The Campus Council convened last Wednesday and approved a motion to increase the 2017/2018 ancillary fees for food, residence, and parking.
Proposed by UTM’s chief administrative officer, Paul Donoghue, the increases would involve 3.8 percent for food, five percent for residence, and three percent for the parking permit price, while the “Pay and Display” daily maximum rates are expected to remain the same as this year’s fees.
Alex Paquette, the co-president of the UTM’s Association of Graduate Students, stated that graduate students earn between $25,000 to $26,000, and their tuition is $8,000 and $9,000. If students were required to share an apartment for a year, that would make living costs around $12,000, leaving most graduates with almost “absolutely nothing” to live with, according to Paquette.
Paquette added that the increases make it “very hard” to live on campus and “very difficult” to come to the UTM campus for graduate school and research.
Donoghue explained that UTM’s mean plan prices are average when compared to other universities.
According to the agenda, there will be changes to the meal plan structure for the next academic year, in which students will be provided with “simpler choices” when purchasing a meal plan, and will also have an increase in the amount that gets carried over to the following year.
The agenda added that all of the profits from the food plans will be used in the investment of new outlets, including the Davis Building Food Court.
As previously reported by The Medium, Chad Nuttall, the director of student housing and residence, had announced a 15-year initiative to renovate and build new student housing on campus. Nuttall had stated that the five percent increase comes from how competitive UTM is among its neighbourhood.
As for the three percent parking fee increase, Donoghue stated that it would be used to repay the debt of the new parking deck that opened earlier this academic year.
According to the meeting’s agenda, “the cost of the parking deck has been paid for by the ancillary via its construction reserve of $3.0M and a loan from the UTM operating budget of $6.97M.”
Jose Wilson, a board of director at large for the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students, commented at the meeting that if the prices continue to increase every year, UTM might lose its competition because students would think its services are expensive.
Donoghue explained that the university deals with balancing the prices “the best way” it can.
He added that UTM is able to balance the prices with a three percent increase in parking, which Donoghue referred to as a “significant achievement.”
The meeting’s agenda also stated that there were search committees for each category. The Student Housing and Residence Life was reviewed by the Student Housing Advisory Committee, which included consultation with graduate students, undergraduate students in residence, as well as UTM’s Undergraduate Residence Council.
As for the food committee, the agenda states that it was reviewed by a Food Service Advisory Committee, in which undergraduate and graduate students, UTMSU, faculty, and staff were involved.
The motion was approved with a majority, while only Paquette and Wilson voted against it.
The next Campus Council meeting is scheduled on March 2.