On February 10, the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Campus Affairs committee passed a resolution to increase various student fees for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The meeting started off with Meredith Strong, the director of the Office of the Vice-Provost Students, presenting the annual report on all compulsory non-academic incidental fees approved by the governance and collected by the university this year.

The report presented by Strong included all the fees that students had to pay in the summer and fall of 2019, and the current 2020 winter semester.

“There are 45 student societies so there’s a number of different fees but different fees for different purposes. For example, UTM has a UPass and that’s reflected on the fees. Also, it has shuttle bus services reflected in the fees,” said Strong regarding the differences in fees that students pay across the three U of T campuses. 

Mark Overton, dean of Student Affairs and assistant principal of Student Services, outlined the compulsory incidental fee proposal approved by the Quality Service for Students (QSS), a panel of students and administrators who review proposals and comment on any proposed changes of the budget and incidental fees. 

The proposal was drafted at the QSS meetings held last month, on January 15 and 22.

Resolutions for an increase of the Health Services fee, Athletics & Recreation fee, and Student Services fee were also passed by members of the Campus Council on January 29.

Starting next year, in the 2020 fall semester, full-time students will need to pay $8.45 more per session ($1.69 for part-time students) for the Health Services fee. This is a 16 per cent increase from the previous year.

A $2.04 increase per session ($0.41 for part-time students) for the Athletics & Services fee was also approved by the council, a one per cent increase, along with a $9.10 increase per session ($1.82 for part-time students) for the Student Services fee, a 4.7 per cent increase. 

Overton explained the method involved in the consultation process for approving these new fee increases.

“We have a body that has been mentioned already, called the Quality Services to Students Committee [QSS]. [They] provide advice both in our consultation process with directors and they provide advice to CAC [Campus Affairs Committee] which employs onto Campus Council for action. This is reported to executive committee UAB [University Affairs Board] and governing council,” said Overton.

UTMSU president Atif Abdullah commented on the proposals as the QSS chair, Salma Fakhry, was unable to attend the meeting.

“It’s been a conversation ongoing for a while about the lack of resources, lack of funding. That’s, I think, something that as a student society we’ve been on board with. The need for more resources for the Health and Counseling Centre [to operate] in a more successful manner,” said Abdullah.

“For the most part, we did not see any concerns with most of the fees. [We] have been pretty content on how things are moving forward,” Abdullah added.

An overview of Before College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) was also presented by Jessica Silver, the director of Student Engagement, at the meeting.

The BSCEE was first administered by Indiana University in 2007. The survey collects data on students entering their first year of university or college. Specifically, it focuses on students’ prior academic and co-curricular experiences, as well as their expectations for participating in educational activities during the coming school year.

According to Silver, 1,176 students, mostly those who graduated from high school in 2019, responded to the survey.

“Almost half of our students are coming to campus without a friend, a third are working to pay for school and approximately 50 per cent live far enough away from campus,” said Silver.

“We have to start thinking about how this impacts students’ abilities to be engaged on campus, in a co-curricular and curricular compacity. We are planning to continue to administer the survey and look for ways to use data to inform programming and decision-making processes, specific to UTM students,” continued Silver.

The next Campus Affairs meeting will take place on March 25.

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