The University of Toronto Engineering Society (EngSoc) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October 30. A key point of focus at the meeting was a $1 million donation made by the EngSoc to the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CEIE), an initiative to build a new space on campus. The CEIE will be constructed behind Convocation Hall, and is scheduled to be completed in 2016.
The funding comes from the Skule Endowment Fund, to which each member of the EngSoc contributes $100 per year. This use of funds has caused some dispute among students, as the fund was not supposed to be used until two years after its inception. The purpose of the donation was to ensure a new high-quality campus space for engineering students. Architects have already planned and begun drawing the layout of the building, and the only decision left to be made is how the society should be thanked. The university has praised the donation, and has reported that it will name the space after the EngSoc.
Another issue discussed at the AGM was eliminating the position of vice-president, external, a move which engineering society president Mauricio Curbelo says will be a money-saver. One cost of maintaining the role is an expenses paid trip for the vice-president, external, on the premise of connecting with engineering societies at other Canadian universities. The EngSoc argues that other post-secondary institutions lack the experience of U of T’s, and that the meetings have resulted in wasted funds. To placate those not in favour of entirely eliminating the position, the office of vice-president, external, has been replaced by one called the “external relations director,” which is expected to be eliminated in upcoming years.
On the topic of the society’s finances, Gordon Tattle, the EngSoc’s vice-president, finance, stated: “My main focus this year regarding finance is accountability; it is my goal for you to be able to access online all records kept by clubs outlining where their funds have gone.”
Curbelo also spoke about the society’s ongoing position on proposed fee diversion from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). Curbelo said that the student experience of engineers is so significantly different from the arts and science student experience that engineers should have their own student group run separately from the UTSU. The EngSoc contends that its members have shown overwhelming support for the idea of redirecting fees from the UTSU to the EngSoc. It maintains that it can provide services identical or superior to those currently provided by the UTSU to the more than 5000 undergraduate students in engineering. The society adds that it has saved the funds necessary to financially take on the responsibilities of the UTSU should the change take effect.
Curbelo added that the EngSoc maintains its opposition to the formation of an engineering society at the Mississauga campus. He opposes the motion for a variety of reasons, one of which is the difficulty to students commuting from Mississauga to St. George campus to attend meetings for any of the 80 clubs downtown. The EngSoc also voted to retain BDO Canada LLP to perform its annual audit, which deals with an operating budget of approximately $300,000 per year.