The Quality Services to Students (QSS) committee met on January 22 to continue the unofficial voting on the tabled service fees from last week, as well as to conduct the official voting on the entirety of the student services fee.

In the previous QSS meeting, the UTMSU abstained from voting on three streams within the student services fee including academic support, student clubs & funds, and international student support.

While student clubs & funds and international student support received unanimous votes in favour, all of the UTMSU members in the meeting voted against the approval of academic support.

“In the proposal offered on academic support, which includes academic support related portions of the International Education Centre, the Centre for Student Engagement, [and] student life initiatives, the proposed increase is $8.62 to $10.55,” stated Salma Fakhry, QSS chairperson.

UTMSU president Atif Abdullah expressed his concern on the matter and explained why the UTMSU members had voted against the motion.

“Academic support is very important, and I don’t think any of us can deny that,” stated Abdullah. “But I do think that some of the proposed changes are things that have either been continued for a few years or are things that don’t necessarily equate to direct academic support.”

“While I do respect some of the proposals, we didn’t believe that it necessarily required an increase,” continued Abdullah. “We just didn’t see major changes that have happened in the last three years that justify why there would have been an increase.”

Despite their expressed opposition on the matter, when it came time to conduct the official voting on the QSS budget proposal, all UTMSU members voted in favour, which resulted in the committee’s approval of the proposed budgets.

In an interview with The Medium, Abdullah stated that their actions were due to the structure of the QSS voting procedures.

“Unfortunately [the way] QSS is structured, even though every bucket has a straw poll for us to vote down, student services would in bulk be voted down, putting down literally every category,” stated Abdullah. “And while we did disagree with one of them, there were some that we did agree on.”

“I know, an increase is not an easy thing to swallow. But at the end of the day when the Health and Counselling Centre (HCC) is able to provide more embedded counselors and have a bigger office space that does help students, that is meeting some of the demands of our students,” continued Abdullah.

The budget proposals will now advance to the Campus Affairs Council, Campus Council, and the University Affairs Board of Governing Council for final considerations.

The announcements in last week’s QSS meeting also included one by Erin Kraftcheck, director of the Health and Counselling Centre, who stated that they were watching out for the coronavirus and were following the guidelines provided by the Canadian government.

“We’re keeping an eye on the holding situation with the new coronavirus that’s originating out of China and we’ll be following along with the public health recommendations,” stated Kraftcheck.

“We’re going to be doing increased screening for students who are presenting with fever and respiratory symptoms and following protocol set up by public health in order to ensure that we’re managing the situation appropriately,” continued Kraftcheck.

Jessica Silver, the director of the Centre for Student Engagement, also announced that the nominations for the Principal’s Involvement Award will begin soon.

“Nominations for the Principal’s Involvement Award will be going out in the near future. So that’s eligible for third and fourth-year students who have had [an] exemplary station on campus,” said Silver.

Felicity Morgan, the director of the Career Centre, also went over the successes of the recent Get Hired Fair. “For last week’s Get Hired Fair, the final number of attendees for students [was] 2,159,” stated Morgan.

“Lots of great feedback from employers who are complementing our students, which is always great to hear, and lots of students got offers from Trillium [Health Partners] for the summer.”

The next QSS committee meeting will be on February 12.

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