U of T Mississauga’s Dean of Student Affairs Mark Overton has been accused by members of the Quality Services for Students (QSS) council of tampering with a financial statement to introduce a new U-Pass fee to incoming Mississauga Academy of Medicine students. Though denied by Overton, the accusation has called to question how the campus ratifies its motions.
Every recommendation for new student life fees must follow a strict application process. First, it must be approved by the QSS, which represents every major student council at UTM campus. It is then handed by the Dean of Student Affairs to the University Affairs Board (UAB) for authorization.
Following the QSS’s February 14 meeting, Dean Overton presented a different version of the meeting’s student services fee schedule to the UAB without the QSS council’s knowledge. The document, which proposed a new U-Pass fee for the medicine students starting this fall, was eventually approved by the UAB.
The arrangement, however, was rendered void for breaching the process outlined in Article E of a document called The Long-Term Protocol on the Increase or Introduction of Compulsory Non-tuition Related Fees.
In his letter of apology to Vice-Provost Students Jill Matus, Overton admitted that a wrong version of the form was submitted due to a “tracking error on [his] part.”
UTM Principal Deep Saini explained that it was “a perfectly understandable error.”
“The fee schedule goes through various preparations and there are quite a large number of [them]. As an accident, Dean Overton took the wrong version of it,” he said.
But QSS members have rejected Overton’s version of events, claiming the document was deliberately doctored without student consultation.
“It is factual that [the fee] was never discussed whatsoever,” said Gilbert Cassar, president of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union. “There’s a process in adding something to a fee schedule. First it must be discussed, and it must be voted for inclusion to even make it to any version of fee schedule whatsoever.”
“The minutes were clearly doctored and misrepresented the actual events that transpired,” alleged UTMSU VP External Munib Sajjad.
PENALTY FOR STAFF MISCONDUCT
Convinced of the dean’s misconduct, members of the QSS have urged the university to reprimand Overton.
“I think there’s a clear consensus that Dean Overton is not being held accountable for his actions of misconduct and lying consecutively not only to student reps but also to his colleagues,” said Sajjad.
“If a student cheats, they’re penalized, suspended, but when the administration such a grave violation there’s no consequence, that’s the problem,” added Cassar.
The university, on the other hand, maintains that there is no longer an issue.
“I and the other administrators of the university have accepted the apology and we have moved forward from that. It has been long resolved,” clarified Saini.
Both parties agreed that procedural changes must be implemented to prevent reoccurrence of similar incidents.
Overton himself has initiated a new “version numbering system” to ensure that no tracking errors will be made in the future while the students recommended that QSS’s “independent and objective Chair” should be the one presenting documents to the UAB instead of the dean.
NO COVERAGE FOR MAM STUDENTS
The UAB’s decision to nullify the U-Pass for the Mississauga Academy of Medicine would have denied 54 new students access to UTM’s U-Pass as well as other campus services for the next school year.
But campus administration passed an emergency motion reinstalling the use of all campus services to the medical students. These services, according to Saini, will be shouldered independently by the university.
The QSS was reportedly not consulted during the conception and approval of this new policy.