Fees, Facebook blamed for “no” votes


UTMSU saw the defeat of its Student Centre expansion referendum last week, according to official results revealed to the Medium.

In a close count, 1,621 ballots—approximately 50.7% of total votes—struck down the motion that would see an increase of $37.50 per session in students’ overall tuition. On the “yes” side were 1,551 votes, accounting for approximately 48.5% of the total votes.

“The outcome is clear that students don’t want an expanded Student Centre,” said UTMSU president Raymond Noronha in an interview.

Noronha said part of the reason he feels the referendum failed was that students didn’t want to pay the extra $37.50 per semester. He said students wanted UTMSU to negotiate with the UTM administration for a better deal than the dollar-per-dollar match.

Noronha confirmed that UTMSU will meet with principal Deep Saini, dean of student affairs Mark Overton, and chief administrative officer Paul Donoghue “as soon as possible” to discuss increasing the administration’s contribution to the expansion.

Noronha was unable to comment on whether UTMSU will hold another referendum in the future.

“I think the fact that students feel that the Student Centre doesn’t need an expansion tells us more about the condition of the student life at UTM right now,” said UTM student Vincentia Kumala.

Another student, Shivani Maharaj, added that “maybe a lot of students don’t think that the Student Centre is important because they’re so busy with the academic aspect of school life. I’m not [at the Student Centre] as often as I probably could be, because I’m often concerned about getting home after class.”

Maharaj also felt that the referendum failed because of comments on Facebook by people who he felt hadn’t performed adequate research about it. Students complained about the insufficient study space in the library as a greater priority than the Student Centre, though a library expansion is outside of UTMSU’s jurisdiction.

“One of the big concerns was that there’s not enough study space on campus and [students] were saying ‘Why not expand the library?’ ”, Campbell said.

Another reason for the failure, according to Noronha, was the existence of “rumours” about the fee increase. He said students thought that the expansion would result in a $50 increase per semester, when in fact it was an increase of $37.50, amounting to a total of $50 to be paid per semester.

“Moving forward, we can do a better job in terms of […] making them understand the essence of the fee structure and how it [works],” he said, adding that perhaps making it more simple would help avoid confusion.

He also asserted that some students believed that the funding would be used only to benefit the students’ union.

“When there are myths and rumours about […] this fee increase expanding the UTMSU office itself, getting better equipment, better furniture for the executives, or this is going to translate into higher salary for the executives, well, that’s not true. That’s not something the expansion was meant for and that’s definitely something that was in the mind of people that voted, because I have heard those comments myself, so hopefully we can dispel those myths by doing better outreach in future years,” he said.

Noronha also mentioned that the student feedback received at the time of the referendum had better informed UTMSU about students’ priorities, including the need for increased study space. He said that starting this week, UTMSU would make efforts to reach out to students to ask what they thought about the referendum and to find out how to better address their needs.

This referendum followed on the heels of another on identical terms last year, which was passed by a majority of students but was declared invalid because UTMSU had used the wrong voter list.

According to the official results, 3,195 votes were cast in this year’s referendum, representing approximately 24.8% of UTM’s student population. This represents an increase of 7%, or about 900 students, in turnout over last year.

This infographic is still up on the elaborate website that UTMSU made for the expansion campaign.
This infographic is still up on the elaborate website that UTMSU made for the expansion campaign.
  • AJ Raj Meleika

    With all due respect, but logically speaking, why should we pay for the future usage? The kitchen of the pub should be expanded? I don’t see why should it. There is a variety of food available, meaning there should be sufficient space for storage, only amateur chefs who follows specific recipes do not know how to maximize the usage of ingredients. It’s definitely not about the money.

  • Fees

    All I ever did was disappear from ROSI transcripts to make people feel happy… How could you blame this on me? I’m money that’s due. Do I implement on others how much of myself I need others to spend? No. No I don’t. I can’t, because I’m an object. A poor little object that’s the source of your scrutiny. Raymond will soon stop getting a lot of me because of this…this accusation. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  • Facebook

    Hey man these accusations are completely out of line. I stand tall in this universe as the sole medium that brings people together. Unlike my arch Nemesis Twitter, I do not contain information about people’s bowel movement times for the most part. All I do is let you people come together, like answer my question: how many real life friends would you have without me? THAT’S RIGHT PROBABLY NONE!

    ps: remind me to tell father Zuckerberg to ban Raymond and all of his UTMSU people from Facebook forever!

    • Zuckerberg

      That’s right, my creation, tell ’em like it is. Ain’t noone be givin lip to the one ‘n only overlord social networking service. If that Raymond thinks he’s going to start beef with it, imma ring up mah niggah Willy Wonka and tell him this outtta-control oompa loompa be terrorizin’ UTM. Zuck-Boy out!

  • imhungry

    This is so stupid. How about UTMSU blames themselves for the resounding NO, rather than Facebook. If they saw the comments, they should’ve replied back with clarification. To sit back and do nothing, then bitch about it because it didn’t go your way, is utterly irresponsible. UTMSU has been passing blame the entire year, staring with Orientation Week. YOU ARE THE STUDENT LEADERS, LEAD DAMMIT, STOP BITCHING

    • Resounding?

      There was something like a 1 or 2% majority — is that resounding?

  • Kelvin Chu

    On the contrary, I think the Facebook comments reflect what UTMers concern and suggestions are. UTMSU should be considering ways to address the problems outlined by students thats commented on Facebook instead of hammering their campaign asking for a vote. The main concern for UTMSU shouldn’t be about their own rigid schedule, it should be flexible enough for students to fit their concerns and be addressed effectively and quickly.

    I walked through CCT building multiple times and all I’ve been told is to vote for the expansion. Meanwhile the people asking me to vote don’t actually know where the money goes in specific. How can I vote for something that I don’t know where my money is going to? There’s already bad rumours around the campus about the bad decisions on funding allocation UTMSU makes with their >$1,000,000 budget. I don’t want to make a bad judgement call on the vote.