Last Thursday, the UTMSU held an open-panel town hall in the Presentation Room of the Student Centre. Rather than being a formal meeting, the town hall aimed to facilitate communication between the UTMSU and the students, said UTMSU President Joey Santiago. The audience, composed of around 30 students, also had the opportunity to learn of upcoming UTMSU projects.
President Santiago, who chaired the event, began with a presentation outlining the various services that UTMSU provides. These include the UPass, Orientation Week, the Blind Duck Pub, the Print Shop, bursaries, and funding for campus clubs and academic societies.
Organizers presented video footage from Orientation Week 2009 to highlight UTMSUs efforts in assisting first-year students in their transition into university. Students in the audience belted out Orientation Week cheers as they watched the video, including the well-known, This is madness! This is Erindale!
Outlining their goals for this year, President Santiago listed campaign goals that included increasing student participation, strengthening the campus presence in the city of Mississauga and establishing unity amongst students. Its important for everyone to know what their union offers and that they need not sequester themselves. We take direction from our members and our members are you, said the UTMSU President.
The new discounted student rate for the TTC Metropass was introduced as recent achievement of the student union. Next year, university students can buy a Metropass for $89—a $22 discount off of the regular price.
Many students in attendance stated they had been greatly affected by the loss of 400 parking spaces, due to the construction of the new Health Sciences complex and the Instructional Centre. According to President Santiago, more than 100 students are on the waitlist for parking passes. The
University administration has proposed a multilevel parking structure to accommodate the parking demand, and the UTMSU is currently working to ensure the project is not funded from students pockets, said Santiago.
During the one-hour question and answer period, a student asked, What actions will the student union take to provide greater study space?
The library does not have the capacity to hold 11,000 students, said the President. The Student Centre, however, will be open for those studying late into the night. The Presentation Room, Green Room, Board Room and Blind Duck Pub are all options for students to utilize. Another student suggested that UTSMU book classrooms as study space.
Many in the audience complained about what they called the unsatisfactory food options on campus. According to President Santiago, the University shares a contract with Chartwells, the food company who primarily supplies the University.
While previous student unions managed to ensure that the Blind Duck Pub remained separate, the contract includes restrictions on its development. The Blind Duck Pub cannot expand or price items in such a way that they will become a competitor of Chartwells.
Residence Council President Marc Bressler told students that the University administration are held accountable for food prices, as any increase must be approved by the administration. Santiago encouraged students to email Bill McFadden, director of hospitality and retail services at UTM. Perhaps this will result in an outcome similar to that of the librarys restoring its service, said President Santiago.
Stressing that the unions door is always open to students, Santiago said there would be regular town halls to ensure were on track with students and called the town hall very productive.
I wish the turn out was a little bit better; its important for students to get involved. But the topics that were brought up were good, said second-year political science student and UTMSU board member Thomas Kristan.
Upcoming union-organized events include the Exam Destressor and the February Reading Week trip. The Exam Destressor, according to the UTMSU, is one of its most popular events. Free food and drinks will be provided for students that optimize the librarys 24-hour service. The first Exam Destressor will take place on December 1 in the CCT atrium.