Parking and food service top concerns in budget consultation

Once again both parking and food service have been cited by students as major issues at TRU

While this year’s budget consultation is far from over, with a town hall taking place on March 28 before TRUSU can start drafting up reports over the summer, it is clear from this semester’s responses what the biggest issues on campus are.

Between surveys completed in-person and online, TRUSU had 391 respondents this year, the highest number ever and has since shared the results from the initial stage of the consultation with The Omega.

“Our top five have been parking, obviously, and then second was food service, then study space, then advising and finally course materials,” said TRUSU president Tatiana Gilbert. “We had some really intense days of campaigning and getting students to fill out the surveys, be it with the most amount of participants this year. It is interesting to see study space as a new item on the list.”

While Gilbert admitted that nothing about this year’s consultation was particularly surprising, the information collected reinforces the idea that TRU still has some major work to do in several areas.

“I believe students deserve a response for everything that has been going on with parking,” Gilbert said. “It’s been a fiasco since September. The one positive thing that has come out of that is that they have decided to freeze fees for one year.”

Though much of the results of this year’s survey are directly comparable to last year’s, one of the biggest changes was TRU’s responsiveness to last year’s budget consultation.

“One thing that is surprising is that the responses from TRU on last year’s budget consultation have been the fastest they have ever been. We were really happy to see TRU’s responsiveness to the results from the previous year.”

Gilbert attributes TRU’s response time and attentiveness to the previous year’s survey as one of the reasons why the 2017/18 academic year has been such a success for TRUSU campaigns; with TRU’s administration having responses to the priority areas of the survey for the union by January 2018.

Besides the freeze on parking rates, which Gilbert attributes directly to student discontent, TRUSU’s Hungry For Choice and Open Textbook campaigns have also been successful.

Though Aramark’s contract has been extended by a year, TRU has promised to commit to a full and meaningful conversation with the union and its members on the quality and diversity of food services on campus.

As for Open Textbooks, Alex McLellan, TRUSU’s university governance coordinator, believes that due to the positive responses TRUSU has received from administration, TRU will likely have a grant funding program to support faculty writing textbooks within the year.

“We have had some really positive responses from TRU on Open Textbooks,” he said. “So much that we’re hoping there is going to be a grant funding program to support faculty to write those textbooks in the next year and then continue on it in the next year and try to build that culture and practice on campus.”

Given TRU’s response time to student concerns has been gradually increasing, TRUSU remains quite optimistic about the future.

“I think there are some areas where we can definitely be optimistic about change, like actual change for students,” said McLellan.

The next step for this year’s budget consultation will be to host the town hall, McLellan said.

“We’re basically halfway down the student budget consultation for this year,” he said. “The survey is the first half and the second half is the town hall which is coming up on March 28 and that is open to all students to come participate. It’s 6 p.m. in the Lecture Hall here.”