Last week, a referendum held the by the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) on the question of raising funds to expand their student centre failed by a tight margin —  with 1,548 students voting in favour and 1,618 students voting against the proposed expansion, according to unofficial results.

The referendum took place January 28–30, with the UTMSU campaigning heavily, urging students to vote yes and expand the student centre. The goal of the expansion was to enlarge the student centre to include multipurpose rooms and club and society offices. According to UTMSU president Raymond Noronha, this expansion would have also improved food and other services to try and make the centre more of a hub for students on campus. The current building, built in 1999, can hold 6,000 students, which is less than the number currently enrolled.

Students currently pay $12.50 towards the student centre. The expansion would have increased this to $27 for three years to raise two million dollars, with the university agreeing to match the amount raised. UTMSU also wanted the students to pay an additional $10.50 per session as a permanent increase to their fees in order to maintain current operations and increase programming. Consequently, students would pay $37.50 per session, rather than the original $12.50 for the next three years, with the cost being reduced to $23 following the third year. The amount could then only be adjusted by no more than 10 per cent depending on the approval of the UTMSU Board of Directors.

Last year, UTMSU held a referendum posing the same question, which passed with a vote of 2,258 votes for, 1,368 votes against, but was ruled as ineligible to be ratified because U of T St. George students were able to vote.

Asked about the outcome of this year’s referendum, UTMSU president Raymond Noronha said, “I think that students already are paying high tuition fees. A lot of students who I spoke to were in favour of the expansion, but thought that the UTM administration should pay the entire cost of this expansion rather than part of it being passed on to students.”

Noronha remains optimistic despite the failed vote: “UTMSU did want students to vote yes due to the inherent benefits of an expanded students centre. But at the end of the day, UTMSU is a democratic organization. We asked students for their opinion via a referenda and a majority voted against.”