The University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union (UTMSU) is under fire for bribing students into signing an explicitly partisan petition condemning the Progressive Conservative Party’s recent move to freeze the provincial minimum wage hike and offering free food in exchange for a signature. The event took place on October 15th, and has since received negative coverage in various Canadian and international news publications, including The Daily Wire, The Medium, The Nectarine, and The Post Millennial, not to mention an immense amount of backlash from UTM students on social media.
UTMSU President Felipe Nagata told The Daily Wire that there was no such quid pro quo and that no one was refused food if they refused to sign the petition, but students who were at the event itself say otherwise. Third-year Political Science specialist Mduduzi Mhlanga said that he was directed by a UTMSU member to sign the petition against the minimum wage freeze, a petition that required the student to write down their postal codes, in exchange for a ticket. He was told that it was only in exchange for this ticket that he would be given a free burger at the grill, explicitly contradicting Nagata’s aforementioned claim. Third-year student Grace Meany had a similar experience and was urged by the UTMSU member handing out tickets to sign the petition regardless of her political views simply because she “was a student.”
“They acted as if there were no [political] implications to signing the petition.” she said, “It was merely a formality to get the free burger.”
Livon Mamiza, a first-year student who was asked by a friend to sign the petition in exchange for a burger, questions whether everyone who signed the sheet actually stand for the cause it promotes. “I was asked to sign the sheet for a burger in return,” Livon said, “I believe that a majority of signatories did so because free food was promised, not because they believe in the cause that the petition stands for. It is outrageous that they use student money to fund this partisan event, instead of representing the whole student body, regardless of ideology.”
Third-year Political Science major and past-President of the UTM Campus Conservatives Michael LoGiudice said he wasn’t surprised by the partisan nature of the event when he first heard about it. “This most recent ideologically-driven waste of student money doesn’t surprise me,” he said, “The UTMSU has been too focused on partisan pandering and their own political aspirations to look out for student needs. No service provided by the UTMSU— in this case the free lunch— should be exclusively offered to those students who hold a certain political view on social or economic issues.”
Despite coming under heavy criticism from the student body that funds the organization he heads, Nagata has shown no remorse whatsoever regarding the actions of the UTMSU. He recently took to Twitter to say, “I’m loving this. I feel like a celebrity,” referring to the negative media attention and student reaction that his and the union’s actions have attracted.
This is not the first time that the UTMSU has come under fire from its own students. Last year, the union was allegedly involved in actively discriminating against and censoring pro-life groups on campus, something that was covered by us here.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.