Where do you go when representation fails you?


Individual initiative is rare on this campus. When I saw Nengi Adoki’s tweet last semester about allegedly increased residence fees, I invited her up to the Medium office for a chat. The best stories come from the most unexpected places.

After visiting both the UTM Students’ Union and the Student Housing and Residence Life offices, Nengi still felt left in the dark. She was confused about the procedures and was afraid she’d be without a place to stay over the break. Whereas my home is a 15-minute drive from campus, a flight across the ocean is more of a stretch during the break.

Most students—actually, most people—would retreat, disheartened and defeated. Apathy and indifference cause many issues to go unaddressed. Not in Nengi’s case.

When she realized she wouldn’t receive the help of UTMSU or any other group, Nengi invited Dale Mullings, UTM’s director of residence and student life, and Emma Beamson, the communications coordinator of Student Housing and Residence Life, to Oscar Peterson Hall to address student questions.

Last semester’s article “Demanding reasons for residence fees” and this week’s letters to the editor address the proceedings of the meeting, so I won’t add to that discussion. Instead, I’d like to point out the angle on this story that I thought made it newsworthy.

I had never heard of Nengi before. Of all the student-organized protests, conferences, meetings, and events that I’ve attended, I haven’t run into Nengi. What this tells me is that she didn’t have a job portfolio to fill or any responsibility on her to address the issue.

More notably, she approached the organization whose mandate is to represent and provide services for students. When Nengi didn’t receive support on this end, she decided to put together a meeting with students and staff. Nengi didn’t get paid to do this. She didn’t receive extra credit. She took time away from her busy end-of-semester coursework.

The political state of our society is undergoing changes. We’re expecting a new premier, teachers are walking out of negotiations with the government, and UTM’s governance is being dramatically restructured. As Nengi’s actions exemplify, it’s our own responsibility to contribute to and develop the kind of society in which we want to live. Having homework isn’t an excuse for indifference.


Stefanie Marotta