Dear members of Quality Services to Students committee, administrative faculty, and administrative observers,
I am writing to share with you the concerns raised by representatives of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union at meetings of the QSS committee. These concerns have been communicated in past QSS meetings and we hope that members of governance will be able to create spaces for these matters to be adequately resolved.
The concerns are:
The decision by the university administration to pursue non-QSS-approved priorities with no recourse from student representatives.
The lack of a permanent secretary, and meeting minutes been circulated without adequate notice.
The lack of transparency. A budget process that prevents members from adequately consulting their members.
As a students’ union, we are further concerned that the current governance timeline does not permit for adequate consultation regarding the budgets of university services.
Administrative decisions that circumvent the will of students
In the 2012/13 governance cycle, student representatives made it clear that they were not in support of certain expenses that will be forced onto students. One example is the cost of the purchase and maintenance of the shuttle bus ticket machine. Student representatives made it clear that the machine will serve faculty and staff, since students have access to a T-card and do not require shuttle bus tickets. All UTM Students are charged an incidental fee through the shuttle bus portion of the student services fee. At meetings of QSS, all student representatives on QSS made it clear that we do not support a mandatory charge for all students to purchase, operate, and maintain a ticket machine that will not service UTM students. A decision was made by the administration to purchase the ticket machine and charge all UTM Students for the operation and maintenance of the ticket machine. We request that the campus council and its committee review whether operation of university services are supported by QSS since they are funded primarily through QSS-approved ancillary fees.
QSS secretary and submission of meeting minutes
As per the terms of reference of the Quality Services to Students committee, the secretary of the body must be recommended by the dean of student affairs. We would like to encourage the administration to make a recommendation for a secretary as soon as possible. We are also concerned that meeting minutes are circulated during the meeting day and not in advance of meetings as per the expectations set out in Section 4: Policies and Procedures. We strive to abide by the terms of reference of this important protocol body. Unfortunately, over the past 12 months we have noticed a trend of meeting minutes submitted just before meetings or at meetings. This prevents members from adequately reviewing and approving of these minutes in a timely manner. We hope this trend will be rectified moving forward.
Transparency of Sheridan and St. George shuttle bus operation
We have made many requests for more information on the status of the amalgamation of the Sheridan and St. George shuttle bus operation. We have pointed to the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities guidelines that govern how services funded through program fees are charged.
We have not been provided with any information that validates student approval for the amalgamation of the Sheridan and St. George shuttle bus operation as per the expectations of the protocol. We are also concerned with the prospect that the administration will recommend specific program-related costs to be borne by all students through an ancillary fee charged to all students. Our request for more information regarding the decision to amalgamate a program related expense (Sheridan service) with the St. George shuttle service has not been addressed to this date.
The budget process: inadequate consultation
We are concerned by the current governance cycle that allows for little consultation regarding the proposed university services. In the current cycle, we did not have adequate time to properly review the proposed budgets with all stakeholders. The working groups of Quality Services to Students were not presented with budgets that they could review before making recommendations to the entire body. This is a concern that we hope will be addressed moving forward.
Finally, we would like to thank the directors of all the university services for being accessible throughout the process. We believe that the ongoing concerns will be resolved if we work together to find solutions that challenge our current governance system at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
With respect, and hope for a future where we can work together.
UTM Students’ Union
On behalf of the board of directors