Students denied democratic rights on the basis of citizenship at the University of Toronto

TORONTO, Feb. 9, 2015 /CNW/ - Starting today, students at the University of Toronto will begin voting in an election for their representatives on the University's highest decision-making body: the Governing Council. Three students who sought candidacy will not be on the ballot, because they are either permanent residents or have international student status. At the University of Toronto, these students are not permitted to represent their peers.

"International students just want to be equal members of the University," said Cameron Wathey, Vice-President Internal & Services at the University of Toronto Students' Union (UTSU), an international student from St. Maarten. "Our tuition fees are the highest at the University, we lack equal access to healthcare, and yet we contribute so much to the University community. We want a say in our education."

The University of Toronto Act is the law that governs the University of Toronto's governing processes and it currently requires all Governors to be citizens. The requirement denies democratic rights to nearly 10,000 international students who pay up to six times more than their domestic counterparts in tuition fees in addition to permanent residents who pay domestic tuition fees. International students and permanent residents at the vast majority of universities in Ontario are able to represent their peers.

"I think the question is, why should I not be able to serve on the Governing Council?" says Yeliz Beygo, a student who was denied the opportunity to run in the election. Beygo is an international student who has Swiss and Turkish citizenship and is a vice-president of the International Students Association (iNSA). "Only five schools in the province prevent international students from participating. We can work together to change this."

Students at the University of Toronto have launched a campaign for international student representation and are fighting for changes to The University of Toronto Act such that all students at the University are able to run in future elections.

The University of Toronto Students' Union represents over 50,000 undergraduate students at the University of Toronto.

SOURCE University of Toronto Students' Union

For further information: Cameron Wathey, Vice-President Internal: 647-525-8384 or vpinternal@utsu.ca; Sandra Hudson, Executive Director: 416-722-8842 or executivedirector@utsu.ca

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