I think that most of the discontent that the student body has with the UTMSU office team comes from a lack of effective communication between both groups. Communication is key if the UTMSU office team wants more students to voice their opinion and get involved.
Students often complain that UTMSU seems to not focus on important issues like lack of study space in favor of ideas like the student centre expansion or the heated bus shelter. These problems have a root cause with a lack of effective communication between the two groups.
The biggest communication issue is a lack of effective communication channels. A lot of students don’t even read the weekly UTMSU e-newsletter—they consider it spam. Some cite that the same things are posted in there every week. Others compare it to someone leaving a flyer on the windshield, an advertisement that they must now delete from their inbox.
Some students don’t even know how to voice their complaints directly to the union. They know that there’s an office but they have no idea who to raise their issues with.
Other students say that even though they’ve raised issues, they feel that those issues haven’t been addressed or followed up on.
Students often feel harassed by the union’s solicitors and volunteers. They feel that their personal space is being effective and that the concerns or questions that they raise are ignored or addressed with cookie-cutter answers. Students feel that some of the solicitors aren’t trained properly or are rude. Here we can cite the example of the students being followed out of buildings by volunteers, as pointed out in last week’s “Few attend open forum”. This type of behavior is threatening and creates an environment where students will feel unsafe voicing their opinion.
In short, if the union wants to get more students involved then they must create an environment where students can feel that their input is valued. This means that the communication between the students and the union ought to go both ways, and students must be made aware of how they can communicate with the UTMSU office staff.
Second year, philosophy