The Faculty of Dentistry completed its relocation to 2001 McGill College Avenue, from its previous location in the Montreal General Hospital on Sept. 3.
The costs for relocation amounted to an estimated $16.5 million, though only approximately $6.5 million have been raised to date, according to the Faculty of Dentistry’s website. The Dentistry Students’ Society (DSS) passed a referendum last October creating a mandatory $2,500 per semester fee for new students from Fall 2014 and onwards to help the faculty repay the loan needed for the relocation.
The fee would not affect students in the program before this semester and was scheduled to last five years before being put up for renewal. Paul Allison, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, said that students were excited about the new facility and teaching equipment.
“In the faculty, we’ve been talking about this for many years. Everyone’s been looking forward to it,” Allison said. “There’s also some learning possibilities that students now have that they didn’t have before. There are more meeting rooms, there’s more versatility in the space, we’re closer together, so there [are] many, many advantages in the space we’ve moved into.”
The fee was met with controversy last year, with some students questioning the fairness of only charging new dentistry students.
“We had a debate within the faculty and with the students themselves,” Allison said. “The main argument of not charging [the fee] to students who were already in the program was that they did not know about this up front, that this was a new thing.”
According to Allison, McGill’s dentistry program tuition is still competitive across North America, even with the increased fee levy.
“I haven’t heard anything at all from the students, and I think the students are very aware that despite the fact that the dentistry society has voted for this contribution, they are still paying much less for their education in a dental program here compared [to] anywhere else in North America,” Allison said. “I think they can see that they are still getting an extremely good deal—very new equipment, fantastic facility, and much cheaper than any other dental school outside Quebec.”
Nazanin Hojjati, president of the DSS, also said first year students had not voiced any dissent to her so far.
“To be honest, I haven’t heard any complaints yet,” she said. “I’ve spoken to first years, I’ve met them, but no one has mentioned it to me.”
Hojjati went on to praise the new facility’s location and the improved equipment.
“We didn’t feel like we were part of the McGill community before, as we were so far away from the main campus, but now we feel that kind of unity with the university, which is great,” she said.
Yuxin Mei, fourth year Dentistry also spoke in favor of the move.
“[Is] it fair for existing students to decide what incoming students will be paying? Honestly, I don’t see how else they would’ve done it,” Mei said. “In my opinion, incoming students were told what they would be paying, they can make the decision themselves [….] I think it is one of the best facilities in Canada right now.”
Two other dentistry students declined to comment on the new facility or the DSS fee.
Additional reporting by Cece Zhang.