Chris Thompson: Student Centre Expansion


Dear editor,


In this week’s edition, you will notice that I have been placed on the front cover of The Medium. I was asked to do so to promote the Student Centre referendum that is occurring this week between 10 am – 7 pm in most of the major buildings on campus. All undergraduate students are eligible to vote in the referendum, an important responsibility last exercised by students in 1999.

The Student Centre is open to all students on campus and is home to The Medium, the Blind Duck,  CFRE Radio, Sexual Education Centre, Undergraduate Commerce Society, your students’ union (UTMSU), and over ninety other clubs and many academic societies. The need for more student space in the Student Centre is an issue that has been raised by students since 2007. This is understandable, because in 1999 the Student Centre was built as an expansion of the Crossroads building to better facilitate the needs of a campus of roughly 6,000 students. Today, there are approximately 12,000 students enrolled at UTM, but the space has yet to be expanded to reflect the growth in demand for student space.

Your students’ union has been providing services, events, and leading campaigns that generate from the students and often organized within the student centre. Your student union representatives have also been working hard and long advocating for an investment by the University since 2007. We have finally succeeded in securing a university match to our investment for the capital costs, dollar to dollar, to a maximum of $2 million. This investment is important, because we will be able to expand our student centre to meet four pivotal needs, specifically, club/societies space, multi-purpose rooms, safe storage space and improvements to our food-service operations at the Blind Duck.

What does this mean to you? You have been asked whether you would like to continue the investment that our predecessors made for us to benefit today. UTMSU has ensured that the investment being  proposed follows in line with the previous investment students of the 1999 referendum made. The students made an investment of up to $50 per session toward the project that brought us the student centre today. We also want students to be aware that the $27 contribution is a temporary increase of up to three years. This will generate the $2 million that will be matched by the University, generating $4 million to expand our student centre. The $10.50 fixed contribution is to ensure that we not only ensure we can build the extension to the building but maintain it long term ensuring stability for students long term.

When you vote next week, you will be making an important decision; you will decide whether to make an investment in enhancing the experiences of current and future students. In 1999, students at UTM made the decision to invest in our student centre, an investment in all of us. A decision that has paid dividends by enabling your student’s union to provide cost-saving services, such as the U-Pass, book exchange service, tax clinics, the info-booth, etc. It has also enabled students to join or form clubs and academic societies, so they can improve their experiential learning through student lead initiatives outside the classroom.

I would like to conclude by encouraging each one of you to make an informed decision. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. I am looking forward to meeting you in the next couple of weeks.

I would like to end my letter by re-phrasing a quote by the famous novelist Norman Mailer, “It’s not our sentiments which make history but our actions.” So let’s make history this week by enhancing the student experience at our campus through an expanded Student Centre for all students.

Stay tuned for more progressive changes at UTM.


In student Solidarity,

Christopher Thompson