Campus Council has passed a motion to increase residence and parking permit fees for the 2016/17 academic year.
In the third Campus Council meeting of the academic year, held on Thursday, members discussed mental health in residence, an update on talks to establish a U of T presence in Brampton, and the costs of parking, residence, and food on campus.
Parking fee increase
Parking permit rates will face a three percent increase in the 2016/17 academic year, following a vote by Campus Council.
Paul Donoghue, UTM’s chief administrative officer, informed the council that UTM’s campus parking is at full capacity and a new parking deck expansion will create an additional 300 vehicle spaces. As reported in UTM’s November 2015 service ancillary report, the construction project will begin this March.
Other options, such as smart parking, were discussed but deemed unbeneficial as a long-term plan. Smart parking would allow students to connect an app on their phone to a sensor in the UTM parking lots; the app would then locate an available spot and direct the user to the open space.
Donoghue reasoned that, while innovative, the technology would not provide the additional resource UTM needs and instead students should be encouraged to arrive early to campus to claim a parking spot for their vehicles. Council agreed that a lot expansion is a better use of funds to prepare for the growing UTM population.
Pay and display rates will not be affected.
Residence rate increase
Residences fees will also face an increase in the 2016/17 academic year. The five percent increase will be implemented through a new invoice structure on ACORN.
Chad Nuttall, UTM’s director of student housing and residence life, introduced a new “all-blended rate”, which students will see on their residence invoice come September.
Residence fees are currently divided into components including room, laundry, and rezNET (wireless internet) fee, but will be redesigned to eliminate confusion and present a single owing sum in place of multiple line items.
According to Nuttall, UTM’s older campus residences are in need of renovations and fee increases will allow for an improvement to living accommodations on campus. Nuttall also reported that the fee increase had already been presented to the Student Housing Advisory Committee through multiple meetings, ultimately endorsing the five percent fee increase.
Food on campus
Vicky Jezierski, UTM’s director of hospitality and retail operations, provided an overview of prices and revenue of meal plans on campus for the 2016/17 academic year, stating that there would be no price increase from any non-branded food providers.
According to UTM’s 2016/17 service ancillary operating budget, meal plan charges will not change; however, the report forecasts sale increases, as ”cafeteria sales are expected to increase 5.5 percent due to higher participation rate related to projected enrolment and an anticipated return to historical levels of non-residence students purchasing residence student meal plans”.
The service ancillary report also stated that unrestricted surpluses from food services will be used towards upcoming renovations to UTM’s food services, which include the Davis cafeteria, Starbucks, North Building Phase 2, and a new transaction system in 2018.
Representatives from UTMSU were present at the meeting and voiced opposition to the fee increases.
UTMSU president Ebi Agbeyegbe and VP university affairs and academics Nour Alideeb did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.
In an email sent to students on the day of the meeting, Agbeyegbe advised students of the proposed increases and also requested students email UTMSU with their feedback on the fee increases.
“Students have overwhelmingly communicated their opposition to the proposed increases due to the impact the increases will have on their academic experience at the University of Toronto Mississauga,” read the email. “Students at the University of Toronto already pay the highest tuition fees in the country.”
U of T in Brampton
UTM VP of special initiatives Ulrich Krull substituted for U of T VP and UTM principal Deep Saini when providing Saini’s report to Campus Council, which featured discussion of U of T’s consideration to expand into the City of Brampton.
As previously reported by The Medium, Saini was accompanying Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne on a trade mission to India.
According to Krull, the possibility of establishing a U of T presence in Brampton remains unclear, although if U of T were to establish a presence in the City of Brampton, the facility would be home to a new set of programs that would benefit from Brampton as an economic and manufacturing source. The council also discussed the idea of locating UTM’s forensic science and criminology departments in Brampton due to the city’s correctional facilities, detention centres, and prominent social work.
Also discussed, tentative negotiations with Brampton transit concerning a shuttle bus and other transit options were reportedly moving slowly and no definite information could be offered.
Residence mental health
In the same presentation made to Campus Affairs Committee last month, Heather Burns-Shillington, a personal and student family life counsellor at the student housing and residence life, expressed concerns over long waiting times for students seeking emotional assistance and presented a new appointment procedure to improve availability.
A new web form has been designed to provide students 24/7 access to book an appointment instead of waiting for business hours to call and schedule an appointment.
The next Campus Council meeting is scheduled for March 3 at 4:10 p.m. in Council Chambers.