UTM’s Campus Affairs Committee has passed a motion to increase student compulsory non-academic incidental fees collected for UTMSU beginning as early as this summer, while UTM operating plans and fees are set to rise for the 2016/17 academic year.
With a majority of the committee in favour of the motions, full-time students will see a $3.44 sessional increase to their RAWC membership, a $2.21 sessional increase directed to student health services, and a $6.37 sessional increase directed to student services, among other increases. Graduate students are also faced with a $62.84 increase for a fall and winter U-Pass.
Also passed at the February 11 meeting are increases to the UTMSU dues, including a $10.99 increase to the summer U-Pass fees beginning this summer and an $8.35 sessional U-Pass increase beginning this fall for all students, while students studying in the Mississauga Academy of Medicine will see a $5.20 sessional U-Pass increase beginning this fall.
Other UTMSU fees expected to be implemented starting this fall include a one-cent increase directed to the food centre, a two-cent increase to the WUSC program, a one-cent increase to the ECSPERT fee, and a two-cent increase directed to academic societies. Full-time students will also see a $0.24 cent increase on student society fees, while part-time students will see a $0.02 increase on the same fee.
The proposed increases must now be passed at UTM Campus Council on March 3, and will then move along to both the Executive Committee and the University Affairs Board for confirmation.
According to Mark Overton, dean of student affairs and sponsor of both successful motions proposing fee increases, the ongoing Quality Service for Students deadlock between UTMSU and UTM administrators left departments without the usual feedback from QSS, and instead, departments connected with students on an ad hoc basis to gather opinions.
As previously reported by The Medium, QSS has not been able to meet this academic year as UTMSU has refused to participate in committee meetings due to a variety of alleged issues that the student union has raised, including issues involving financial transparency and issues regarding the timeline to review minutes of the meetings.
A council consisting of students and administrators, QSS is responsible for putting forth advice to campus governance bodies to aid funding and facilitates decision-making on behalf of UTM students.
A request to table this motion until the next campus affairs meeting was supported by some members including ex-officio member Judith Poë, an associate professor of bioinorganic chemistry and chemistry education, and Lina Hassan, a student representative on the Campus Affairs Committee.
According to UTM principal Deep Saini, UTMSU sent a six-page letter directed to QSS members, Campus Affairs Committee, and Campus Council at 3:37 p.m., 30 minutes prior to the meeting, which began at 4:10 p.m.
“Sending [the letter] half an hour earlier is not a serious way of communication,” said Saini.
“Unfortunately, student representatives have been met with a resolution that amalgamates the shuttle bus service, Career Centre, Child Care Centre, and International Education Centre into one consolidated fee, known as the student services fee,” said the letter. “This amalgamation of fees violated past practices where the University Affairs Board of Governing Council received advice on those services from QSS as separate fees. The impact of the amalgamation violates the protocol and the QSS terms of reference, in our opinion.”
“No referendum or meeting of QSS has endorsed the new fee or activities,” added the letter. “This proposal violates the protocol and will be challenged by the UTM Students’ Union at all levels of governance and through other means.”
In an interview with The Medium, UTMSU VP university affairs and academics Nour Alideeb suggested that more time is needed to talk about problems with QSS before passing motions.
“What I’m more concerned about is the process that we’re going through. […] You can’t just bring up a fee and want to charge it to the students,” said Alideeb after the campus affairs meeting.
“QSS is broken,” said Poë, who added that its relationship with governance is a problem and that the committee has been hearing about problems with QSS for three years. Poë also suggested that QSS become a subcommittee of the campus affairs committee.
According to Saini, the solution is to continue discussing the issue instead of walking away, and promised that he would personally get involved to find solutions to the conflict.
The next Campus Affairs Committee meeting is scheduled for March 21.