The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) Board of Directors voted on January 23 to increase student levies.

The meeting began with reports from the executives on what they had done in the past month. Vice-President University Affairs Andres Posada announced the approval of the UTMSU’s proposed Course Retake Policy, which passed last week at a Governing Council meeting. The Course Retake Policy would allow students to use one repeated course in their GPA.

Vice-President Equity Leena Arbaji reported on the UTMSU’s newly opened Food Centre, which provides access to food for food-insecure students.

Student levy increases

The board then turned its attention toward proposals about increasing student levies for services provided by the UTMSU, such as the UTMSU’s Food Bank, Erindale College Speciality Emergency Response Team (ECSpeRT), the UTMSU’s Student Refugee Program, the Mississauga Transit U-Pass, Student Societies, and Academic Societies.

All the increases passed, meaning that in total UTMSU members will be paying at least $9.14 more per session, pending UTM Campus Council approval.

According to Munib Sajjad, Executive Director of the UTMSU, these fees are “like a membership fee that everyone pays into for obviously overall operations. Everything is covered from the membership fee.”

The UTMSU board approved a student society fee increase from $14.86 per student per semester to $15.20. It also approved an academic society fee increase from $1.08 to $1.10 — which marks an increase of 2.3 per cent each.

The board approved increases of the same rate for the UTMSU’s food bank fee, student refugee program fee, and ECSpeRT fee.

The food bank fee has therefore increased from $0.59 to $0.60, while the student refugee program increased from $1.16 to $1.19, and the ECSpeRT fee increased from $0.56 to $0.57 per student per semester.

The next item consisted of a levy increase to the UTMSU’s Mississauga Transit U-Pass, which allows all UTM students universal access to the MiWay transit. The U-Pass is based on a contract between the UTMSU and the City of Mississauga.

The board approved a 7.5 per cent increase for the fall-winter U-Pass fee, from $116.40 to $125.13 per student per semester, and a 6.5 per cent increase in the summer U-Pass fee, from $154.50 to $164.54.

“This [raise] also includes some of the administrative fees we have to take on by hiring about 16 students and helping pay for a U-Pass coordinator,” explained Sajjad.

The motion passed, marking the end of all student levy increases.

Health & Dental plan, coalition against Premier Ford’s postsecondary changes

Following the levy increases, the board voted to form a Health and Dental Ad-Hoc Committee to develop a health and dental plan for UTM students.

This comes as the UTMSU voted to separate from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) last year. UTM students previously paid a fee to the UTSU to administer its Health & Dental Plan.

Division I Director Sheri Hijazi, Division II Director Valentino Gomes, and Division III Director Zeina Jamaleddine were elected to the committee.

The room then discussed a motion proposed by Vice-President External Atif Abdullah’s motion to establish a coalition to combat the changes to postsecondary education funding announced by the provincial government on January 17.

The coalition would involve student unions, labour unions, student organizations, faculty associations, and community groups.

Abdullah’s proposal maintained that the announcement was a “direct assault on student unions [and] their autonomy” and jeopardized many student union services “such as Clubs funding, Universal Transit Pass Programs, [and] Health and Dental Insurance.”

“With [the provincial government’s] decision, every student will be impeached,” said Abdullah. “If it’s not OSAP, then it’s a club or society. If it’s not that, then you’re an international student and your tuition could shoot up because the university has to make up its lost funding from somewhere.”

“We don’t want you folks to be scared,” said Nagata. “We want you folks to be angry and excited [for] what is to come.”

With the passing of Abdullah’s motion, the meeting adjourned.

The UTMSU will present the approved levy changes to the UTM Campus Council at its meeting next Wednesday, January 30.

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