Envision TRU hosts pizza with President Fairbairn

Students shared their vision of what they want TRU to be like in 20 years’ time

President Fairbairn shared a slice with students while discussing the future of the university they choose for their education. (Aidan Grether/The Omega)

On Oct. 3, students were treated to a lunch of free pizza as they chatted with TRU’s president and shared their thoughts on how they envisioned TRU in the future.

The event, which was held in the TRUSU Boardroom of the Campus Activity Centre, was hosted by the Envision TRU team, in an effort to gather student opinions on ways the university can be improved.

While snacking on pizza slices, students were invited to jot down their thoughts on small Post-It notes and stick them onto large posters that were taped along the boardroom’s walls.

“Envision TRU has been running since the spring in several phases and as we’ve gone along, we’ve had a number of events for students,” TRU President Brett Fairbairn told the Omega.

“So what we’d like to do is just collect students’ thoughts about what’s on their mind, where they’d like to see TRU go and we’re coming near the end of the series of conversations here.”

President Fairbairn added that the main goal of the session was to ensure that the committee did not “miss anything along the way.”

He explained that Phase 2 involved a number of small group discussions that took place on campus and in the surrounding community.

“Inside the university…the envision TRU resource team has had booths set up and has been holding events to get an opinion from anyone who will share an opinion,” he said.

“But we’ve also been doing conversations with faculty and staff and with external communities, so we’ve had town halls in communities (and) targeted meetings with groups like the school district.”

When asked what his expectations were concerning the outcome of the project, President Fairbairn said he was looking for a “short document” that would “capture a vision” of the kind of university TRU can aim to be in the “long term.”

“So really a vision that will guide us for ten years and beyond,” he explained.

“I think that may include a statement of our values of the things that will always be important to us an organization and what we’ve heard so far leads me to think that being supportive of student’s success is at the top of the list,” he furthered.

Still, President Fairbairn said he also expects a “small list of priorities”, that the school can focus on for the next five to ten years, to come out of the project.

“So things we want to do more of or do differently and if we have all those things together: a short vision statement, identify our values, know what we want to work on next, to me, that’s what success looks like.”

As far as recommendations go, students said they wanted TRU to be more affordable and inclusive and wanted the university to offer more food options that included locally owned shops and stores on campus.

Dana Prymak, the Administrative Coordinator for Envision TRU, told The Omega that the team was very excited about the students’ responses.

“We started in March 2019 and we started really grand. We started off the pizza with the president, we went to student caucus, we did a bunch of tables in Old Main and all over campus,” she said.

“Since September started, we launched an entirely new student participation campaign. So we were there at their Back-to-School barbecue that was organized by TRUSU (and) we had over 150 students who came by and shared their thoughts.”

Prymak said Envision TRU has made an effort to make sure every student has a chance to voice their opinion and added that it has been both a “pleasure and a privilege” to hear everyone’s stories.