Students voice concerns at budget consultation town hall

Students give details on TRU’s top 5 major issues as outlined in the budget consultation

TRUSU executive director Nathan Lane moderated the budget consultation town hall on March 28. 30 students attended the two-hour event to tell of their experiences with some of TRU’s major issues. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

As the second part of their budget consultation, TRUSU hosted a lively town hall discussion open to all of its members last Wednesday in the TRUSU Lecture Hall. Students were given the opportunity to expand upon their responses to the budget consultation survey held back in February.

The survey, which took place between Feb. 5 and 16, garnered 391 responses from across TRU and highlighted parking, food service, study space, academic advising and course materials as the top five issues as TRU this year.

“The whole purpose of the budget consultation is to give students an opportunity to contribute their experiences,” said Alex McLellan, TRUSU’s university governance coordinator.

The two-hour long event was divided into five twenty minute sections (as per the five categories) and saw students in attendance give anonymous responses in order to assure them that they could say as much as they wanted. Many TRUSU representatives were in attendance, with 30 students at the town hall in total.

The first issue on the table was parking, a recurring theme in the budget consultation. Very few students admitted they were satisfied with the current parking situation at TRU, while no student in the room thought that parking on campus is priced fairly.

Between a lack of spaces, blocked off spaces in Lot N from shipping containers and buses and construction, students weren’t overly happy with the parking situation at TRU.

Matt Eriksson, who was elected to serve on TRUSU’s University Affairs Committee in September, went on record to voice his concerns over the Lot N space counter specifically.

“They installed that counter in N lot, people would leave and it wouldn’t go down,” Eriksson said. “You end up seeing people parking illegally.”

Nicholas Warner, recently elected to TRUSU’s campaigns committee, told of how construction near the Clock Tower affected his girlfriend’s commute to class.

“My girlfriend purchased a reserved spot by the Clock Tower. The construction made her walk to class that much longer,” Warner said. “She feels she was pretty much robbed for paying for that spot. When she talked to anyone at TRU about parking, they said that they couldn’t do anything about it.”

Warner added that if his girlfriend knew that would happen, she would have never spent over $1000 on parking in the first place.

When it came to food service, students weren’t much happier. Many complained of a lack of variety, a lack of vegan options and high prices. Some students brought up the fact that TRU wastes way too much food in catering events.

“Is there any service that is going to be rolled out regarding food waste at these events?” said vice president external Cole Hickson, who also gave permission to be quoted. “We live in a society where people are hungry, many of those people are students, we need a service or app so that we can accomodate the wasting of food with the hungriness of students.”

As with food service and parking, the entire Lecture Hall was unanimous in their opinions. While some students said that TRU has an adequate amount of study space, many students believe there is a lack of quiet space where electronic plug-ins can be found.

TRUSU’s executive director Nathan Lane even admitted that plug-ins have been a concern for the last three years.

“For three years students have said there isn’t enough plug-ins and they are in the wrong spots,” he said.

On academic advising students were once again unanimous, with few admitting that they had had good experiences, with those that did say they had good experiences admitting that their friends weren’t so lucky. Hickson even proposed a “rate my advisor” website similar to the already existing Rate My Professors.

Went it came to the final category of the town hall, course materials, students in attendance made it clear that textbooks at TRU are too expensive. However, many believe the biggest problem lies with underutilized textbooks.

“I have had professors put required texts in the course outline that we never used,” admitted one student.

Despite this, many students thought the idea of Open Textbooks is a great one and needs to be expanded upon.

While the data collection portion of the budget consultation is now finished, TRUSU still has a long way to go. Throughout the next few months, the Students’ Union will work to put student experiences on these issues into reports, which they hope to submit to TRU’s administration this fall.