Be it resolved

Students share their personal goals for 2015 and suggest resolutions for the university 

Be it resolved

For many students, goal-setting and writing resolutions is a staple part of the beginning of a new calendar year and the start of a new semester. As we begin a new chapter, we take the time to look back on the past and develop aspirations for the year to come. We all have things we want to accomplish and changes we hope to see this year, so we asked U of T students to share their resolutions —  from their personal goals to the changes they want to see made in the university.

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I don’t truly believe in lofty New Year’s resolutions, like going to the gym or eating healthier. To be honest, if I made those resolutions, I know I would never meet them, so my resolutions are simple: do well in school, remain relatively healthy, enjoy my time with my friends as much as possible, and eat less Kraft Dinner.

—Emily Scherzinger, fourth-year

My resolutions tend to look the same year after year — eat better, go to the gym — so this year I’m trying something new. My goal is to try and be more balanced: to read a book on my commute instead of answering emails, to try and sleep a little more, and to try and really enjoy my last semester of university. I hope U of T can try to do the same; I think we could all use a little more balance too offset our piles of textbooks in 2015.

—Samantha Relich, fourth-year, Features Editor

My New Year’s resolution for U of T is for the school to encourage frugality among students and provide advice on how to be smart with money. The mental stress from going to a school like U of T is often compounded by the financial stress of living — or even just going to school — in a major urban centre. Many of us will graduate facing a difficult employment climate, and providing solutions that educate students about how to maximize their often limited funds and cut expenses would improve life in and after U of T.

—Jaren Kerr, second-year

After my adjustment to first year last semester, in the new year I’m going to focus on staying positive. I’ve always been hard on myself, but in university, if you get hung up on one problem, you’re never going to improve yourself. It’s more important to learn from what you did wrong and move on with a positive attitude. It can be kind of difficult to keep your confidence up when you’re part of a huge institution, but I’ve found my professors and TAs to be extremely open and welcoming. I hope to see even more of that in 2015.

—Teodora Pasca, first-year

Last semester, for the first time in my time at university, I struggled with just about everything. I didn’t do well in classes, I dropped out of my extracurriculars, and I started finding it hard to go out with friends. I was anxious about my future — about everything, really. For my resolution, I’m going to go talk to a therapist about my anxiety. I’ve been putting it off for too long. I hope anyone else who feels the same way can find the motivation to find help too.

—Alex*, third-year

In 2014, I kept telling myself that I didn’t have enough time to exercise or make myself healthy, home-cooked food as I had in second year. As a result, my physical and mental health has really suffered. Over the break, I started going to yoga three times a week and limiting my processed food intake. My resolution for 2015 is to keep these healthy habits up and to stop using time or stress as excuses.

—Leelan Farhan, third-year

More tea and less coffee. Meet more people and make more friends. To take my camera with me always. To learn how to budget money for fun nights instead of saying “no” to every expensive event. To remember to floss. To try and finish my essays before they’re due and, on the same note: more studying, less Netflix.

—Alexandra Yao,  first-year

*Last name omitted at student’s request.

Share your resolutions with us on Twitter by tagging @TheVarsity.

Food bank usage among students increasing: report

Eight per cent of annual food bank users in Ontario are senior citizens, students

Food bank usage among students increasing: report

This month, nearly 900,000 Canadians will wonder where their next meal will come from. According to the HungerCount 2014 report from Food Banks Canada and the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) 2014 Hunger Report, there has been a 25 per cent increase in food bank usage since 2008, with the most frequent users cited as women over 18, children, Aboriginal people, single parent families, rental tenants, and individuals requiring social assistance.
Among the fastest growing demographics of food bank users are post-secondary students — particularly those living in rural communities.

Estimates reported by the OAFB show that 770,000 Ontarians access food banks annually, eight per cent of which include senior citizens and students.

“Food bank use among postsecondary students in many ways reflects the profound changes that are taking place within Canada’s labour market related to the rise of precarious employment,” says Peggy Sattler, member of provincial parliament for London West and Ontario NDP critic for training, colleges, and universities.

“There are estimates that precarious work now represents as much as one-third of all employment in Canada, leaving many postsecondary graduates without access to the job security, wage security and benefits provided by regular, full-time employment, making them vulnerable to food insecurity and potential reliance on emergency food assistance for many years to come,” Sattler adds.

The HungerCount report also cites the “low benefit levels provided by provincial welfare programs” as being particularly “unkind to people with low levels of education.”

While a person is not considered to be a member of the “working poor” if they are a student, the OAFB report found that over 50 per cent of those classified as the working poor hold a post-secondary education.

FOOD INSECURITY

An individual or family that experiences income-related food insecurity faces barriers that prevent access to nutritious or affordable food. Barriers as a result of low income may include the stigma associated with receiving government assistance, distance or lack of transportation to a food bank facility, inefficient intake procedures, or conflicting hours of service.

Skipping meals or sacrificing other basic necessities in order to feed themselves and their families is a typical course of action for the unemployed or working poor.

“Since the recession, food bank use increased dramatically from 314,000 in 2008 to levels that have not dipped below 370,000 in recent years,” said Amanda King, OAFB manager of membership & communications in a press release, adding, “Unstable employment conditions, unsustainable wages and rising costs on essentials like food, transportation, hydro and gas are forcing a growing number of Ontarians to have to choose between paying their bills or putting food on the table.”

Food banks have also been cropping up at many post-secondary institutions in order to meet growing student demand.
The OAFB lists limited incomes, rising food prices, and lack of affordable housing as reasons for the increasing numbers of students in need of social assistance.

A rapid increase in tuition rates over the past several years is cited as the primary catalyst for food insecurity among post-secondary students.

Tuition in Ontario has increased nearly 40 per cent in the last seven years.

“Ontario students are paying the highest tuition fees in Canada and graduating with huge debt loads, so the first thing the Ontario government should do is to restructure higher education funding in order to reduce tuition fees,” says Sattler, adding: “There is a clear public benefit to having a well-educated population, but the costs of higher education are being borne more and more by individuals in the form of tuition rather than the public in the form of tax dollars.”

POLICY RELIEF

Belinda Bien, policy and communications officer for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, says that helping Ontario students with their costs is part of the government’s plan to make post-secondary education accessible for everyone.

“Our government is dedicated to ensuring that postsecondary education remains accessible and affordable for all Ontarians, which is why Ontario’s Tuition Fee Framework for 2013-14 through 2016-17, limits the overall institutional average tuition fee increase to a maximum of 3%, adjusted for enrolment,” says Bien.

In December, the provincial government acted to increase the amount of financial aid available to post-secondary students and offered a lifeline for student loan defaulters.

Food Banks Canada, an organization of Canadian food banks, criticizes the federal, provincial, and municipal governments for not doing enough to prevent Canadians from falling into a poverty trap.

“With rising rental prices, tuition fees, food prices, and a limited income, it is no wonder that students have to make compromises when it comes to food in order to have a place to live,” the Hunger Report says.

The Hunger Report claims that modern social policy is based on the assumption that the more the government gives, the more people will take.

“Every dollar spent to improve income security for people on social assistance is invested back into the economy in the form of increased consumer spending. People on social assistance don’t sit on the income they receive, they pump it right back into the economy,” says Sattler.

The U of T Food and Clothing Bank provides resources to students in need.

Ontario announces financial aid changes

Province to increase financial aid available, help loan defaulters

Ontario announces financial aid changes

Just over two months after their mandate letter was publically released, the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, under minister Reza Moridi, has taken what they see as a major step in making post-secondary education more affordable.

On December 8, the provincial government moved to increase the annual amount of financial aid available and offered help for student loan defaulters who want to bring the Ontario portions of their loans back into good standing. The moves are already garnering both praise and criticism from student leaders.

Under the new policy, the amounts of aid available to students will be indexed to inflation annually. For the 2015–2016 academic year, single students will be eligible for up to $155 in aid per week, while those who are married or have dependent children will be eligible for up to $355 per week — both $5 more than at present.

This initial $5 increase and indexing, the ministry believes, will throw a lifeline to some of the 64,000 Ontario students whose needs surpass what the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) currently offers.

A similar policy will be enacted for the Ontario Student Opportunity Grant, which puts a cap on the amount of debt students are required to repay. This threshold, unchanged since 2011, will be indexed to inflation as well.

LOAN REHABILITATION

The Liberals also introduced the Ontario Student Loan Rehabilitation Program for students who defaulted on the provincial portion of their Canada-Ontario loans. Defaulting not only renders one ineligible for further OSAP assistance until loans are back in good standing or repaid in full, but may also make it more difficult for individuals to take out other loans — for example, for a car or a house — in the future.

The program allows them to rehabilitate these loans by demonstrating what the ministry calls “a commitment to repay.”
According to Belinda Hanson, communications advisor for Moridi, the provincial government holds students’ concerns as a top priority.

“Our government remains committed to ensuring Ontario students have access to a high-quality postsecondary education. Ensuring our plan for Ontario’s postsecondary system is transparent is important to our government, which is why it has been posted online,” Hanson says.

STUDENT REACTIONS

Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)-Ontario chairperson Alastair Woods, however, expressed concern, saying that policies such as increasing the amount of student aid do not go far enough to address the root cause of students’ financial woes.

“Increasing the amount of repayable student aid available simply piles more onto students’ already massive debt loads. We would have preferred cost-of-living increases to non-repayable forms of financial assistance,” he says.
While Woods agrees that the debt rehabilitation policy is a step in the right direction, he adds that he sees room for improvement.

“The government must make bolder efforts to address Ontario’s student debt crisis, and this means finding ways to increase non-repayable assistance, ease existing debt burdens and of course, decrease tuition fees to undercut reliance on loans as a means to finance one’s education,” he says.

The CFS has a history of nationwide advocacy against tuition increases.

However, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), another major student organization, took a more positive view.

OUSA president Jen Carter said that it is only sensible for the amounts of available aid to reflect the rising cost of education.

“Providing loan and grant maximums that accurately reflect rises in the consumer price index will provide more stability for students who are most in need of financial aid,” she said in a press release.

Carter also expressed support for the Ontario Student Loan Rehabilitation Program.

“We are pleased that Ontario has joined the other provinces in offering a debt rehabilitation program for students, which is especially helpful for students who are returning to school after being in the workforce, providing a clearer path into higher education,” she says.

According to a survey published by the OUSA, three out of every five of Ontario students who applied for private aid did so because government assistance did not cover all their costs.

Furthermore, initiatives like the Tuition Tax Credit may also be less effective than intended, with the same survey claiming that only a third of students will earn enough money for it to be of any use.

Both figures seem to suggest that Ontario’s financial aid status quo was in need of improvement.

POST-SECONDARY FUNDING

Going much further than anything proposed by the provincial administration, study at most of France’s public universities is almost entirely taxpayer-funded. By October 2014, every state in Germany had done away with tuition fees altogether — a move praised by CFS national chairperson Jessica McCormick.

But, for any criticisms that arise from this policy, Hanson says the government is confident things are moving in the right direction.

“Over the past 10 years the Liberal government has made dramatic improvements to Ontario’s postsecondary education system… We have provided strong supports for students and worked to eliminate student debt… we’ve created a world-class system that offers students the opportunity to pursue their passions and learn the skills they need to compete in the global knowledge-based economy,” Hanson says.

St. Mike’s faculty, librarians vote yes to potential strike

Strike will be held if UTFA representatives deem it necessary

St. Mike’s faculty, librarians vote yes to potential strike

Ongoing labour strife between University of Toronto administration and various campus unions continue to be a prominent feature of the 2014–2015 academic year.

On December 9, the faculty and librarians of the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) voted unanimously to authorize a strike, if their representatives on the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) deem it necessary.

The UTFA has been in negotiations with university administration over a new agreement on employment conditions since last June. While neither party was able to provide specific details to The Varsity about what is being negotiated, a December 17 UTFA press release said that unresolved issues include “job security for faculty, workplace safety, and a fair and equitable monetary settlement.”

The vote does not indicate that a strike will necessarily take place, although it empowers UTFA leadership to call one. “Our team is committed to working towards reaching a deal,” says Michael Attridge, associate professor and chief negotiator for the UTFA-USMC. “We hope to resolve our differences without a strike. However, the bargaining team has a mandate and our members are a hundred per cent behind the team,” he adds.

As of press time, university representatives were unable to respond to questions from The Varsity.

When asked why students should care about the specific concerns of USMC faculty and librarians, Attridge stresses the importance of job security to academic freedom. “If proper job security is lacking, faculty are less free to engage in critical inquiry, which in turn diminishes the quality of student education,” he says.

Attridge says that such freedom is necessary if the university is to serve human knowledge and the common good. “At the heart of the university is academic freedom, which permits faculty to teach, research and publish, and carry out service work without fear of reprisal from the university, the state or any other source,” he adds.

The university administration has faced labour issues on numerous occasions throughout the 2014–2015 academic year.
In September, university administration and the United Steelworkers Local 1998, which represents some 7,000 workers at U of T, went to the eleventh hour in negotiations before coming to a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.

In November, Units 1 and 5 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3902, which represents approximately 8,000 TAs and academic employees at U of T, voted in favour of giving their leadership a strike mandate.
No labour action has yet taken place, and negotiations are ongoing.

The UTFA and university administration are currently negotiating through provincial conciliation. The conciliation officer is a mediator appointed by the Ontario Ministry of Labour to confer with both union and employer to help them reach an agreement.

Though the officer is not empowered to make binding decisions, conciliation meetings are a legal requirement before any strike or lockout can take place.

Attridge says it is important to note that the union and the administration are still talking to each other in hopes of reaching a deal that works for both parties. “We will be back at the table on January 7 and the union-side will continue to work towards a settlement,” he adds.

UTSU president Yolen Bollo-Kamara discusses past accomplishments, future goals

Bollo-Kamara emphasizes importance of Student Commons, Drop Fees campaign, board reform

UTSU president Yolen Bollo-Kamara discusses past accomplishments, future goals

Discussions of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) board structure reform dominated campus politics at the tail end of 2014, culminating in a dramatic defeat of the proposal at the union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Before the meeting, this year’s UTSU executive worked on numerous events, including Orientation Week, disOrientation, and Xpression Against Oppression. The UTSU also expanded its Blue Crew initiative, which engaged hundreds of students, and implemented a breakfast program at the Multi-Faith Centre. The executive also recently faced the resignation of vice-president, university affairs Pierre Harfouche.

The Varsity spoke with Yolen Bollo-Kamara, UTSU president, to look back on the year that was and to discuss the semester to come.

TV: Tell me about the Student Commons project. What should happen if and when Governing Council approves it?

YB-K: The Student Commons agreement was negotiated over several years. There was a University Project Planning Committee that put it together. That included student societies, divisional leaders, members of the administration, as well as representatives from the UTSU. This was a couple of years before my time. We know that students at large want to see this happening. So what we’re looking for is for Governing Council, in the final step, to pass the project. It will most likely take at least a year to receive proposals and to actually begin construction so that the building can open as soon as possible.

TV: Are you optimistic that Governing Council will pass the project?

YB-K: I am optimistic. From speaking with governors, I do think that the majority of them do want to see this pass. There are over 300 clubs recognized by the UTSU, and there are thousands of students on campus who are really passionate about this and want to have the same type of space afforded to them on the St. George campus as students have in Mississauga, in Scarborough, and almost every other university or college campus in the country. So I think that they’d like to see that happen.

TV: You mentioned the Drop Fees campaign and plans for a day of action. What would these initiatives involve?

YB-K: We’ve been discussing [the Drop Fees campaign] for some time as an executive and we really wanted to bring that back this year to make sure that students across campus, across U of T, are talking about and getting involved with this ongoing campaign to make university more accessible and affordable. The day of action would involve some sort of rally that would be happening in second semester. The date has been set for April 1, I believe. So the idea would be to spend most of second semester doing as much outreach as possible and getting lots of students involved and getting their peers to come out and really put pressure on the university and the provincial government to show that students really care and that we’re frustrated by the recent tuition fee increases. The other thing we want to focus on is the U of T context in particular because we have ongoing issues like ancillary fees that are really high. Then there is the issue of flat fees. Again, there have been some changes but we’d really like to get rid of flat fees altogether. The aim is to draw attention to the broader issue of rising tuition fees — particularly for international students and students in professional programs.

TV: Another campaign you mentioned was the implementation of a Fall Reading Week. How is that progressing?

YB-K: We have been working on this. We’ve put forward some of our thoughts to the vice-provost, students [Jill Matus] and she’s committed to bringing that forward to the council. So we’re looking forward to a response from her in early second semester. I think, ideally, what we’d like to see from our discussions with the ASSU [Arts & Science Students’ Union] is some sort of committee that would work across all divisions so we can come up with a solution that works for everyone.

TV: What are your goals for constructing a new board proposal?

YB-K: The goal is, for me, to make sure that all perspectives are heard and hopefully before the end of my time we’ll have a proposal that the majority of students will support and we’ll pass it at an AGM. I didn’t put forward the last proposal but I did come to support it. I think that a lot of different groups agree that our current structure is flawed. I think that we should all be trying to come up with creative solutions. At the AGM, the majority of students did support the structure, but not a supermajority. I think it’s really important that two-thirds of students support whatever structure gets passed; that’s part of the democratic process. There were some groups that never responded to my attempts to set up consultation meetings, but I’m seeing them now more open to meeting and to helping out with this new collaboration.

TV: What would your ideal board structure look like?

YB-K: My ideal proposal would be something that the majority of students support, but I think it has to be something that provides a diversity of opportunities for students to get involved.

TV: One of the first things you’ll have to do in the coming weeks is fill the position of vice-president, university affairs on the UTSU Executive Committee. How will that process work?

Y-BK: There is an application process that will continue until January 10. After that, the Hiring Committee will be struck from the Executive Committee and it will choose at least two candidates to be sent to the board. These candidates will do a presentation to the board and there the vice-president, university affairs will be chosen.

TV: Who are the members of the Hiring Committee?

YB-K: We haven’t decided that yet, and I don’t think it stipulates in our by-laws, so it would just be members of the Executive Committee.

TV: What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge for you this semester?

YB-K: There are a few things. Figuring out a way that we — that’s all student leaders, club leaders, college and faculty leaders, student society representatives, and students at large — can work together more efficiently to ensure that projects like the Student Commons aren’t continually put on hold or put on the backburner and that we’re finding ways to work together to act in the best interests of our membership. I think that we do have similar goals in that we are trying to do what’s best for our members and so I’m optimistic that we can rise above the rhetoric, so to speak. If we could give each other the benefit of the doubt as much as possible, I think that we could work together more effectively and accomplish even more for the students of U of T. I’m looking forward to a great semester, and I’m hoping that I can work with students across campus to make this university a better place in my last four months as president.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Student faces two charges in relation to hacking incident

Steven Enamakel allegedly hacked into servers operated by the Department of Computer Science

Student faces two charges in relation to hacking incident

Toronto Police have pressed charges against Steven Enamakel, a third-year international student in computer science, for the alleged hacking of machines provided by the Computing Disciplines Facility (CDF). The CDF is a computing support service owned by the University of Toronto and operated by the Department of Computer Science for certain courses in computer science and electrical and computer engineering.

Students enrolled in these courses receive an account from which they access coursework and log in to computers for lab sessions.

The servers run by the CDF went down on November 14. At the time, the Department of Computer Science did not elaborate on the reason behind the downtime; rumours circulated that servers had been breached, but there was no confirmation by official sources.

In an email last month, students with personal information on CDF servers were notified by Sven Dickinson, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, that servers had been breached and that the university had identified the person responsible. The email confirmed that recipients’ CDF username, UTORid, student number, and date of birth had been copied, and that the police had been notified.

Toronto Police has confirmed that an investigation is currently underway. They have also confirmed that Enamakel has been charged with unauthorized use of a computer and mischief of data.

Enamakel was suspended from the university for allegedly accessing other CDF accounts. It is not clear how he managed to gain access.

The university declined comment due to the ongoing nature of the police investigation. Enamakel also declined comment.

James*, a friend of Enamakel’s, describes him as “very smart and helpful.” James explains that Enamakel already possessed a deep knowledge of computers before he enrolled in university. “You know those guys who did C programming in high school and [were] way ahead of everybody else? That was Steven,” he says.

James claims that Enamakel managed to gain restricted access to CDF servers through a vulnerability in the system during his first week in university and that he had reported this particular vulnerability to the administration.

According to James, Enamakel would spend much of his spare time following computer security conferences and papers online. “He used to have all these projects,” says James, referring to pet projects in computer security that Enamakel had done.

“Honestly, I think it was just curiosity, just to see if he could [do it],” James says when asked what reason Enamakel would have for hacking into the CDF.

James was unsure how Enamakel allegedly hacked into the CDF servers. He says that he had met with Enamakel a few days after the CDF servers went down and that Enamakel seemed “perfectly normal” at the time.

Both of the charges faced by Enamakel fall under the Criminal Code and are indictable offences liable to a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment.

Shortly after his academic suspension, Enamakel left the country for Kuwait, where his family resides.

*Name changed at student’s request.

Correction (January 8, 2015, 12:00 PM): A previous version of this article stated that the University of Toronto was the complainant. The Varsity is not now able to verify this.

2014 in news

The Varsity presents a look at our top stories from the past year

2014 in news

“Sweeping changes to flat fees announced”

January 6

After four years of lobbying and controversy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Brad Duguid announced plans to phase out flat fees — the policy of charging full tuition to students who take as little as three courses. The guidelines, designed to save students thousands of dollars, also regulated the types of late and ancillary fees charged, eliminated interest fees incurred because of the Ontario Student Assistance Program’s (OSAP) distribution schedule, and mandated two tuition payment periods.

“Studying under the influence”

January 13

Last winter, two Varsity reporters uncovered the “unspoken reality” of the prevalence of study drugs on campus. Students reported that psychoactive stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, such as Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Concerta, were easily accessible on campus at a cost. Some students reported use of such drugs as necessary in order to cope with heavy workloads and diminishing focus. The possession and sale of study drugs is illegal in Canada.

“UTSU condemned for withdrawing from student societies summit”

March 9

Last March, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) ceased participation in the Student Societies Summit, a move which drew criticism for the UTSU’s alleged lack of commitment to democratic processes. The summit was a project launched in August 2013 by then-provost Cheryl Misak in an attempt to resolve disputes between some divisional societies and the UTSU.

Agnes So, then-UTSU vice-president, university affairs, made the announcement in the middle of a heated UTSU election, citing the exit of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union and a widely criticized survey of 1,200 students. Several of the UTSU’s board directors at the time, including Ben Coleman, who currently sits on the university’s Governing Council, and Pierre Harfouche, who recently resigned as UTSU vice-president, university affairs, criticized the withdrawal.

“International tuition could rise another 50 per cent over next five years”

March 10

Scott Mabury, the University of Toronto’s vice-president, university operations, unveiled a plan to sharply raise international tuition fees at a meeting of the Governing Council’s Business Board on March 3. Tuition fees for incoming international students were set to increase by 9.2 per cent the following year, with fees for existing international students set to increase by five per cent.

“[W]hen we increase international tuition fees, applications go up, and the take-up rate goes up,” Mabury said at the time. The provincial government recently set a target of 57,000 international students in Ontario by 2015.

“Split result in close UTSU election”

March 17

Pierre Harfouche of Team Unite was the first candidate in eight years to win a University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) executive race while not a member of a slate with incumbent executives. Harfouche was elected as vice-president, university affairs but recently resigned. Members of U of T Voice filled the other four positions. Yolen Bollo-Kamara was elected UTSU president, along with Cameron Wathey as vice-president, internal and services; Grayce Slobodian as vice-president, external; and Najiba Ali Sardar as vice-president, equity.

Two executive races — external and university affairs — triggered an automatic recount, as well as one directorial race.

“Administration asked to intervene over alleged ‘egregious violations’ in UTSU election”

April 28

In the wake of the release of the final report of the Student Societies Summit to provost Cheryl Regehr, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) drew fire last spring for alleged violations in elections for the 2014­­­–2015 year. Vipulan Vigneswaran, campaign manager for the Team Unite slate, wrote to Regehr following the election to request administrative intervention into what he called unfair practices by the chief returning officer (CRO), Alex Flor. Vigneswaran cited the presence of withdrawn candidate Luis Moreno’s name on the ballot as a main concern.

Numerous other complaints came in even after the UTSU board ratified the election results. Accusations of errors by the CRO also included extending voting hours despite UTSU bylaws and erecting an extra voting location at UTM.

“UTSU board passes major restructuring plan”

May 11

In April 2014, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) provoked impassioned responses from many student groups when its board passed a controversial motion to restructure the UTSU Board of Directors. The motion proposed the replacement of college representatives on the board with 10 constituency directors representing international students, LGBTQ students, women, racialized students, indigenous students, mature students, students with disabilities, commuters, athletics, and first-year students.

Vocal opposition groups included EngSoc and Trinity College. Benjamin Crase, then-co-head of Trinity College, said the motion “[made] little sense and [was] very worrisome,” while UTSU past-president Munib Sajjad said that giving a voice to these constituencies would be “revolutionary.” In October, LGBTOUT, a student group, conditionally endorsed the proposed structure change.

“Back to the drawing board”

November 3

After many months of controversy, the proposed changes to the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Board of Directors structure were defeated by a thin margin at the union’s Annual General Meeting. The failure to pass the proposed changes to the board structure drew mixed reactions, with many students at the meeting cheering and others appearing disappointed. The UTSU now has less than one year to pass a new board structure.

“UTSU vice-president, university affairs Pierre Harfouche resigns”

November 26

UTSU vice-president, university affairs Pierre Harfouche resigned from his position in an email sent to members of the UTSU Board of Directors on November 26.

“For a few months now, I have continued to feel that I, in my capacity as [vice-president, university affairs], cannot accomplish the goals I initially set out to complete when I ran for the position,” Harfouche wrote in the email. No less than two applicants will be put to the board for a vote to fill the position.

“GSU Litigation Committee to investigate CFS referendum results”

December 11

After the Chief Returning Officer, Stephen Littley, of the Graduate Students’ Union’s (GSU) recent referendum on defederation from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario deemed the vote invalid due to a failure to reach quorum, GSU members voted to extend its litigation committee to investigate the results of the referendum. Quorum for the vote was 10 per cent of the graduate student population. According to Littley, the referendum fell seven votes short of the total needed to achieve quorum. The Litigation Committee will continue to investigate any fluctuations in the graduate student population for one year.

President Gertler announces leadership changes

New year brings changes, reappointments to senior administration

President Gertler announces leadership changes

University of Toronto president, Meric Gertler, with approval of the university’s Governing Council, has announced his intention to appoint and reappoint five members of the university’s senior administration.

Cheryl Regehr was reappointed vice-president and provost for a five-and-a-half year term. Regehr joined the university’s teaching staff in 1999, eventually serving as dean of the Faculty of Social Work. She previously held positions in the fields of social work, emergency mental health, and law.

Following her term as vice-provost, academic, Regehr succeeded Cheryl Misak as provost. Regehr was initially appointed for one term on September 2, 2013 until February 28, 2015. As provost, Regehr oversees the university’s budget and academic matters and is the university’s second highest ranking official behind the president.

At the time she became provost, Regehr expressed a desire to increase student engagement. “One of the things that I want to continue to work on building with people is enhancing the number of opportunities we have… for students to get out of the university and tackle some of the real problems our society and our societies face,” Regehr told The Varsity in September 2013.

Her first term was rife with challenges, including the controversial Student Societies Summit and the last year’s University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) elections.

David Palmer was reappointed for his role as vice-president, advancement for a five-year term. Palmer served as vice-president, advancement for two terms and has led the university’s Boundless fundraising campaign.
The reappointments of Regehr and Palmer are effective January 1, 2015.

Also effective January 1, 2015 for a three-and-a-half year term, professor Bruce Kidd will be appointed vice-president, University of Toronto and principal, University of Toronto Scarborough. Kidd, the former Hart House warden and dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, was appointed to both positions on an interim basis in February.

Although he held the position of dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health for 19 years, Kidd first entered U of T as a student and member of the track team.

Kidd subsequently became an Olympian and, following his athletic career, returned to U of T as a professor. Kidd was instrumental in the creation of Varsity Stadium and often speaks on the importance of accessibility in sports.

“While drawing enormous benefits from its integral place in Canada’s leading university, UTSC has become a mature, research intensive, educationally innovative campus in its own right,” Kidd told The Varsity in October 2014.

UTSC celebrated its fiftieth anniversary earlier this year.

Effective February 1, 2015, professor Vivek Goel will be appointed U of T’s vice-president, research and innovation for a five-year term. Goel is a former U of T provost and was acting university president before David Naylor.

Judith Wolfson has also been appointed to the new role of vice-president, international, government, and institutional relations for an 18-month term beginning January 1, 2015. Wolfson’s role is slated to enable U of T to develop its international activities, profile, and partnerships, while strengthening its governmental and institutional relationships.