UTMSU: from Student Centre to bus shelter

Recently struck Heater Bus Shelter Committee speaks at the union’s town hall on the expansion referendum failure


UTMSU hosted its fourth commission meeting last Monday, at which the failure of the Student Centre expansion referendum held earlier this year was discussed.

The meeting, which had approximately 30 attendees representing various student clubs, societies, and UTMSU executives, was the second open forum discussion on the referendum’s failure. The first, hosted on February 13, had only 12 participants. UTMSU president Raymond Noronha attributed February’s low turnout to its being scheduled during midterm season and receiving little advertising.

Reasons given for the failure include student opposition to raising tuition fees, a lack of student appreciation of the significance of the project, senior students’ resentment towards raising fees without having the chance to benefit from the project, and UTMSU’s failure to provide enough details about the project to persuade students to support it.

When asked by the Medium if or when another Student Centre expansion referendum will be held, Noronha said that another referendum may take place in two years. In the meantime, Noronha stressed the need for UTMSU to address other student issues on campus and improve communication between UTMSU and students before holding another referendum.

“First, let us get more connected with the student population, and then maybe we can take it from there,” he said.

A campus group advocating for a heated bus shelter at UTM briefly spoke at the meeting.

“We will lobby the university to get a bus shelter by all means necessary,” said Hassan Havili, UTMSU’s VP part-time affairs and chair of the recently formed Heated Bus Shelter Committee.

The committee had collected more than 1,000 signatures supporting the initiative since it began circulating its petition two weeks ago.

“What we want to do is set [the bus shelter] as a priority for the university to fund the project,” said Havili. He acknowledged that students don’t want to fund the project through additional fees.

When the Havili brought the concern to the Principal’s Town Hall on Wednesday, UTM’s chief administrative officer, Paul Donoghue, announced that Facilities Planning and Management is currently working with the parking and transportation office on a proposal for the Space Planning and Management Committee to install larger, heated bus waiting areas.

Other topics raised at the commission meeting included the need for permanent positive space for LGBT students on campus and improvement of the UTMSU Food Bank.