As a concerned international student at UTM, I have questions concerning the residence fees for students that have to stay on residence during the winter break. Reading the article “Demanding Reasons for Residence Fees” printed in the December 3 issue of The Medium, a few points stated to justify an increase in fees left unsettled feelings in me. Dale Mullings gave an increase in students demanding residence as a reason for an increase in on-call staff thus an increase in fees. First of all, we were not aware of the presence of on-call staff, and while that is somewhat of a trivial issue, the focus here is why the sudden increase in on-call staff and how does it affect our fees?
On-call staff should not be paid except when they actually get called in, for which their pay is usually double the rate. If I do not call them in, do I get a refund? Also, why should there be an increase in budget for on-call staff where, as clearly stated by Dale Mullings in the last meeting, there has been no incidence whatsoever in the past years that has instigated a need for an increase in staff?
We were also told that dealings with residence fees and regulations were determined by members of the Student Housing Advisory Committee. This is flawed in so many ways, seeing that the Student Housing Advisory Committee is not in the least bit representative of the community of students living on residence. How can a group of local students who have families in the province possibly understand what I have to go through as an international student? The difference they have yet to understand is that while every member of this Student Housing Advisory Committee has to take a car drive home during the holidays, I on the other hand have no place to go to.
The $400 fee is equivalent to a month’s fee in the Homestead buildings nearby. Dale Mullings’ counter-argument was that we don’t get the same benefits. This is not entirely true. During this winter break, we don’t have access to cafeteria food, dons, maintenance staff, residence staff, or campus police. We are given on-call staff only. As for Campus Police, I hardly doubt that they are staying here simply because of the students, because it makes no sense to leave the school unprotected. Other than that, we are getting just electricity, the same as Homestead residents. As for the on-call staff, I know for a certainty that should a pipe burst in Homestead, all they need to do is call for help, same as the students staying over for the winter break. So really and truly, what makes this experience a different one?
UTM is one of the finest schools out there in the province, and I cannot deny that it has gone to great lengths to cater to the needs of its students, but half-hearted work is almost as good as nothing. While UTM is one of the schools that provide winter break residence, it is certainly not the only school that does so, as there are other schools whose eight-month residence fees cover even the December break for all the students. All I’m saying is more can be done and we, the students, know this and that is all we are asking for.