Anne Boucher: The VP External For U(Commute)

I met Anne when we were running for executive positions on the University of Toronto Students' Union. I vaguely remember her coming up to my slate, Whomst'd've UofT, after the Executive Debate and told us how much she loved the entirety of our campaign. I also remember that what really set her apart from the other VP External candidates, apart from being an independent, was her focus on mental health and commuter initiatives and had realistic and tangible ideas to get to the goals she was passionate about. It's with that along with her down-to-earth personality that was no doubt the reason she currently holds the position of VP External on the UTSU. Though campaigns are way behind all of us now, Anne has not failed to start the initiatives she advocated for, one of which being UCommute. A survey intended to help lobby for a transit U-Pass for downtown students in Toronto, UCommute is already gaining popularity among the UofT student body. I thought Anne would be a perfect person to have featured on Her Campus, so read on to know a little bit about Anne and her initiatives!

 

Name: Anne Boucher

Year: 4th

College/Faculty: St. Michael’s College

Favourite breed of dog, if any: Mutts! They are the best. Like which breeds were your parents—I can guess but I really have no idea. It doesn’t matter, you're perfect! Plus you’re cute and usually smarter than other dogs.

 

Tell me a bit about yourself in a few sentences or less

I’m kind of a weirdo but I’m proud to be one. I’m super into nature (which is probably weird to say because I live in a city) and have a deep appreciation for little things and beautiful things. I feel there are a lot of problems in this world, and a lot of non-problems. At the end of the day, we’re all just animals living on an orb of water & rock, so just do what you can and be happy--that’s my motto.

 

What is your role as Vice-President External on the UTSU? What are some achievements and challenges you’ve had since obtaining the position?

As VP External, my role is to represent our students at all levels of government (i.e. municipal, provincial, and federal), outside organizations, and to liaise with other student groups/unions.

Achievements: not a lot of tangibles to prove, but a lot of groundwork has been done so far. Policy briefs, to use when lobbying the government, are done. Structures of programs & events & campaigns & such are done. U-Commute is doing well.

Challenges: I don’t know? I mean, this job takes a lot of time--I work an average of 47 hours a week, so at first, it was a little hard balancing work, social life etc, but I’m getting the hang of it! I love this job, so I really can’t complain. The people I work with are great, and I’m so fortunate.

Tell me about U-Pass. What is it and how will it differ from typical transportation passes such as a metro pass?

A U-Pass would allow students to enjoy unlimited use of transit (we’re aiming for TTC and GO)! Whereas a metro pass is something you’d have to pay for every month, a U-Pass would be included in your tuition. It’s kind of like taxes: since all students would pay into the U-Pass, it would inevitably be a lot cheaper than buying a metro pass.

It’s something a lot of universities and colleges have, but Toronto hasn’t gotten it yet. For a while, I thought it would never happen because I assumed it was something people were constantly working towards. But once I learned it hadn’t been tried in nearly 10 years (for real—2008 was the last time) I decided I needed to at least try. So, here we are!

 

What is the goal of the U-Commute survey? What will the answers be used for other than advocating for the U-Pass?

The goal of the U-Commute campaign, an effort between the full-time students’ unions at U of T St. George, Ryerson, George Brown, and OCAD, is to get a U-Pass for all downtown students.

The goal of our survey is to: a) ensure that a U-Pass is something students want, b) gather the data we need to make our case during the negotiation process, and c) get a rough idea of the price of a U-Pass. Please fill it—whether or not you want a U-Pass, or use transit! You have until September 15th to do so: www.ucommuteTO.ca

What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming year?

Everything? I’m super excited to get into the U-Pass negotiations and transit-related things, and to lobby the provincial government like a boss, and to launch a pilot for a mental health mentorship program I’m working on, and just everything in general. I want to make the best of my year here.

 

What advice do you have for students who would like to get involved with organizations and initiatives like UTSU but aren’t sure how?

It’s a lot more accessible than you think! It seems overwhelming and weird from the outside, but literally just show up. Go to commission meetings (I chair the Community Action Commission and it’s objectively really fun), join our volunteer program Blue Crew, or just get in touch with one of us if we’re working on something you’re into! And if you’re not sure who to contact, send us a general email telling us what you’re into and we’ll redirect you to who you’re looking for!

 

Favourite spot in Toronto and why?

So many. The campus is great--it’s gorgeous in the fall. I love Little Italy, I love the parks, Allan Gardens is cool, I also strangely love Bay Street. It’s just nice being in a city so diverse, full of interesting people. You can fill out the UCommute Survey here! image1/image2/image3/image4

 

Edited by Sophia Savva