Dear UTM Students,
I hope all is well, and that you are achieving adequate preparation for your final examinations. Have a relaxing and well-deserved holiday vacation before the commencement of the winter session.
On behalf of your students’ union, UTMSU, I write to thank you for your attendance at UTMSU’s Annual General Meeting, to inform you briefly of the work being done for the Academic Policy Reform process, and to encourage you to attend the Erindale Council Meeting, that is unjustly being held on December 1, 2011.
The Annual General Meeting of UTMSU was well attended by approximately 90 students in person, and 700 students via proxy. Thank you for participating as we celebrated our collective work and prepare for the challenges ahead.
UTMSU has listened to the concerns of students, and has formally put forth lobby documents for the 1.0 drop credit and the Academic Forgiveness Policy. These policies champion the notion of constructive academic policies, rather than punitive ones, meeting the needs of students and the purpose of the University of Toronto, to foster an academic community in which the learning and scholarship of every member may flourish. Please stop by the Infobooth or UTMSU Office to sign a petition in support of these academic policies. A productive conversation with our vice-president academic and dean, Amy Mullin, is currently happening.
Erindale College Council is the highest decision-making body at UTM. It is where your parking fees, residence fees, meal plan fees, and conference fees are determined, among other factors. Despite the important mandate of this Council, there is being little room given for a proper consultation process with students. The meeting is being forcefully being held on December 1, 2011, at the busiest time for students (exam season), and with less than seven days’ notice. The constitution of ECC in section 8 states, “At least seven days’ prior notice of the dates and agenda of the Council meetings shall be given to all members of the Council and to the UTM community.” This notice requirement in and of itself is insufficient to communicate complex ancillary budgets, and much more notice should be given. Nonetheless, even the minimum notice was violated, as the agenda was send out four hours late, only after members of ECC inquired about the missing agenda. Despite letters from students and UTMSU, the chair to date has refused to reschedule the meeting.
What is even more suspicious and shameful is that these same ancillary budgets were considered last year at a January 26 meeting, and are for implementation in the following year. Hence, this is no justification for rushing this process. Nonetheless, UTMSU is uniting students for the unjust December 1 meeting. Students, Erindale Council Representatives, clubs, and academic societies are being encouraged to sign petitions opposing the proposed ancillary increases: parking fees increase of 3%; residence fees increase of 5%; non-residence meal plan increase of 3.1%; and residence meal plan increase of 2.1%.
UTMSU continues its forensic analysis of the budgets, and extensive research which will culminate in formal lobby documents and deputations at the upcoming meeting. UTMSU is principally opposed to barriers to education created by very high ancillary fees, which we see escalating at unjustifiable rates. For instance, at 2011 levels an annual reserved parking pass, at an abominable $880.33, could be used to purchase approximately two half-year courses. All students are invited to stand in solidarity at the unjust and unconstitutional December 1 Erindale College Council Meeting, at 10:10 a.m. in room 3130, Council Chambers (Davis Building)! Note that is an open meeting.
In student solidarity,
D. Gilbert Cassar II
President of UTMSU