“Men’s issues” groups test limit of free speech on campus

UTSU suspects member of U of T community connected with online attacks on multiple students

“Men’s issues” groups test limit of free speech on campus

Senior administrators at the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) continue to debate the acceptable limits of free speech on campus in the aftermath of a lecture delivered in late November by Dr. Warren Farrell.

The lecture was marked by a sizable protest and heavy police presence, during which a group of protestors blocked the entrance to the lecture hall where Farrell was scheduled to speak.

“We have at the University of Toronto a wide range of contentious events, in which views are expressed that are offensive to some,” said Provost Cheryl Misak in a December 11 statement. “Our primary aim with respect to these events is to ensure that freedom of speech is protected, including the freedom to protest, as long as the law is respected.”

Police formed a cordon in front of MacLeod auditorium during parts of Farrell's lecture. Q_E_D/TWITTER

In a dueling statement released in the days following Farrell’s lecture, the UTSU condemned the event. “Despite complaints to the University administration, and requests from students to maintain our campus as a safe space free from oppression and discrimination, Dr. Farrell was given a space and forum to spread his misogynistic, hateful theories at U of T,” read the union’s release.

Farrell was invited to speak on campus by a group called Men’s Issues Awareness at the University of Toronto (MIAUT). The group is listed as a registered student club with ULife. Its mission is described as “consciousness-raising, public education and efforts to change public policy” in relation to “men’s issues,” and the group pledges “positive activism to advance a healthier society” and “the highest level of co-operative dialogue with other campus and community organizations engaged in activities of similar aims and goals.” Calls to the contact number listed on MIAUT’s ULife profile were routed to the voicemail inbox of the Canadian Association for Equality, an organization whose name appeared prominently on posters promoting Farrell’s lecture.

UTSU executives said the union had been in contact with the administration to express their concern over the club since early last fall. In spite of the union’s stated opposition, Farrell’s lecture was approved by the Office of Student Life, which vets potentially controversial speakers before they can speak on a U of T campus.

Through a spokesperson, the university declined to elaborate on the vetting procedure in place. Misak’s December 11 release stated in part that “the vast majority of the University of Toronto community understands that freedom of expression is vital to the mission of universities and cannot be reserved for those with whom one agrees.”

In the weeks since the event, the UTSU has urged the administration to make the vetting procedure more stringent. “I support free speech, but there is no right without its limitation,” said UTSU president Shaun Shepherd. “In this case, it’s obvious that [Dr.] Farrell had overstepped that limit a few times, not through what he was saying at the lecture, but the content of his other speeches and books, and the way he approaches these issues. It is sexist at the core.”

Shepherd said he was “ashamed” that the university “keeps poking at this free speech claim.” Misak’s statement concerning Farrell’s lecture suggested that “the disruption of this event by protesters was a threat to free speech.”

“The way I’m viewing this is a test of the clause of these limits. If this isn’t the limit, then what is it? How far can someone go? I strongly believe this has been a breach of the university’s own policy,” said Shepherd. The union has urged the university to “use the [Ontario] Human Rights Code as a guideline in identifying events that may create an unsafe space for its students, staff and faculty.”

The university’s “Statement on Prohibited Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment” cites the Ontario Human Rights Code as one of several “foundational” documents, but also stipulates that within the university’s context, free speech is “the most crucial of all human rights.” A separate document, the “Statement on Free Speech,” adds that “there are limits to the right of free speech” referring specifically to instances “when members of the University use speech as a direct attack that has the effect of preventing the lawful exercise of speech by members or invited guests.”

“We want to ensure that events the university is promoting or allowing should fall in line with the general ethos of the university,” Shepherd said.

“Current policies don’t account strictly enough for situations where students become at risk under the guise of freedom of expression,” said UTSU vice-president, equity, Noor Baig. “In my view, a lot of clarifications around violent language and hate speech need to be made in policies and upheld in practice.”

As this debate over free speech has unfolded, a website called “A Voice for Men” has singled out several female protestors who were among the approximately 100 people who disrupted Farrell’s lecture in November. Three students, including former UTSU president Danielle Sandhu, have been the subject of vitriolic blog posts. The group has also added two students to an online registry hosted on register-her.com, which publishes the names of women it labels variously as “bigots” and “false rape accusers.”

A Voice for Men has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “woman-hating” and a focal point in an expansive misogynistic online network. Contacted for comment, Farrell said he has “no affiliations with AVfM, and only a hearsay understanding of what they have done.”

The posts on “A Voice for Men” include photos and other personal information gathered from Facebook and Twitter feeds. Although the site claims that the posts do not advocate or endorse violence, those targeted described receiving threatening emails and phone calls, “surveillance” on campus,  and other acts of intimidation and harassment.

“Unfortunately, when contentious issues, such as this one, spill into the world of blogs and internet participation and increasingly involve individuals external to our community, they can very quickly escalate. That has happened in this situation and has resulted in the vilification of a very small number of individual students,” read
Misak’s statement.

The UTSU confirmed that it has been documenting these cases of threats and harassment, and that this documentation has been shared with both the university administration and campus police. “We believe that there must be some member of the U of T community fueling this online witch hunt,” said Shepherd.

“There is no ambiguity here, the Men’s Issues Awareness group and its national affiliate organization, the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) are part of the same broader ‘movement’ as ‘A Voice For Men’,” said Baig. “In fact the CAFE website previously hosted a number of links to AVfM which have more recently been taken down, most likely to feign dissociation.”

“I think it’s fairly clear that there are individuals within the university community with access to locally obtained information who are relaying this information, perhaps even composing the posts themselves,” Baig added.

Baig said that the union attempted to raise the issue of targeted individuals and compromised student safety at a meeting with university administrators on November 28, but the issue was not deemed urgent enough at the time to merit discussion. The topic was raised again at a  December 4 meeting. Baig said it was not until after this second meeting, on December 11, that Provost Misak released her statement (quoted from above), “in which the safety of students seemed to only have been a minor issue on the side.”

In the December 11 statement, Misak wrote that the university “takes these threats seriously and we condemn them. We have reached out to individual students, and will continue to do so, in order to assist them in developing safety plans so that they may go about their academic and other endeavours on our campus safely.” A subsequent statement, released on December 20 and signed by Angela Hildyard, vice-president, human resources and equity and Jill Matus, vice-provost, students, reiterated that the university “deplores” the targeting of individuals and communities, and promised to take legal action as appropriate.

Warren Farrell on Campus

Warren Farrell is a controversial figure whose published works include The Liberated Man, Why Men Are the Way They Are, and The Myth of Male Power. On his visit to U of T campus in November, he gave a speech outlining his theory of how men are disadvantaged in Western society.

Topics discussed during Farrell’s lecture included suicide rates among veterans, custody battles in family court, video game and pornography addiction, rates of male unemployment and underemployment, and violent sports. Farrell describes himself as a former feminist, and the only male ever to have been elected to the Board of the National Organization for Women three times. He began to include men’s issues in his work about gender in the mid-1980s.

Bloor McDonald’s location shuttered

Site of iconic restaurant once graced by Ashlee Simpson sold to financiers to develop condominiums

Bloor McDonald’s location shuttered

On January 6, 2013, without much notice,  the McDonald’s at 192a Bloor St. W. closed permanently, leaving U of T students both confused and hungry.

A favourite spot for U of T students looking for a quick bite between classes, or at least a bit of food to offset the effects of late-night partying, the McDonald’s will surely be missed as it is torn to down to make way for a new condo development.

From 1960 to March 2008,
McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd. leased the site from the City of Toronto,  paying rent of just $1,250 per month for most of that period. The rent was to be renegotiated in 2004, with the city proposing to increase it to $16,250. McDonald’s countered with an offer to buy the property for $3.38 million.

Eventually, and controversially, city council voted, in 2008, to accept McDonald’s tender. The value of the land on which the corporate-owned location sat — the building itself was owned by McDonald’s — was estimated by some to be considerably higher, between $7 and $9 million, but the encumbrance of a 99-year lease made it less attractive to any other purchaser.

The land was in turn sold to a consortium led by Bazis International Inc., a developer based in Canada, but financed from Kazakhstan, also responsible for the now defunct 1 Bloor St. E. condominium tower, a 78-storey luxury development, the vacant site for which will eventually serve as the location of a considerably less ambitious project. Bazis has also participated in the construction of Astana, the ostentatious artificial city decreed Kazakhstan’s new capital in 1997.

High fences and hoardings have been erected around the old McDonald’s, but the derelict former hamburger restaurant is still visible.

Barring complications, 192a Bloor and adjacent lots will become home to the Exhibit Residences, a 28-storey condo tower consisting of four stacked cubes and 192 residential units. The structure will stand on lots formerly occupied by Gabby’s Bar and Grill, Lobby Lounge, China Gardens, and Pho Hung.

In 2005, Ashlee Simpson memorialized the McDonald’s at Bloor when she drunkenly berated staff and customers, demanding that one kiss her foot, and attempted to climb the restaurant’s counter. A video of the incident can be found on YouTube.

Brandon Bailey, a former Victoria University student, reported his reaction to the closure on Facebook: “I happened to walk by when the security guard locked the door for the final time. Confused, I walked up the unlit ramp to read the closure sign.

“As I passed him, the security guard shot me a sad look over his shoulder and muttered, ‘It’s closed forever, kid. Condos.’ He then turned down the adjacent alleyway and faded into the darkness. It was about as dramatic as a condo-tower-overtaking-a-McDonalds could be.”

The building it occupied for more than 50 years will be demolished, but the terms of its sale to Bazis provide for a new McDonald’s location inside the Exhibit Residences.

Feds lose data for hundreds of thousands of students

RCMP, privacy commissioner investigating theft of external hard drive containing financial and personal info

An external hard drive containing the personal and financial information of 583,000 Canada Student Loan borrowers went missing from a Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) office last year, the department announced Friday.  The portable hard drive contains the names, dates of birth, addresses, social insurance numbers (SIN), and student loan balances of students who were recipients of the loan program from 2000 to 2006 in 10 provinces and territories, including Ontario.

No banking or medical records were compromised. However, records of 250 employees of the department were also on the hard drive.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner are both investigating the matter.

Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, called the loss “unacceptable and avoidable,” and said new security policies would be put in place to ensure the safety of Canadians’ personal information.  Finley also promised that the department would make efforts to inform those affected by the privacy breach.

“The department will be making every effort to contact the individuals whose information was lost. This includes direct
notification to those for whom we have current contact information,” Finley said in a statement released Friday. For those whose contact information is not up to date, a phone number has been set up by the department to address concerns.

Jaroslava Avila graduated from U of T in 2011, and received federal loans in 2005 and 2006. She says she is still unsure if she has been personally affected by the breach.

“This is just one more thing for students to worry about on top of paying thousands of dollars in students loans,” said Avila.

Munib Sajjad, vice-president, university affairs, of the University of Toronto Students’ Union, says he had around $6,000 of federal loans taken out during the time frame in question. His personal information may also have been comprised in the breach.

“I’m kind of baffled, and really, really surprised that our government is losing student records,” said Sajjad.

UTSU president Shaun Shepherd says he is deeply concerned by the loss. “I’m surprised and I’m disappointed by the fact that a significant amount of student information is out there and no one knows where it is. That’s a scary concept.”

Shepherd notes that the HDRSC is currently describing the information as “lost” rather than stolen.

“I don’t understand how that amount of information is kept on a hard drive and lost,” said Shepherd. “I’m hopeful that maybe it’s just been misplaced.”

As of The Varsity’s press time, significant questions remain unanswered regarding the loss.

According to a timeline released by the HDRSC, the hard drive was first reported missing on November 5, 2012. But the Departmental Security Officer was not notified until November 28, and it was not until December 6 that the department discovered what was on the lost hard drive.

Departmental spokesperson Christian Plouffe declined to comment on either gap. Plouffe also declined to comment on why the RCMP was first informed about the matter on January 7, 2013, over two months after the hard drive was first reported missing.

Canadian Federation of Students chair Adam Awad appeared to take the timeline at face value. “Their response was that they weren’t aware that the drive contained the information until several weeks after it was first reported lost,” said Awad.

Awad believes the government is taking the appropriate steps now. “We appreciate that they set up a hotline and that they’re taking efforts to monitor the students’ accounts that were affected,” said Awad.

The Varsity contacted the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, who said they had been notified verbally on December 17, and received written notification on January 7. The Privacy Commissioner only launches investigations where a “serious possibility” of a breach of the Privacy Act exists. “The OPC is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy rights of Canada,” read a statement sent to The Varsity by manager of external communications Scott Hutchinson.

University officials were informed of the breach by the provincial Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. The Ontario ministry informed universities via an announcement routed through the Ontario Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. It remains unclear how many former and current U of T students are affected although U of T spokesperson Laurie Stephens has confirmed the university is looking into the matter.

Stephens said the university stores records received from the HDRSC. “The university has strong security procedures around storage and access in order to safeguard the personal financial information of students,” Stephens said in an email.

New federal guidelines to protect international students, fight fraud

Universities unaffected as “career colleges” express apprehension

New federal guidelines to protect international students, fight fraud

New guidelines, proposed by the federal government for international students, have been met with broad support from post-secondary institutions. The guidelines, released by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in late December, outline new measures designed to safeguard international students from fraud.

“There are too many stories of international students who pay a lot of money and leave their families back home to study in Canada, only to find out they have been misled,” said Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney.

“Citizenship and Immigration Canada is proposing changes to the ISP [International Student Program] which would ensure that the primary intent of an international student in Canada is to study, and that this study takes place at an educational institution eligible to host international students,” says ministry spokesperson Rejean Cantlon. “The reforms are designed to cut down on fraud in the system by ensuring that students come here to study as their primary purpose, not to work.”

Cantlon also says the changes should ensure that students are attending “educational institutions eligible to host international students.” Several other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the United States, have passed similar reforms in recent years, as have other nations identified by the Ministry as “key competitor countries.”

UTSU president Shaun Shepherd was cautiously optimistic about the announcement. “At face value, it generally seems positive to me,” says Shepherd, adding that the union would continue to monitor the implementation of the new policies because “the devil is always in the details.”

The proposed guidelines state that only designated institutions will be permitted to host international students, and that programs lasting less than six months would be automatically ineligible. The changes would not affect university programs.

The six-month rule will, however, impact “career colleges,” which are smaller and more informal institutions that train students in a variety of disciplines, including estheticians, pharmacy assistants, and early childcare assistants. Serge Buy, president of the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC), has raised concerns regarding the proposal.

“I’m a fan of the changes in general, but I’m not a fan of the changes that basically state that only a certain type of institution can accept international students,” says Buy.

Many career colleges run programs that are less than six months long, and are at risk of losing their ability to accept international students. Provinces and territories have been asked to compile a list of institutions designated to receive international students. If they do not do so, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration will compile the list instead.

Buy is concerned that certain provinces, including Ontario, may have trouble compiling their lists on time. “In this case I have no faith that things will be done on time,” says Buy. If that becomes the case, and the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration compiles Ontario’s list, some of the institutions Buy represents could be left out.

Buy also points out that career colleges have comparatively small class sizes, where it is easier to take attendance and monitor students. “We should get international students and everyone else should be put on hold until they start taking attendance,” says Buy.

“I think the proposed federal changes are pretty positive” says Alysha Li, president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. “In the end, what we’re hoping Canada does as far as Ontario, is to provide as many opportunities for international students as possible.”

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) have both been vocally supportive of the new measures.

“Canada’s ability to attract and retain top international talent is of vital importance to ensuring our future economic prosperity and global competitiveness,” said a representative for the AUCC in an email.

The ACCC has also been a strong supporter. The group’s president, James Knight, has touted a partnership between Citizenship and Immigration Canada and India, which has “resulted in at least 13,000 students being accepted into Canada’s public colleges and institutes, from India alone, this year … up from roughly 1,500 Indian students four years ago.”

The proposed changes are in the process of a 45-day public comment period, where interested parties and individuals can submit comments or concerns. Shepherd says the union will be submitting a response.

Canada still attracts far fewer international students than competitor countries such as Australia, the United States or the UK. However, Canada has shown double-digit increases since 2008. The proposed reforms have raised concerns amongst some, including Buy, that Canada will become a less attractive destination for international students.

The ministry maintains that the changes will have a net positive effect on the educational sector, arguing that the proposed measures would not only reduce fraud but would “improve overall services to international students and educational institutions, and strengthen Canada’s overall image as a study destination of choice.”

Newman Centre courts controversy

U of T community voices concern over gay Catholic support group

Newman Centre courts controversy

The establishment of a group called “Courage” at the Newman Centre on U of T’s St. George campus, which sets out to “provide support for the inclusion of the Catholic homosexual person into the Catholic Church,” has been widely critiqued as offensive since it was first reported by The Globe and Mail earlier this month. Increasing scrutiny has prompted the university to issue an official statement distancing itself from the program.

“I know there are some people who have been going to the Newman Centre, who no longer feel they can participate in parish life because of [the Courage] program, and will either look for another Roman Catholic community, or maybe feel like they have to leave their own faith tradition because it’s yet another instance of the church being inhospitable,” said Reverend Ralph Carl Wushke, ecumenical chaplain at the University of Toronto.

Courage is an apostolate of the Catholic Church which ministers to “persons with same-sex attraction.” It was founded in 1980 by Father John Harvey, and introduced to the city of Toronto six years later.

Though not an official entity of the university, the Newman Centre Courage program was formed at the request of “a number of people [within the university community] aspiring to live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality,” said Bill Steinburg, communications manager at the Archdiocese of Toronto.

“Courage is one program available to those in the university community who wish to be involved — only those who wish to be involved have any direct connection with the group,” said Steinburg.

“This is an important ministry to those who have chosen to be involved, and I support their wishes to gather in prayer and discussion,” announced Newman Centre pastor, Chris Cauchi, during Sunday Mass on January 6, at the adjacent St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church.

The controversy surrounding the program stems largely from “the twelve steps of courage” patterned after the twelve steps for recovery from alcoholism, originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. (aa).

“The twelve step program is pathologizing same-sex attraction as a sickness, and I think that’s quite hateful,” said Wushke.

“Reparative therapy is harmful and doesn’t help gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people come into their own, to find a healthy, whole life that is spiritually grounded in a positive way,” Wushke continued. “It may look like a positive solution for people suffering from the effects of homophobia, but in the long-run, gender identity is deeper than surface behaviours or passing experiences. I don’t think you can be cured of it. I think you can possibly repress it for a while but it’s going to come out in some other neurosis.”

U of T alumnus Rob Walker reflected on his past exposure to groups like Courage: “I was told for years that I am a ‘bad Christian’ for living as a gay man,” said Walker.

“In the best circumstances, students who would opt for a program like Courage do so because they have the full courage of their convictions,” Walker explained. “These young adults may experience tremendous pressure to be ‘good Catholics’ by conforming their self-understandings to what the church teaches. It is very difficult to achieve clarity of thought when you are told that, should you decide to live as a well-adjusted queer Christian, you are arguing with God in a state of moral sin, or potentially destined for the flames of hell!”

The existence of the program has also provoked a condemnatory response from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (ustu). The union wants the program discontinued, as does the university’s vice-president of human resources and equity, Angela Hildyard.

“This has no place on a university campus,” said Shaun Shepherd, president of the utsu.

“I would encourage students to familiarize themselves with the notorious history of the ex-gay movement, and how programs like Courage continue to stigmatize queer identities, while offering little in return to participants,” said Shepherd.

Walker offered encouragement to fellow students, saying “There are ways to read Scripture, respect tradition, and incorporate the insights of science and personal experience that allow people to live as queer people, and I encourage you to make sure you give yourself the opportunity to ask many questions and to express your doubts and joys. In the end, choose the path that allows you to flourish — and allow others, in peace, to disagree with you and to make choices that are different from your own.”

Work permit rules eased

Under new rules proposed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), international students attending designated institutions would be permitted to work off-campus, without applying for a $150 permit. Though the changes remove a procedure that was troublesome, staff and students at U of T say that the CIC should also focus on other issues in international student policy, such as financial aid concerns.

Benefits of eliminating the work permit go beyond saving students the $150 application fee. International students would be more likely to find employment as they would no longer be limited to jobs on campus.

Zohair Masood, an international student from India, welcomes the changes as he was “constantly looking for jobs on campus,” but had trouble finding a position as there were “very few jobs and a lot of students were competing for them.”

Jeff Jifeng, an international student from China, said many students he knew resorted to other means to find work, because of the permit. He described how many international students he knew took jobs which paid less than minimum wage: “I once had a friend who worked in a tea shop in Chinatown for six dollars an hour with no benefits and her employer paid her in cash.”

Centre for International Experience director Miranda Cheng said students faced few issues with the permit, noting that “other than a delay in the processing time, the process is not that painful.” In fact, says Cheng, “Canada is very much at the forefront in terms of how international students have the right to work.”

Cheng and assistant director Holly Luffman emphasized that while the work permit was rarely a source of problems for students, they did face challenges with bureaucracy such as missing the deadline for renewing visas, or misunderstanding rules surrounding some of CIC’s other programs.

Both administrators and international students agree that beyond this one welcomed change, the federal government should institute other reforms that would strengthen financial aid and employment for international students.

In regard to his own experience in dealing with the job market, Jifeng said that “if the Government of Canada wanted to attract more international students, it should provide a platform designed to help them find jobs.” Jifeng also noted that many employers “prefer permanent residents, so the government should also provide some sort of incentive for companies to hire international students.”

The CIC has a different view on this matter, stating that “finding a job is the responsibility of each student who wishes to do so. Students may qualify for the on-campus, off-campus or post- graduate work permit programs.”

The Explainer: How do final marks make their way to ROSI?

Stuff on campus, explained

ROSI is the Repository of Student Information at the University of Toronto. With students clamouring on social media for their grades, The Varsity sat down with Yvette Ali, the Faculty Registrar, Records & Associate Director at the University of Toronto’s Transcript Centre, to find out how students’ final marks wind their way on to ROSI.

The Varsity: So how does marks’ approval work?

Yvette Ali: What happens is, the instructors submit their marks on the system, the chairs log into the system and approve the marks, and as soon as the marks are approved, we just upload them onto ROSI and it doesn’t take very long. So the turnaround time between when a chair approves a mark and when we upload a mark is usually less than a day.

So one of the things that students may be confused about, but we try to clarify, is that no marks are posted during the Christmas break. No marks are posted over the Christmas break.

I think some students check it, and think their marks are going to change. But it also says on SWS that their marks won’t change and won’t be posted.

TV: So for the teaching assistants, how do they help professors grade marks? Who makes sure that all the marks are fair between all teaching assistants for a course? 

YA: So, the teaching assistants submit all their marks to the instructor and the instructor reviews all the marks and is the one to submit the final marks onto the eMarks system. It is the responsibility of the instructor to ensure that there is consistency among the marks of the various TA’s.
TV: What do you think is a student’s biggest concern about their marks?

YA: Some students ask if their marks can be posted up faster, but we, in the Registrar’s office, turn them around as fast as possible. If it takes longer, the instructor hasn’t submitted them — that’s all. But instructors have a certain amount of time to submit them. It’ seven business days after their final exam or last day of class if they have no final exam.

TV: So submitting their final marks takes seven business days.

YA: Yes. But that’s business days. So it doesn’t count weekends or the time we are closed for Christmas break. Actually, most of the concerns from students are the marks they receive, which has nothing to do with how it’s administered. But there is another whole process for doing that, which is detailed in the Academic Calendar. Miscalculation of grades is very rare.

TV:  So for the most part, it seems like students are just overly anxious or impatient when it comes to marks?

YA: Yes, that’s true, but I think that students feel a lot of pressure when it comes to marks. A lot of students are interested in going to graduate school, things like that. So there is pressure around marks. So it is unfortunate, because students are less focused on the learning. But it’s understandable about why it happens.

Former TDSB chair’s U of T thesis under investigation for plagiarism

Chris Spence, former director of the Toronto District School Board, may lose his doctoral degree from the University of Toronto if administrators conclude he plagiarized in his 1996 Ph.D dissertation.

Spence resigned from the TDSB last week after admitting to plagiarizing parts of an editorial piece for the Toronto Star. Since then, a number of Spence’s articles and his two books have come under heightened scrutiny. Spence’s alleged widespread plagiarism is also under investigation by the Ontario College of Teachers.

The Star reported they found several passages in Spence’s dissertation as well as lengthy sections of his 2008 book The Joys of Teaching Boys that were copied without citation from various sources. In a statement released by Spence Friday afternoon, he said he will be “fully cooperat[ing] with any possible inquiry.”

With files from the Toronto Star.