An operating plan for the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) that includes student fee increases in the areas of parking, food, and residence was approved by the UTM Campus Council, which oversees the campus’s academic, business, and student affairs, at a meeting on Thursday.
The operating plan was recommended by the UTM Campus Affairs committee in mid-January.
Chief administrative officer Paul Donoghue told The Varsity at that time that the fee increases would be necessary to cover ancillary costs and required reserves.
Part of the expenses are accounted for by projects to improve parking and residences.
The plan predicts a 5.5 per cent increase in residence fees, and a three per cent increase in parking permits.
Retail food rates are expected to increase only with inflation, while meal plan rates will rise at an average of 1.5 per cent.
The plan incited resistance from UTM students, and especially from the University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union (UTMSU), which circulated a petition that received over 1,300 signatures in two days.
Ebi Agbeyegbe, UTMSU vice-president, external, organized a rally outside the meeting. Around 70 students gathered in protest, holding signs that read “don’t kill education” and “fees must pause.”
According to Agbeyegbe, about seven students requested speaking rights before the meeting. Upon entering, however, the students were told that their requests had not been received.
“At the meeting, I was able to speak to the motion. I was given three minutes, but the approval still went through,” Agbeyegbe says.
The UTMSU’s protests are based upon the belief that campus improvements can be funded by sources other than student pockets.
“We went all over campus, and were able to make some noise,” Agbeyegbe says. “We made sure that we made our voices heard.”
Vibhuti Razdan, a first-year student in social sciences, says that she is extremely disappointed that the ancillary fees are increasing. “It will add more to my debt!” she exclaims. “I was optimistic that the administration will listen to the concerns of the students and do something about it but that didn’t happen. If the fees are increasing in my first year at UTM I dont know much they will increase by the time I graduate,” she adds.
“I believe that it is not fair to increase fees without justification for doing so,” says Hiba Al-Attar, a life sciences student also in her first-year, adding, “This goes to the larger issue that students are expected to pay more while the services offered remain the same.”
“I think that’s really unfortunate,” says Nimesha Basnayake of the fee increase. The fourth-year student in geography and environmental science was not aware of the fee increases and says that she would have appreciated better communication to students about the approval, perhaps by email.
The fee increases will go to Governing Council for final approval.
Agbeyegbe plans to reach out to student representatives on Governing Council, and adds that he thinks the council lacks student representation.
“I do not agree with the current governing process,” Agbeyegbe says, adding, “Most of the decisions made at this body affects students the most and we don’t like the fact that students who will get affected the most are the ones the least represented on this body.”
Of the Campus Council’s 28 members, just four are students.
On the Governing Council, there are currently eight student seats — six undergraduates, and two graduates — out of a total of 50 seats.