The University of Toronto Mississauga’s Campus Council approved the ancillary budget for the 2018-2019 year, which includes raising residence fees and meal plans, on Wednesday January 24th.
The rates for residences are expected to increase incrementally over the next ten years, in order to pay for phased renovations and updates to the various townhouse complexes located on campus.
The updates are slated to begin next year, with the Putnam Place residences being taken “offline” or out of service while the renovations are taking place. Members of the council stated that the temporary loss of Putnam Place would not impact the number of available beds UTM offers to students, as the apartments units in Erindale Hall will be returned to student use. The rooms on the upper floors of Erindale Hall had been converted to faculty office space for the last two years while the North Building was under construction.
One student, objecting to the raises, stated that the funding packages graduate students receive to stay on campus that encompass rent don’t reflect the raises being implemented, leaving students in debt to pay their residence fees. The student also stated that increases have been occurring for years without any renovations being completed in the homes.
When asked if the increase in fees would stop after the renovations were completed in ten years, Chad Nuttal, the director of student housing and residence life denied the possibility that increases would stop.
“I don’t see a future where we’d not increase rates,” Nuttal stated.
The university is currently focused on updating the current structure of residence buildings as part of their 10-year plan. Nuttal did not rule out a newly constructed residence building in the future.
Rises in meal plans are also expected to occur starting next year as a result of the Ontario minimum wage increase, according to UTM’s interim chief administrative officer Susan Senese.
Senese stated that the rise will be under four per cent, although a specified number was not disclosed.
The committee also discussed a university-wide plan to reaffirm the school’s stance on freedom of speech and hate speech. UTM’s principal Ulrich Krull said that the upcoming plan is due to multiple instances where white supremacist posters have been hung across the three campuses.
U of T will be establishing a website to highlight the university’s stance on supremacist groups, and actions that can be taken if such paraphernalia is found on campus. The website is also intended to help direct students to report such posts and incidents.
Krull’s report also included an update on funding from the City of Mississauga. During the construction of the Innovation Centre, the city pledged $10 million in funding.
Krull explained that the funding was designed to be given at the rate of $1 million per year and can be given annually after a vote from the city. While the funds for this year were approved by Mississauga, Krull stated that the future of the funding may be in question in light of an upcoming municipal election.
“We will be doing the best we can to promote our cause,” stated Krull.
The committee also discussed updating the university’s IT security. In a presentation given by Luke Barber, the acting director of Infrastructure, Solutions and Security at UTM, Barber explained that the campus will be adding two additional firewalls to block any hackers looking to steal students’ account information.
Barber stated that approximately 50,000 to 600,000 viruses are filtered through U of T emails each day, and there were 1,500 university accounts breached last December.
There are currently two data centres on the UTM campus. A third data centre is looking to be added in the new science building that will focus solely on preserving and protecting research data, according to Barber.
Krull also provided an update regarding the new science building. Currently, the school is trying to determine which architectural company will be designing the new building. Over 20 companies are currently competing to be selected.
The new science building is expected to draw in more graduate students and create more research opportunities at UTM.