Incoming Dentistry students from this semester onwards pay $2,500 per semester towards funding the new facilities. (L-A Benoit / McGill Tribune)

Dentistry continues raising funds to pay off new facility loan

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McGill University’s Faculty of Dentistry is currently reviewing how to better inform incoming and future students of a $2,500 fee, which will go towards paying off the $18.3 million loan for the new facilities. $7 million has been raised towards this deficit so far. This fee was voted upon by students in a referendum passed by McGill’s Dentistry Students’ Society (DSS) in October 2013, but was stipulated to only affect incoming students from the Fall 2014 semester onwards.

Dean of Dentistry Paul Allison and the DSS have met with students multiple times over the past year to address student awareness of the fee.

“We realized that maybe not all incoming students were aware of this [fee],” Ioana Dumitru, Development associate for University Advancement of the Faculty of Dentistry, said. “So we’re trying to make this information more accessible. We’re putting this up on our website and making sure it’s well communicated to everyone so that they know [….] We are trying to keep the communication lines open, and we’ll continue to have those conversations.”

Undergraduate Dental Program (DMD) president Ryan Siciliano expressed that the administration has been transparent while working with students.

“The DSS and faculty have been working together and exploring options for the first-year and future students,” he said.  “This includes making the website more clear in regards to the fee, bursaries becoming more visible, and exploring future options regarding this fee.”

The continuation of the fee is contingent upon results of any future referenda by the DSS, which would allow students to decide on the question of any future fees, although a concrete date for a referendum has not been set.

“This [fee] is on top of trying to get donations from alumni, and getting a government contribution, so we’re trying to dig into every pocket, have everybody contribute,” Dumitru said. “It has been agreed that we will look into possibly doing another referendum. We don’t know yet, but basically, the students will always be asked whether they are willing to contribute.”

This is not the only source of funding the faculty is seeking to pay off its new facility. Outside sources have already contributed millions of dollars to fund the project, and could determine how the fee is calculated down the road.

“We still have $11 million dollars to go to pay all of this off,” Dumitru said.  “If, and only if, in the meantime we get a big donor who wants to donate all of this money, then that will change, what we ask the students to pay back.  It’s very possible that the target will change.”

McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry officially relocated all of its activities from the Montreal General Hospital to 2001 McGill College Avenue on Sept. 3.  The space houses dental and graduate students, clinical and preclinical teaching, clinical and community research, and the faculty’s community outreach activities.

“Even though we’ve only been in our new home for a few months, we are already experiencing the many benefits of this cutting-edge teaching and learning facility, which is not only more accessible to our patients, but is also designed to optimize interactions among our community of clinicians, students, and faculty members,” Allison said in a statement issued this past October.

The new facilities have been well received by faculty and students.

“We have always had outstanding students, professors and staff members in Dentistry—now we have facilities worthy of their talents,” Allison said.