UTM as a campus has distinguished itself from its St. George counterpart by identifying as a ‘green and tranquil’ campus. A quick Google search for UTM brings up numerous images of the greenery on campus; a look at the pictures posted on UTM’s social media accounts shows a fondness for the campus deer that live here; prospective students receiving UTM application materials will undoubtedly notice the role that our campus’ green space plays in marketing ourselves internationally.
Concurrently, UTM is undergoing a period of rapid growth and construction. Building projects such as the recently-completed, 210,000 square foot Maanjiwe Nendamowinan building, as well as the recently-announced “science building” and the “arts and culture building,” are steps taken by the university to expand in the face of the ever-increasing number of students coming to UTM for a post-secondary education.
Expanded parking options are continued efforts by the university to meet the demand for students who commute to campus by car. New residence buildings are hastily coming through the pipeline in order to accommodate the growing intake of first year students on campus.
The two interests demonstrated thus far—UTM’s ‘natural appeal’ versus UTM’s obsession with growth and construction—seem to be inherently at odds with one another. While the student body has a generally favourable view of new buildings and new services offered to them on campus, the price of such development is, of course, continually building on our finite natural endowment.
Taking note of the aforementioned construction initiatives, one must wonder where the administration plans on building the new science building, the new arts and culture building, new residency buildings and, assumedly, more parking proportionate to the growing student body.
It is fair to assume that at least part of this construction will develop natural habitats on campus, thus bringing with it a host of unforeseen dilemmas.
What defines the identity of the University of Toronto Mississauga campus? While we undoubtedly love our green space and all that which it entails, we also seem to have a newfound affinity for the growth and increasing international relevance of our school, and the new buildings and construction projects which accompany it.
The very nature of the university ethos is also brought into question. Are we a school that prioritizes our tradition and the characteristics which have come to define our campus, or are we a school that continues to progress, continues to construct, and continues to increase growth in the name of raising revenues and climbing the global university rankings list?
I beg caution in the administration’s plans moving forward, because while I value a campus which is constantly improving itself in the name of student experience, I also value the green characteristics of our campus which led me to choose it for my post-secondary education in the first place.