Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish
Image by Evan Robins

January 22nd TCSA Meeting; or, Three Hours of Passing the Buck

Written by
Evan Robins
and
and
January 25, 2023
January 22nd TCSA Meeting; or, Three Hours of Passing the Buck
Image by Evan Robins

At 1:04 PM, the January 22nd meeting of the Trent Central Student Association was called to order by Chair Robert Monico. Unlike other meetings, this TCSA meeting was notable in part for the fact of its reaching quorum. Monico introduced the meeting with a couple brief statements about decorum, stating “[the TCSA] is not a platform for personal attacks,” and proceeded with Roll Call shortly thereafter. Monico then read the customary land acknowledgement, before immediately presenting a quote from Winston Churchill, of all people: “if you’re going through hell, keep going.”

President Litow-Daye opened the President’s report with a transportation update, in which she triumphantly claimed the TCSA “defeated,” a December 12th motion by councillor Keith Riel to revert Peterborough transit operations to the previous “hub & spoke” model. While Litow-Daye said she was “unable” to actually attend the council meeting in question,  she did send a video of herself orating a speech to all councillors—as well as a letter signed by herself and General Manager Tracy Milne—in addition to having earlier connected with four councillors over Zoom. 

She further claimed that the TCSA had assembled all “stakeholders” in transit, citing both Fleming College campuses, though made no mention of having consulted the ATU. Despite rampant transit cuts, Litow-Daye claimed that transit cancellations are down to just 4%. This may, in part, be owing to an overall reduction in service, though nonetheless a reduction in unexpected cancellations is inarguably a good thing. 

When Litow-Daye says “we successfully defeated that motion,” the rhetorical framing is doing a lot of heavy lifting. The TCSA is hardly the only (to use their own words) “stakeholder” in transit operation, and claiming that the TCSA was the sole factor in this decision’s deferral is indicative of a conceited attitude towards municipal politics and a fundamental misunderstanding of how council operates. Litow-Daye also said the President would likely sit on the transit committee being struck by council but made no mention of the fact Council had recently frozen transit funding for 2023.

As the President’s address continued and the topic at hand turned towards housing, conversation became heated. After Litow-Daye mentioned her participation in an event about Renter’s Rights (dubbed “Renter’s Red Flags” by the Association), another member interjected asking what measures had been taken to accessibilize housing. Litow-Daye responded that a number of measures were being taken by the TCSA, citing a list of vetted landlords being created in collaboration with Off-Campus Housing, which would prioritize landlords with multiple properties. 

“Peterborough has a high vacancy rate,” said the Association President. “A lot of people have, like, a five-bedroom house but only one or two people live there and there’s bedrooms they’re not using. Nicole [Sullivan from Trent Off-Campus Housing] is working with [Landlords] to help them be landlords and be landlords at an accessible price so they can, like, rent their basement to students looking for housing.” 

Litow-Daye offered no citations for her spurious claims about Peterborough’s vacancy rate, which remains one of the lowest in the country. Otonabee College Cabinet President Meaghan Kemp asked how the TCSA was going to ensure that landlords would provide housing at an accessible price point given their desire to, in essence, create more landlords. To this, Litow-Daye could offer little clarification.

VP Aime Anctil’s Executive Report followed, with a cursory overview of her participation in the Housing Advisory Committee’s Anti-Racism Subcommittee, and her consternation with the ongoing housing crisis. Anctil said that Trent refuses to meaningfully address their role in the housing and homelessness crisis, citing plans for an additional residence building as a solution by proxy. 

“Yeah, it’s bad… it’s a bad crisis,” Litow-Daye echoed. Anctil also briefly mentioned her role in the Service Manager hiring committee, the results of which would be announced in the Association Resource Manager Update. 

She then launched into an “Excaliburnt Out” update recounting the TCSA’s Donut Stress event, and saying the Excaliburnt Out Task Force was in the process of synthesizing research questions from the Student Satisfaction Survey. It was revealed that a total of 445 students had signed the survey, or about 4% of the undergraduate student body. 

VP Health and Wellness, Holly Naraine then proceeded with the Health & Wellness report, announcing that she was taking part in the upcoming Spring Elections Committee. She further announced that the TCSA’s “One Stop Chop” food bank is being phased out of her portfolio as VP Health & Wellness to be taken over by Litow-Daye in her upcoming position as Services Manager. 

After the conclusion of the Executive Reports, proceedings moved on to the Spring Elections schedule. Association Resource Manager Wendy Walker announced the Elections Committee were looking for volunteers, for which VP Anctil initially volunteered, but subsequently retracted as she will be running for office in the coming Spring Elections. 

The agenda then turned to a review of changes to the coming year’s staffing plan. The President’s job description has been changed to reflect the addition of the Services Manager position, with the President being tasked with “Oversee[ing] the communications strategy with Services Manager and Communications Manager.” 

Whether or not this makes the President subservient to the aforementioned (un-elected) positions is somewhat unclear. The task of union networking was additionally moved from the VP University & College Affairs’ portfolio to the President’s, with the President being responsible for “act[ing] as a key liaison between…CUPE and other relevant labour unions.” A number of items were additionally moved from the General Manager’s portfolio to the Services Manager, and the newly-minted Freedom Lounge Ambassador position was created. 

A number of Executives were unable to vote on the changes to the staffing report as the outcomes would directly benefit them.

After the presentation of the staffing plan, the board reviewed proposed amendments to the Policy Book, to be ratified at the upcoming Semi-Annual General Meeting. When asked what the TCSA would do to directly address the ongoing Housing & Homelessness crisis, President Litow-Daye said that “In terms of working with Peterborough council, we can definitely advocate on student’s behalf.” What form this advocacy would take remained somewhat unclear.

Discussion of Counselling Services policy generated quite a buzz after Disabled Students Commissioner Emi Habel articulated concerns about the Blue Crosses student benefits’ “IM Well” app, citing student complaints, and prompting VP Naraine to interject that “IM Well sucks!” Much debate was had back and forth with President Litow-Daye opting to defer the issue, saying “we are coming out of a pandemic… these are just advocacy points that we will be approaching.”

Following a brief recess, discussion returned again to Policy, specifically beginning with a discussion of Trent Food Services. President Litow-Daye advocated against long-term exclusive contracts, arguing that competition would lead to better, more nutritious food options in an argument somewhat reminiscent of the “Invisible Hand” fallacy. 

“One of the biggest things we can do to address food insecurity is for the university to increase their wages for their faculty and staff,” Litow-Daye declared as conversation moved on to food insecurity. No mention was made of what the TCSA themselves could do to further address undergraduate food insecurity. President Litow-Daye would go on to complain in an instance of cross-talk that Trent Student Wellness diverts their surplus into other departments under their purview. No mention was made of the TCSA’s own $150,000+ budgetary surplus.

Amendments to the policy section on Police & Militarization sparked an intense discussion with  disagreement amongst certain members of the executive. The topic at hand seemed to be largely whether the TCSA could lend the use of their space for those organizing police or military recruitment. Given Trent’s prominent Forensics program, itself a discipline which produces a number of cops, law-enforcers, and other professions who monopolize state violence, concerns were raised as to the ethics of letting the police, the military, and the Forensics programs use the TCSA’s office, event space, or Freedom Lounge. 

“We do have police courses here, but we also have people who want to be police for good and not bad,” said Indigenous Students Commissioner Fiona McKenna, advocating for the issue to be removed from the SAGM and deferred until the following year. Upon a vote, this motion carried with two opposed and despite visible and audible protestations from Commissioner Habel and President Litow-Daye.

Voting on the next agenda item, having to do with the establishment of a committee for the Student Award for Excellence, elicited further exasperation from the President. After Chair Rob Monico asked for all those in favour of the motion, Litow-Daye audibly sighed, prompting Monico to remind her “I have to ask, it’s in the rules” to which the President replied, “I’m not sighing at you, I’m sighing in general.”

As the agenda approached its closure the meeting turned towards Any Other Business. VP Naraine motioned to reopen discussion of the complaints with IM Well, suggesting she send out a survey to students on the issue. President Litow-Daye dismissed the motion, however, saying “I think this should be a further conversation with Tracy, like, I think this deserves to go to the benefits committee.”

Following a motion from Students with Disabilities Commissioner Emi Habel, the board moved into closed session at 3:57 PM.

Upon my return, Association Resource Manager Wendy Walker gave a brief update announcing the Service Manager hiring committee’s decision to hire current President Litow-Daye for the position, securing her a comfortable permanent internal position. With that bombshell effectively dropped, the meeting adjourned, with the announcement of the Association's SAGM date for February 13th, 2023 in the TCSA’s event space.

While on the one hand, so much was discussed at this meeting that a motion was needed to extend it past 4:00 PM, on the other, nothing much of what was discussed resulted in meaningful policy change. TCSA meetings, for the most part, seem to act as a drawn-out affirmation of business as usual. A lot of smoke for little in the way of fire, if you will. 

Often what was not said seemed just as important as what was. This has the result of making the TCSA appear all-too-eager to unload blame onto whichever other group they view as closest to an issue at hand, regardless of their own culpability. By consequence one could argue that these meetings amount to little more than three or more hours of passing the buck. While some might take comfort in the cyclical nature of the status quo, I for one find it rather exhausting. Perhaps one day I shall have the pleasure to announce our triumphant escape from this Eternal Return of would-have-been-activism, though in the meantime it remains to be seen what change, if any, the upcoming SAGM effects.

Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish
Written By
Sponsored
Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf