On January 25, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union’s Equity Centre became open to all UTM students. The planned opening had been postponed due to the recent provincial government changes, but the UTMSU hopes to host an official unveiling event for the Centre in the upcoming weeks.
The centre was created with the intention of providing a safe and inclusive space for students to share their concerns with an attending coordinator or to simply unwind in an open environment.
“I think it was so important for us to make sure that it was an inviting space because we wanted it to act as a decompression space so folks can actually come in here and feel comfortable […] We wanted folks to say, ‘wow, I can just sit here and talk to people or just sit in silence if I needed to,’” Said UTMSU’s VP Equity Leena Arbaji during a tour of the space.
While the Equity Centre has yet to officiate all its services, the centre is open from Monday to Friday. A trained coordinator can be found in the centre to provide support and guidance to students. The coordinators holding office hours include the UTMSU’s Queer and Trans Coordinator, Racialized Coordinator, VP Equity Associate and Sustainability Coordinator.
The coordinators are versed in the main foundations of equity and can talk with students concerned about issues regarding equity, sexuality, diversity, sexual violence, mental health and race. The Centre is also decked with resources to Peel Health clinics where further help can be obtained.
“We wanted this room to not only be a de-stressing room but also a room for equity groups, clubs, and societies to be present in. [There are also] resources for external groups or local institutions that advocate on equity matters,” Said UTMSU President Felipe Negata.
“[The Equity Centre is] a space where folks can come and meet, or use as a space to decompress,” continued Negata. “Recently we had the sexual violence policy consultation, and this was acting as a decompression space. In case an event is a little too heavy for folks, they can come here and chill.”
Located on the second floor of the Student Centre, Room 240K, UTMSU’s Equity Centre is the third room to the right, beside the UTMSU’s Academic Integrity Centre and the Sustainability room.
At this moment, the Equity Centre’s office hours vary from day to day, and will be subject to change. A time schedule will be posted online and on the entrance to the Equity hall for students to see.
The UTMSU has also expressed interest in turning their sustainability room, where sustainable products and tools are currently stored, into a Green Centre.
Ideally the Green Centre would be a space where sustainability-focused student groups and societies can gather and create plans for a greener campus.
Currently, the UTMSU offers student clubs and societies with sustainable products and a grant for initiatives that tackle environmental issues on campus. The Green Centre would be a room where the UTMSU and student groups’ environment efforts can be concentrated.
“It is recommended that [student clubs and societies] do make [their events] environmentally friendly, and if they do want to go down that road we can help them and provide them resources, alongside with the green grants too,” said Arbaji about the sustainable products the UTMSU offers to student groups.
“[Student groups also] apply for the grants if they are looking to hold a green event or they are trying to make something sustainable within the event, like recycled lanyards […] If there’s a large-scale event, there’s a reserve of money meant for just that.”