UTMSU has refused to participate in Quality Services to Students committee consultation meetings with UTM administration due to UTMSU’s claims that university administration has neglected to address concerns put forth by the union in regards to the committee.
In an email sent out to QSS members on October 1, dean of student affairs Mark Overton said no fall meeting had been set because UTMSU’s participation was needed to reach quorum.
“We have not yet attempted to schedule a fall meeting because UTMSU, a student government necessary for quorum to be achieved, signaled that it would not participate and has not informed us of any change in its position,” said Overton.
According to UTMSU president Ebi Agbeyegbe, the union will not participate in QSS meetings as the group claims that their concerns regarding the QSS committee were not adequately addressed by UTM administration.
“UTMSU has raised concerns regarding the process that involved members of the Quality Services to Students committee on numerous occasions, hoping for the matters to be addressed promptly,” said Agbeyegbe in an email to The Medium.
According to Agbeyegbe, specific concerns were presented by former UTMSU president Hassan Havili, who claimed there was a “lack of transparency in the financial model presented to members of QSS that alters fees into a student service fee schedule instead of considering each fee separately as outlined in the terms of reference for QSS”.
Other claims presented by Havili include, “a budget process that limits members from adequately consulting their members due to the time constraint” and, “a lack of respect for the recommendations that are made by student representatives of QSS to university governance”.
“I’ve not received further correspondence from UTMSU on this since my October 28 note to the group,” said Overton in an email to The Medium last Thursday. The October 28 email listed a variety of consultation meetings set up beginning November 5.
“Although we have not reached an agreement with UTMSU to launch this fall’s Quality Service to Students committee meetings, the services that are supported through fees considered at QSS are seeking students’ feedback,” said Overton in the email. “In the next few weeks, a number of directors/managers will host meetings to share information on their services, gather users’ and other students’ feedback, and shape proposals in time for the relevant governance processes.”
In an email sent to Agbeyegbe on September 10, Overton addressed concerns UTMSU expressed with regards to the new orientation week hosted by the Office of Student Transition.
“Both UTMSU and Student Life ran successful new student orientation activities that were more complimentary than in conflict, about which we can all feel proud,” said Overton. “The Student Life department continues its desire to engage early and often with UTMSU and others in joint orientation planning for future years, and in debriefing on this year’s experience as well.”
In a report submitted by UTMSU to reviewers currently conducting an external review of UTM, UTMSU made recommendations asking for the university to cease organizing orientation week events for first-year students during UTMSU’s frosh week.
When asked by The Medium why UTMSU has requested the university to stop organizing orientation events simultaneously with UTMSU’s annual frosh week activities, Agbeyegbe cited conflicting schedules as the reason for the request.
“We recommended to the university that the sessions be conducted after orientation week, not during the same time, to avoid conflicting schedules,” said Agbeyegbe. “The timing of orientation week organized by UTMSU has been respected for decades.”
A committee comprising students and administrators, QSS is responsible for ensuring services such as health and counselling, the shuttle bus, and the Career Centre, satisfy the needs of students while also working to implement improvements to the services. Aside from UTMSU, other voting members on the committee are UTMAGS, UTMAC, Residence Council, the dean of student affairs, the principal of UTM, the chief administrative officer, and the directors of the Career Centre, RAWC, and the Health and Counselling Centre.
Remaining QSS consultation meetings will be hosted by the Career Centre from 1 to 3 p.m. and the Health and Counselling Centre from 5:15 to 7 p.m. on November 11. To sign up for either of the upcoming meetings, students are required to contact either centre prior to the meeting.