The Quality Services to Students committee remains in a standstill as UTMSU continues to refuse to participate on the committee, preventing the QSS from reaching quorum.
“UTMSU has decided not to participate, which means we can’t meet the quorum to officially conduct business,” said Mark Overton, dean of student affairs, in an interview with The Medium. “We’re happy to work through the concerns but the place to work them out is by meeting.”
According to Overton, if the standstill persists, QSS will not be able to resume and provide advice to university governance on student services; instead, consultations with students will carry on using other methods such as surveys, group and individual discussions, or brainstorming and prioritization exercises.
“At this time of the year, services would normally have presented their budget and fee proposals for discussion at QSS, to shape its advice to campus governance,” said Overton in his email.
To achieve quorum, at least one UTMSU rep must be present amongst the 11 members needed hold an official meeting. The 11 members must include a minimum of six students and representative of two student councils holding seats on the QSS committee.
According to Overton, his last contact with UTMSU was on October 23, when UTMSU president Ebi Agbeyegbe sent him an email outlining his concerns with the QSS.
“We are not comforted by the response so far from the university administration regarding our request raised periodically and as recently at our last meeting on Wednesday, October 21,” read Agbeyegbe’s email. “We do not want to continue to support a process that continues to reject or marginalize the views and opinions of student representatives.”
Also in the email, Agbeyegbe informed Overton that UTMSU’s decision on whether to partake in the QSS would be made by November 2 following the union’s board meeting on October 31. As of press time, it is unknown if UTMSU discussed the QSS at the board meeting as minutes from the meeting have not been posted online.
“UTMSU has said they would follow up on things, but there was no follow-up,” said Overton, who said there have not been any QSS meetings since the beginning of the academic year.
Agbeyegbe did not respond to The Medium’s interview request to discuss their involvement on the QSS.
Overton explained to The Medium that since QSS does not hold meetings over the summer, and since there were no meetings at all this academic year because of UTMSU’s decision not to participate, these situations have not been addressed.
In a recent email from Overton to the QSS council, Overton stated that reports from the Physical Education, Athletics, and Recreation Department and the Health and Counselling Centre, amongst other student services, were to be sent to QSS members that outlined feedback the services received from consultations held.
“[These] consultations would normally have been launched though QSS-endorsed advisory groups in the late fall. At this time of the year, services would normally have presented their budget and fee proposals for discussion at QSS, to shape its advice to campus governance,” said Overton. “The services undertook equivalent consultations to help shape their plans and are presenting their proposals.”
QSS issues raised by UTMSU date as far back as 2013/14, when former UTMSU president Raymond Noronha wrote an open letter outlining his concerns with the QSS committee which included problems with financial transparency and problems with meeting minutes among others listed.
Consisting of students and administrators, the QSS committee puts forth advice to campus governance on issues related to the funding of and services to UTM students. Aside from 11 staff members, the committee comprises 11 student members, which include two UTMSU executives, and four students appointed by the union, two student representatives from the Athletic Council, two representatives from the Residence Council, and one from the Association of Graduate Students.