Here’s what you missed at the September Board of Governors meeting

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Prapti Bamaniya

A motion was passed to hold a student referendum to raise the compulsory health and wellness fee at the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Board of Governors’ (BoG) meeting on Sept. 28. 

The vote will be to increase the current health and wellness fee, according to board materials, for all full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from $3.93 to $34.90 per term.

According to Jen McMillen, vice-provost, students, the referendum will take place in late October or early November. If the referendum is passed by students, the university will implement the increased fee starting September 2023.

According to McMillen, The funds will go toward increased access to mental health services and integrated care and navigation. “The institution has been investing in student wellbeing increasingly over the years,” she said. “But we’ve gotten to a point where there’s only so much we can do without this partnership.”

A minimum of 25 per cent of the increased fee revenue will be spent to support and better frontline wellbeing operations. 

This includes hiring additional clinical and support staff, process improvements and wait time reduction, which will benefit students in the fall 2023 semester, McMillen said.

She added that the remainder of the funds would be put toward a new 18,000 square-foot student wellbeing centre located near O’Keefe House, a project that is still pending approval of the BoG. The centre will open in fall 2025 if approved.

McMillen said the university needs to enhance student wellbeing efforts because of the negative mental health impacts after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Surveys have found declining mental health among Canadians during the pandemic due to high levels of anxiety and loneliness, as well as changes to the care they were able to access,” said McMillen in the meeting. 

For the last six months, McMillen said the office of the vice-provost, students spoke to student focus groups to make this decision. “We have been engaging with student leaders around campus to really talk to them about what might be a…good value for [students’] money.”

Here’s what else you missed at the September BoG meeting: 

Updating new signage

While many signs on campus have been changed to reflect the university’s new name, Saeed Zolfaghari, the vice-president, administration and operations said there are more than 10,000 signs that still need to be updated. He added that de-branding and updating efforts are underway.

For TMU’s digital environment, Zolfaghari said computing and communications services are transitioning systems to the new name to minimize disruptions for the community.

This means making changes that are visible to users on the website first before handling back-end changes on the site, which must be scheduled as they cause disruptions to the whole site, explained Zolfaghari. 

Orientation Recap 

Over 2,500 students attended orientation week, which ran from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5, said TMU president Mohamed Lachemi at the meeting.

More than 1,000 students moved into residences, he added. Among them were 316 international students arriving from a total of 51 countries, as well as 773 domestic students—78 per cent of whom are from Ontario. 

The “Made of Grit” campaign

The school’s new “Made of Grit” campaign is a “big part of the renaming process and defines who we are,” said Lachemi. 

He added that the campaign’s promotional video had reached 5.7 million exposures and has been watched at least 1.6 million times since its release.

Appointing an actuary for the school’s retirement pension plan

The BoG passed a motion to appoint Willis Towers Watson as the actuary for the university’s retirement and pension plan for the Dec. 31 valuation.

The next meeting is set to take place on Nov. 20.

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