Nearly 100 people attended the Principal’s Town Hall last Wednesday, more than double the attendance of the last meeting in October. Last week’s meeting focused on ways to help students achieve academic success, as well as other campus issues.

UTM’s vice-president and principal, Deep Saini, welcomed the audience with opening statements.

Diane Crocker, UTM’s registrar and director of enrolment, delivered a presentation on possible options for a fall Reading Week in the 2015/16 school year. Saini added that UTM would conduct an online survey before making a decision.

In response to a question submitted earlier on support for international students, Amy Mullin, UTM’s vice-president academic and dean, said, “International students will have the opportunity to participate in mock lectures and Headstart sessions, and benefit from new student group advising and other social engagement opportunities.”

Dale Mullings, director of residence and student life until the end of this year, announced the launch of the UTM Experience Program.

“The co-curricular orientation transition program will see all [international] students receive either in-person, web-based, or over-the-phone transition support from a successful upper-year student,” he said. In its introductory year, international students, first-generation students, and students on residence with be eligible.

Questions submitted online concerning general campus issues were skipped in order to make time for the open mic portion of the town hall. Among them were questions on TA equality training, the completion date of the Outer Circle Road work (mid-April), enforcement of smoking restrictions, and student civility on social media.

For the open mic portion of the meeting, Saini acted as moderator.

The first question was about the lack of permanent LGBT positive spaces on campus. Erik Hernandez-Oberding asked if there were any intentions of including specific support space for marginalized groups in the expanded Kaneff Centre and North Building.

Paul Donoghue, UTM’s chief administrative officer, said that the issue hadn’t been raised in any of the project committees, and that there’s no available space in either building. Donoghue suggested action through management committees, and added that he’s open to get in touch with.

Next, Vincentia Kumala asked if there was any intention of having equity training for faculty members and creating LGBT positive space in the classroom. Saini said, “UTM now has its own equity and diversity officer, who has been working vigorously on all issues, including training of staff for greater sensitivity.”

UTMSU’s VP part-time, Hassan Havili, presented a petition with over 1,000 signatures in support of the construction of a heated bus shelter. Saini said that he has good news for Havili, and Donoghue announced that UTM is already making plans to install heated bus shelters on campus. A proposal is being developed now; a completion date was not given.

Another question addressed insufficient study and computer space with the growth of the student population.

“This is a priority in all new buildings,” Donoghue said. “There will be small, bookable rooms and furniture arrangements assigned in all new construction projects.” He added that because of the success of study lounges in IB, more study spaces are planned for the new buildings.

Other questions concerned campus “food insecurity” and the availability of gender-neutral washrooms after the expansion of the Kaneff Centre and the North Building.

All questions and answers from the Town Hall are available online on the website of the office of the vice-president and principal.