UTM’s principal, Deep Saini, said that students have been “grossly misinformed” about the Middle Entrance redesign that garnered overwhelmingly negative student feedback since its completion in April.
According to chief administrative officer Paul Donoghue, the total project cost was $998,000, which included not only the sign but also the reworking of walkways, traffic signals, electrical structures, landscaping, and more.
Saini said that branding investments such as the Middle Entrance are essential for inviting external funding. “We live in times where universities that cannot raise private money cannot reach the level the University of Toronto is at,” he said. “These investments, in the long run, pay off very handsomely.” He went on to cite competition from McMaster (planning to expand to Burlington), Wilfrid Laurier (expanding to Milton), and Sheridan (looking to become a university).
Plans to redesign the Middle Entrance began in March 2011. The following month, a formal project was recommended to the Space Planning and Management Committee, on which 14 staff, four faculty members, and one student sit. The student seat was not occupied when the SPMC approved the project in April 2012.
Raymond Noronha, the president of UTMSU, said in an interview that UTMSU requested formal representation on SPMC, but was rejected by the administration.
“We make a very clear distinction between UTMSU and a student on a committee,” said Saini, who went on to say that UTMSU has often requested ex-officio representation on different committees. “It is a very tricky issue. […] I am on record on Governing Council and on ECC minutes about why it’s not a good idea.”
Saini said that UTMSU has been asked to suggest an appropriate student for the committee. “I don’t think we should bar a member of UTMSU executive, but we should not be limiting ourselves to a member of the executive,” he said.
According to Noronha, the student representative on the SPMC this year is Hamza Ansari, UTMSU’s VP university affairs and academics. Noronha has said that UTMSU does not consider the SPMC process transparent and that they have put in a formal request for revision of its practices.