writing this report because under Section V of the bylaws, “Directiors shall act with diligence, honesty, and good faith in the best interest of the membership of the Corporation.” Upon reading Perry’s latest report, I notice directors are not addressed in that good faith, and I return that sentiment in this report. Perhaps the TCSA finds itself in this “unfortunate situation” because it has failed to engage its members on the issues that are facing our school. This sort of turnout is unprecedented even in times of opposition within TCSA, and that really does reflect the motivation of our leaders.
We are expected to attend AGMs, participate in meetings, hand in this report that (and I am sure other directors will agree) I was never told clearly to do, or what is even required to write for it. Worst of all, the audacity to criticize us for not participating in campaigns led by TCSA, when others like myself have to jump through hoops to do simple campaigns of our own.
Which brings me to my final point, and that is the whole point of this: what exactly it is the leaders of this organization have in fact done this year? In comparison to last year, where campaigns such as The Raw Deal Campaign, Consent is Sexy, and other passionate initiatives were undertaken by TCSA executives, what has our executive done this year? As far as I can tell, the Student Centre has been the sole focus of the term–and it has led us nowhere.
When there are far more pressing issues going on at Trent, the Student Centre, which students aren’t even comfortable paying for, has become driving force of this organization, there is something seriously wrong. It would have been different if pushing for this would have amounted to something, but only to further pursue this (to what end, I am not sure) is destined to be a black hole of debt we cannot afford.
It is even more disturbing to me that thousands of dollars are being funnelled into campus parties that only promote drinking alcohol, while International Students had to fight for funding for Cultural Outreach. This is our only event that promotes inclusivity of the largely diverse student population we are supposed to be representing. It disgusts me, because Trent University is not short of campus celebrations that revolve around drinking and partying.
Does it occur to the leaders of this organization that not all religions and cultures can partake in such events? That Cultural Outreach is our sole celebration that promotes art, dance, music and togetherness with those individuals that cannot drink at these senseless beer fests? How do any of you represent these students in your term at all? Right now, Dionysus has being promoted on TCSAs Facebook page, but of course, not the open session with Gary Boire regarding the SMA. I am unable to attend the meeting Sunday, but I trust this report will indicate why other members of this establishment would choose not to waste hours of their day discussing unimportant nonsense like how much money was spent on hot chocolate and why we celebrate Dionysus. The TCSA has given up to two thousand dollars towards Cultural Outreach in the past, because it is an important event. Dionysus, no matter what you want to frame it as, is just another campus party.
Unfortunately, the leaders of this organization get paid far too much money to simply maintain a status quo and let important issues go by unaddressed until the end of the school year. I thought that by taking on this position, I would be able to help racialized students. I wanted to have a Black History Month campaign, and was discouraged from the very start. It was said at a meeting, with a reporter from the school newspaper present, that TCSA would prefer if no directors undertook BHM initiatives for their campaigns.
By being a part of this organization, I have subsequently become part of the problem. I am embarrassed by the actions of this organization, or rather, the direct inaction so very evident here. I am submitting this so that it can go on record, and those who should be accountable be held accountable.
Zara Syed, Anti-Racism Commissioner
What is the TCSA?
This letter is to discuss the current behaviors and actions taken and stated by the current student body representatives and how it has affected the students themselves at large. Certain imageries should have never been portrayed and certain comments should have never been made. Having said that on behalf of the majority of students on campus, we would like to call for an open forum with the current executives to address such matters. Until then, here is what we have to say.
We are utterly disgusted and disappointed at this year’s lackadaisical and uneventful board of executives. From the beginning of the fall semester, like every other organization, the TCSA was faced with issues, but nothing that may have caused a major uproar. Sadly the same can’t be said for the winter semester. As domestic/international students who are actively involved with not only domestic, but predominately the international student populous, we find it to be quite shameful that our student union does not value nor appreciate the beauty and importance of those with ethnic backgrounds. The TCSA stands for Trent Central Student Association–but is this student body taking preference of one nationality over another? Is it possible to have a general “voice” speak on behalf of everyone when everyone is not being taken into consideration? Wouldn’t one rather have a determinant into students wanting to participate and feel a sense of a home-away-from-home within Trent, no matter where you’re from?
The TCSA board this year has failed to not only connect more on a one-on-one basis, but also failed to do such as well with Regional and Academic groups on campus. Can someone clearly name all of it’s board members and commissioners? Can someone name every event the TCSA held and have seen properly advertised toward the student body? Can someone please name an event that had academic gain that an executive member attended? So many question with but only one answer!
We are speaking as student leaders and members among our peers in the international/domestic community, we can honestly say the TCSA has shunned so many initiatives, campaigns, and ideas brought forth this year. For them to deny this would not be a major surprise, but only certain individuals know the truth and we think it’s time for it to be heard. How can one say to another that Trent only has “one identity,” and those who are considered outsiders are simply not an Image of Trent. May we remind our student body that Trent”s main motto that makes us unique from all universities is one that states “Where the World Learns Together!”
The TCSA has no idea what they are doing. With several years of experience and being at Trent University we can truly say that this collective student body is still climbing up the ladder of a unfruitful term; and to see that some of the same board members are looking to return in higher positions and continue on is more than disgraceful. What will they do that’s different when they are engraved with a tradition that unsatisfied the current student body as is?
This needs to stop now. The irony of this tag phrase #PromotetheVote–exactly what are we promoting? We’ve got the answer that you are looking for! You have the right to vote YES or NO and often time these choices are undermined; but if you would really like to see a change and have a student body that represents you and all that you stand for, please be wise and do some research. Research point one, “A candidate is not allowed to sit in office if they receive more NO than YES votes.”
Remember as stated earlier, Trent University is a place “Where the World Learns Together.” Therefore, let me teach you, my fellow colleagues, something you should never forget: your vote counts, your morals are something worth fighting for, and it’s all in our hands to make the right choice! #PromotetheVote #PromoteHonesty #PromoteCommitment #PromoteYourRight
– Two Trent students in leadership positions