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U of T receives more money from international students than from Ontario government

International student enrolment has skyrocketed in the last decade, now greatest source of revenue for university

U of T receives more money from international students than from Ontario government

Ten years ago, U of T’s international student population was about 10 per cent of total enrolment, and non-citizens were not allowed to serve on Governing Council, the university’s most powerful administrative body. By 2015, the University of Toronto Act had been amended to allow non-citizens to serve on Governing Council, and by 2017 international students accounted for 22 per cent of U of T’s student body.

Today, money from international students makes up 30 per cent — $928.61 million — of the university’s revenue, above the 25 and 24 per cent that provincial grants and domestic tuition provide respectively.

Since 2007, the university’s operating budget has increased by 89 per cent, corresponding with the rapid rise in the international student population. As the university has rapidly expanded in the past decade, international students have become U of T’s only consistently growing source of revenue.

Operating grants versus tuition revenue

Operating grants are the main source of funding provided by the provincial government and are conditional upon institutions following through on government mandates.

Recent examples of these mandates include the Student Choice Initiative and campus free speech policy, under which institutions would face cuts to their operating grants for non-compliance.

Since 2006, provincial operating grants have stagnated, holding steady to inflation in the range of $700 million. However, since the domestic student population has only increased, per student funding by the province is in decline.

In U of T’s Long Range Budget Report, the university points to the Ontario government’s worries about a province-wide decline in the 18–20-year-old population.

The report goes on to say that by 2019–2020, provincial operating grants will only make up 25 per cent of U of T’s revenue — less than the 30 per cent that international students contribute.

China and U of T

Chinese international students made up about 65 per cent of the international undergraduate student population last year. In the shadow of the diplomatic tensions between Canada and China over the arrest of a senior executive from Huawei, credit rating agency Moody’s warned of the devastating financial impact on the university’s cash flow if Chinese students are pulled out of Ontario universities, highlighting their dependence on international students.

The concerns are not unfounded — in August, Saudi Arabia declared it would withdraw all of its international students from Canadian universities, of which there were about 300 at U of T at the time, because of a tweet made by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland condemning the arrest of a Saudi women’s rights activist.

Lynette Ong, Director of the Munk Asian Institute China Initiatives and Associate Professor of Political Science, believes that the likelihood of China pulling its students out of Canada is fairly low.

Ong, in an email to The Varsity, writes that other major destinations for Chinese international students — like Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — are all experiencing tense bilateral relations with the Chinese government, leaving few options for the country even if it were to pull students out of Canadian universities.

However, the recent Scarborough Campus Students’ Union election did see the mobilization of Chinese international students in a petition to remove the President-elect Chemi Lhamo for her support of the Tibetan independence movement. The Chinese embassy denied allegations of involvement, but its statement iterated the embassy’s support for the “patriotic actions of Chinese students.”

International student tuition and tuition cuts

Meanwhile, international tuition has continued to rise for Canadian postsecondary institutions.

When adjusted for inflation, the base domestic Arts & Science tuition at U of T has increased by about $1,000 over 11 years; international students have seen their tuition rise by more than $25,000 — a 127.5 per cent increase — during that time.

In an interview with BBC and then The Varsity shortly after, U of T President Meric Gertler justified the university’s need to raise international tuition in order to match peer institutions, fund initiatives, and offer offices specifically aimed toward international students.

As a consequence of rising tuition costs, Gertler also said that the university saw a rise in the quantity and quality of international applicants to the university, another driver of international enrolment.

The main guideline for domestic fees is the Strategic Mandate Agreement, a three-year mandate signed by both the Ontario government and the university in 2017 that outlines the objectives and enrolment guidelines for the university.

Part of these guidelines includes limiting the amount of domestic students that can be enrolled. However, international student enrolment is mainly decided by individual programs, guided by a five-year international enrolment plan made by Governing Council.

While the university and the province have agreed to decrease domestic enrolment at UTSG by 1,700 spots and maintain current enrolment levels at both UTM and UTSC, international enrolment over the next five years is projected to steadily increase, with an average six per cent increase in international tuition per year.

In the wake of the provincial government’s directive to cut domestic tuition by 10 per cent next year, U of T said that international students will not see a tuition hike, but it may accelerate plans to increase international enrolment.

UTM Vice-President and Principal Ulrich Krull suggested this as part of a mix of solutions to accommodate for the domestic tuition cut.

The 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition followed by a tuition freeze will affect each program differently — if a program has a higher proportion of domestic students, it will lose a larger source of revenue and face steeper cuts.

The Varsity’s analysis of 2017 enrolment numbers estimates that second-entry programs will be the most heavily affected due to the high number of domestic students taken in.

The Arts & Science programs at all three campuses will see a lower percentage of their students receiving the cut; however, just by sheer size, they will face the brunt of the tuition cut — for UTSG, the Faculty of Arts & Science will lose an estimated $20 million off of its $495 million net expense budget for next year.

In an earlier interview with The Varsity, U of T Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr said that the university hopes to “find solutions that minimally impact students, staff and faculty, and programs.”

Ontario government’s Student Choice Initiative apparently suggested by free speech club

Ottawa free speech group suggested option to Premier Ford, Minister Fullerton

Ontario government’s Student Choice Initiative apparently suggested by free speech club

The Ontario government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI), which gives students the option to opt out of certain incidental fees, was apparently suggested to the government by a campus free speech club, the concept having circulated for years within campus conservative communities.

In interviews with The Varsity, the University of Ottawa Students for Free Speech (uOSFS) Vice-President Michele Di Franco confirmed that the group had suggested the policy during a Free Speech Roundtable with the government on August 30, 2018.

Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities (TCU) Merrilee Fullerton attended the Free Speech Roundtable at Queen’s Park. The goal of the discussion was for the government to receive input from campus free speech groups to issue free speech guidance to universities.

Di Franco noted, however, that the “government seemed to be ambivalent about [the opt-out option], (at least when we spoke to them).”

The discussion resulted from a joint effort by the free speech clubs to reach out to the premier’s office, said Di Franco. The day following the hour-and-a-half roundtable, the Ford government adopted a mandatory policy for Ontario universities to implement free-speech policies based on the Chicago principles, a set of guiding principles on free speech adopted by the University of Chicago in 2014.

Di Franco explained that the desire to opt out of certain incidental fees stemmed from the uOSFS’s negative perception of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa. The student union made headlines last year over allegations of fraud that resulted in the university terminating ties with it.

Ministry of TCU comments on the consultation

In a written statement to The Varsity, the Ministry of TCU neither confirmed nor denied that the uOSFS’s recommendation played a role in the formation of the SCI.

“Minister Fullerton heard from many post-secondary students both during and after the election that the lack of choice and transparency in mandatory ancillary student fees was an issue of concern,” wrote TCU spokesperson Ciara Byrne.

“Many students have expressed concern either in person or via correspondence to the Minister regarding the high costs of mandatory fees for services that they do not utilize or want to support.”

The University of Toronto Students in Support of Free Speech wrote to The Varsity that the “Ontario government was very friendly and considerate and they kept an open and welcoming attitude to students’ group and concerns that have aligned with our free speech mission.” However, it declined to provide further comment on the discussion at the August roundtable.

The Varsity was unable to reach the Students for Free Speech York University group, the third student group present at the roundtable.

Opt-out option may also have originated internally from government, say U of T Campus Conservatives

In an interview with The Varsity, Matthew Campbell, President of the University of Toronto Campus Conservatives, said that his organization had not suggested the opt-out option for student union fees to the provincial government.

However, Campbell said that the idea of an opt-out option is not a new idea, as it has been a talking point for the past five to eight years among the “youth conservative activist base.” He added that the Campus Conservatives’ position is in support of the opt-out option, citing it as a move that lets “people say what they want their money going to,” and one that may increase transparency in student union spending.

Campbell also said that “student media probably should be in one of the mandatory fee brackets,” as it has increased the transparency of student union activities, citing The Eyeopener’s recent reporting on potential misspending by the Ryerson Students’ Union.

Editor’s note (February 25, 11:46 pm): Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article implied that multiple campus free speech groups apparently suggested an opt-out policy to the Ontario government — only the University of Ottawa Students for Free Speech club confirmed that it had done so.

Faculty of Arts & Science looking to implement mandatory small class requirement

Faculty in beginnings of proposal process, hopes to expand small class offerings

Faculty of Arts & Science looking to implement mandatory small class requirement

The Faculty of Arts & Science is proposing to implement a mandatory small class requirement for incoming first-year students, which would not take effect in the coming academic year but would encourage the faculty to build its small class offerings. The proposal comes amid increasing enrolment and the need for diverse course offerings throughout each department.

Students would be required to enrol in a half or full-year seminar in their first year of study. “We are considering making it a requirement that a small foundational seminar be taken by all students in their first year because we believe the small class experience is an ideal environment to help students transition to university studies, make early connections with peers and professors and start to develop the technical research and communication skills to support them through their degree and beyond,” said Sean Bettam, Communications & Media Relations Specialist for the faculty, in an email to The Varsity.

The faculty currently has several small-class offerings limited to first-year students, including the First-Year Foundation (FYF) One programs, which require external applications, and FYF Seminars capped at 30 students.

Both academically rigorous and competitive, the College One programs offer a variety of curated courses to arts and science students.

First-year seminars focus on timely topics, but do not count toward program requirements.

While these offerings are highly encouraged, students are not required to enrol in a small class.

However, other programs without existing small classes are restructuring in order to meet the demands of the requirement.

Charlie Keil, Principal at Innis College, spoke to The Varsity about the effects that the proposed changes would bring to Innis’ current offerings, commenting on the current challenges faced by these courses and the demands they would bring to the small sizes overall.

“The problem [with the 199 courses] was that because [students] didn’t have to take them, what would often happen is that students would end up dropping them not because they didn’t like them, but because they either wouldn’t fit in their schedule or the courses that they needed to take to get into a POSt would conflict,” said Keil.

New College’s One program will drop the external application in order to encourage engagement and overall make the experience much easier for students.

When asked about such a change, Keil said that “the idea… in eliminating application processes… was just to make [the Ones] that much easier when students make their choices in terms of the different kinds of small-class learning experiences, to try to just make it as streamlined as possible for students to try to reduce as many impediments.”

Other colleges share the same sentiments as Keil, both drawing on the advantages of smaller class sizes for incoming students and reflecting on the challenges of fitting in as many undergraduate students while offering a small class experience.

“Victoria College has long believed that small-class experiences bring tangible benefits. Together with the FYF initiative, we are working to expand the disciplinary diversity of Vic One Hundred offerings,” reads a statement to The Varsity from Victoria College’s Office of the Principal.

First-year students at Victoria College are already required to take a small class as part of their degree component. The application for the Vic One programs remains unchanged.

New College, on the other hand, is focusing on restructuring its courses in order to meet the larger incoming undergraduate population.

“At New One, we have updated all our courses — changing titles, updating their descriptions to better match content — and we will offer more courses next year. We stay committed to limiting our class sizes to 25 students and to offering interdisciplinary courses,” said Alexandra Guerson, Coordinator of the New One program.

“Since New College is the largest undergraduate college at the university, it would be challenging to accommodate every first-year New College student with the existing One programs across campus. We currently have over 1,000 first-year students and we are actively researching models for expanding our offerings without compromising the quality of the program.”

If approved, updated course offerings will be uploaded to the 2019–2020 academic calendar at the end of April. The policy is still in the consultation stages, but, if the faculty chooses to move forward with it, the new framework would eventually have to be approved by the Arts & Science Council.

Editor’s Note (February 25, 10:30 am): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the changes would be implemented in the upcoming academic year. In fact, the faculty will be beginning to build its small course offerings next school year. The Varsity regrets the error. 

Supreme Court ruling preserves individual privacy rights in public spaces

Former high school teacher found guilty of voyeurism for photographing students as a result

Supreme Court ruling preserves individual privacy rights in public spaces

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on February 14 that individuals are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy in public spaces. This decision comes from the case of Ryan Jarvis, a former Ontario high school teacher, whom the Supreme Court found guilty of voyeurism after he secretly videotaped students.

The court’s ruling set the precedent that one’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” can no longer be purely based on one’s location, but instead as a “totality of circumstances” that vary on a case-by-case basis.

In other words, Canada’s highest court ruled clearly that taking photos with sexual intent and without consent in public spaces — which could ostensibly include University of Toronto libraries and residence buildings — can be a criminal act, and individuals in these spaces may be entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s intervention

Jarvis was charged with voyeurism for using a camera concealed in a pen to secretly videotape the cleavage of female students and a female teacher in a high school in 2010–2011.

He was acquitted of the charges by a lower court, and this decision was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal. However, a single dissenting judge on the appeal court created the opportunity for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) to bring the case to the Supreme Court.

The CCLA’s mission is to protect the civil liberties of individuals in Canada.

Explaining why the CCLA stepped in, Dr. Brenda McPhail, Director of the CCLA’s Privacy, Technology, and Surveillance Project, wrote to The Varsity that it “intervenes in cases to stand up for rights and freedoms, and in the Jarvis case, there was a clear need to stand up for privacy rights.”

The lower courts acquitted Jarvis, explained McPhail, because “part of the voyeurism offence requires it to happen in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy.” While the trial judge found that Jarvis had violated students’ privacy, he was not convinced that the videos were filmed with sexual intent. But the Court of Appeal later ruled that, since there were security cameras in the school, there was no reasonable expectation of privacy for the students and the teacher.

The CCLA “felt strongly that this was wrong,” continued McPhail. It held the belief that it would be “deeply problematic to say that because someone might be legally using a security camera, their decision to do so wipes out the privacy rights of everyone in the vicinity.”

Why the courts arrived at different decisions

U of T Faculty of Law Associate Professor Vincent Chiao, who specializes in criminal law and justice, explained that the lower courts arrived at a different decision than the Supreme Court because they have different functions.

“There’s a distinction between two types of questions that courts will decide.”

The first is a “question of fact,” explained Chiao, while the second is a “question of law.” As its name suggests, the first establishes the facts, such as, “Where were you at 3:00 pm on Tuesday?” The second determines the courts’ interpretations of the law.

In this case, the question of law was, “What is a reasonable expectation of privacy?” said Chiao. The lowest court is concerned with questions of fact, but the Supreme Court is concerned with the question of law.

Interpreting the Supreme Court’s view of the case that led to its unanimous decision, Chiao said that the court viewed the privacy of a school as “public for some purposes, but private for other purposes.”

“So it’s public in the sense that they might expect to be seen by other students or teachers, but private in that they would not expect to be recorded for purposes of sexual gratification. I’m going to think that’s the nature of the disagreement between the two courts.”

Takeaways of the case for university students

A main takeaway for university students, said Chiao, is the idea that legal definitions of common terminology often differ from everyday usage.

Chiao noted that while Jarvis’ actions may be creepy and reprehensible, the Court of Appeal may not have found them relevant to privacy rights.

Jarvis wasn’t “sneaking into the girls’ changing room” or a private area in the school; he was “in public spaces interacting with the students in a way that he normally would have,” except for the voyeuristic recording.

While immoral, Chiao noted that it’s not really a matter of privacy in the everyday use of the term.

That said, Chiao noted, “It seems like a pretty sensible outcome on the Supreme Court’s view.” If the Supreme Court acquitted Jarvis, it would affirm that teachers may be allowed to secretly take pictures of students for sexual gratification. The court’s definition of privacy ensured this would not be the case.

“Privacy is something we need and deserve, it is a human right,” wrote McPhail on the case. “Students need to be in schools to get an education, and [schools are] places we as a society say our young people need to be safe.”

UTSU holds event on impact of anti-Black racism on mental health

Discussions centred around intersectionality, barriers in academia

UTSU holds event on impact of anti-Black racism on mental health

The University of Toronto Students’ Union held an event titled “Anti-Black Racism and Mental Health” on February 15 as part of its annual eXpression Against Oppression series, coinciding with Black History Month. Closing out a week of events directed at challenging oppression and highlighting the experiences of marginalized people, the event addressed the negative impacts of anti-Black racism and discrimination on mental health.

Rania El Mugammar, a Sudanese-Canadian writer and anti-oppression and liberation educator, hosted and led the discussion.

When asked about why it is important to address the issue of mental health and anti-Black racism in a conversation with The Varsity before the event, Mugammar replied that the dehumanizing effects of racism and the resulting hypervigilance negatively impacts mental health.

“If [it’s] not part of our understanding of [the] mental health crisis and mental health issues then how can we actually address it in a way that helps people find coping mechanisms that work, find treatment plans that work, and find sustainable ways to support themselves and their communities, and also have language to talk about it?”

Mugammar especially stressed the importance of having the language to talk about mental health in her culture.

“I remember when I was younger and all the Black women around me would say, ‘Depression is for white girls,’” Mugammar said.

“We don’t have the luxury of falling apart, right? So it’s not something that’s allowed for us. So we don’t have a language around it and I think it’s really important that we do.”

Addressing this absence through an anti-oppression framework during the event, she discussed the theory of intersectionality, how it concerns Black communities, and why it’s so important to incorporate intersectionality into mental health interventions and conversations.

According to Mugammar, approaches that do not have an intersectional lens end up saying that being a “woman is a white, cis, able-bodied experience. Everyone else is a deviation.”

Due to this belief, she talked at length about how the study of psychology is “rooted in the world of wealthy white men,” and why it’s important to break that barrier and include more people from Black communities when designing mental health supports for them.

When asked by a student how her work aids and supports important academic research in psychology, Mugammar replied that her work does not support the academic community.

Instead, she framed most of her work as “pedestalling and giving [a] platform to community-based interventions and grassroot interventions and culturally relevant interventions that don’t get access to academic spaces.”

She expressed her disdain and distrust of academia by pointing out that the very “fathers” of psychology and mental health studies are from “a very particular social location,” adding that the “roots of this tree are rotten.”

Instead, she said that she needs to know the social location from which the researcher speaks: “who the researcher is, what their purpose is, etc.”

Mugammar also addressed the issue of intergenerational trauma in Black communities as the last topic of the night.

According to Mugammar, one cannot talk about mental health in Black communities without addressing intergenerational trauma, because intergenerational trauma can seriously impact mental health.

“Trauma fucks with you,” she said.

Disorder in Computer Science Student Union amid resignations, dissolution of General Council

Unaffiliated system of “committees” also operating parallel to course union

Disorder in Computer Science Student Union amid resignations, dissolution of General Council

In recent months, the Computer Science Student Union (CSSU) has been affected by multiple executive resignations, the dissolution of its General Council due to an alleged lack of involvement and communication, and the creation of an unregulated, loosely-organized system of “committees” operating parallel to the course union.

The CSSU is a course union that represents over 1,200 students who are taking a Computer Science (CS) course or are enrolled in the CS programs of study. Its executives are elected each spring for the next academic year.


The first resignation to hit the union came on November 16, when CS student Ignas Panero Armoska left his role as the Director of Social Events.

“I worked really hard on frosh over the summer and then a bunch of social events, but it actually turned out that I was also doing a lot of infrastructure-related tasks that were not under my purview at all,” he said in an interview with The Varsity.

Panero Armoska noted that these tasks included onboarding people to manage office-related assignments and helping run academic events.

Panero Armoska’s departure was followed by that of President David Ansermino, who left his position effective December 21.

Explaining his resignation, Ansermino said that he had to leave since he is working full-time at a startup. “We’ve certainly got a lot on our plates right now, and I’m kind of an integral part of that… Trying to manage my responsibilities became difficult.”

Ansermino was replaced by Vice-President Calvin Luo, who in turn hired Panero Armoska as the Acting Vice-President in order “to provide a more stable leadership team,” given the departures. The Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU), which oversees course unions such as the CSSU, suggested that the CSSU hold a by-election to replace Ansermino or have Luo take over in an interim capacity.

Treasurer Taylor Stinson also departed in December, according to a statement from Luo.

“[Stinson] and I agreed that at this moment, the Executive Council of the CSSU should be filled with people involved with the community and dedicated to improving it,” Luo wrote.

Stinson was replaced by Borna Salman, the former CSSU community store manager. Stinson could not be reached for comment.

Dissolution of the CSSU General Council

In the same statement announcing Ansermino’s resignation, Luo said that the course union was dissolving its General Council and seeking applications for new members to serve. According to Panero Armoska, members of the council were generally inactive.

Members of the council are appointed by the CSSU executive in the fall and are comprised of people “who want to take an active role in helping make decisions for the CSSU and organizing CSSU initiatives,” according to Panero Armoska.

The reasoning behind the dissolution was to have a smaller team that facilitated better communication.

Following the dissolution of the old council, the current executive interviewed new applicants and hired six people, including some who were re-hired from the previous council.

According to ASSU President Haseeb Hassaan, ASSU did not know about the dissolution of the council until reached by The Varsity in early February.

Since then, ASSU has spoken with the CSSU and was “informed that the Council was not active,” wrote Hassaan. He added, “This council is appointed/hired by the Executive as per their Constitution so it is up to them to make that decision.”

A system of “committees”

Aside from the wave of resignations and the dissolution of General Council, the CSSU has also been affected by the appearance of a system of loosely-organized “committees.” Unaffiliated with the union, they were started independently by CS student Aniket Sengupta-Kali early last semester and “formally launched” in January.

The committees are meant to be “a very simple way of getting involved” with the community because there hasn’t historically been a way to do that, said Sengupta-Kali.

“It’s kind of a loose organization,” he said. “We’re not trying to formalize too too much because we’re still trying to work things out with the CSSU, because most of the people involved do want this to be officialized as part of the union.”

He added, “It’s just that it has to be on terms that everyone finds reasonable and that will facilitate more involvement in the future.”

The committees are organized through Slack, a professional messaging platform, and cover topics such as coding events, mental health, and socials.

Despite not formally being part of the CSSU and operating in parallel to it, Panero Armoska said the committees organized by Sengupta-Kali were trying to advertise at U of T Hacks, an annual hackathon where Panero Armoska was serving as an executive.

He also said that the committees “were communicating with the department” on behalf of the CSSU, despite not being an official representative of the CSSU.

“We’re not opposed to them — like 100 per cent student involvement is great and in fact we’re going to be working on making more opportunities available within the CSSU,” Panero Armoska remarked. “But… we literally are trying to get the CSSU more organized and have a better structure and stability right now and we can’t endorse events that we literally did not organize or are at or anything like that because it can really poorly reflect on us.”

According to him, the CSSU has met with representatives of the committees, including Sengupta-Kali.

However, Sengupta-Kali denied claims that the committees were passing themselves off as representatives of the CSSU.

“Constantly, we’ve been trying to assert that no, we’re not trying to be a rival CSSU or usurp the CSSU,” he said, “but we do want to see CSSU change a bit in terms of how it accepts community involvement and how can get involved.”

Despite these leadership shuffles, Panero Armoska noted that the CSSU is continuing to operate and hold events.

UTM market showcases Black business owners, entrepreneurs

The Buy Black market, organized by student groups, wraps up February 28

UTM market showcases Black business owners, entrepreneurs

Black business owners and entrepreneurs are showcasing their work this month at the Buy Black market at UTM, a part of ongoing Black History Month celebrations run by student groups.

The Buy Black market is the only recurring event in Black History Month programming at UTM, running every Thursday except during reading week. The final Buy Black market will be on February 28.

The month-long celebrations aim to empower Black members of the UTM community. Events are co-hosted by the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), the UTM Black Students’ Collective, the Eastern African Student Association, the UTM African Student’s Association, and the Caribbean Connections UTM student group.

“The Buy Black market was an exceptional time to showcase black identified vendors. We wanted to create a space where business owners had the ability to share their passions and culture with the UTM community,” wrote UTMSU Vice-President Equity Leena Arbaji in an email to The Varsity.

Though the event is open to UTM student vendors, Arbaji said that the organizers “didn’t find any students this time around.” Instead, they contacted vendors via Black Owned Unity, an enterprise that connects “the Black community around the goal of economic development.”

The market is located in the Communication, Culture & Technology (CCT) Building. According to Arabji, this location was a strategic choice, writing that the organizers “purposely placed the market in a building with heavy traffic knowing 100’s of students each hour would interact with the vendors.” Due to its CCT Building location, food vendors are not permitted at the events. Instead, a variety of garment and cosmetics businesses are featured.

One of these business is Kallis Oils, a skincare company that primarily sells body oils. Its founder, Alazar Kafle, told The Varsity that his brand was “really well received. We had a lot of exposure, and people were really interested in our ingredients as well.” He later added that he is “super blessed to have had the chance to promote my initiative about responsible and organic skincare.”

Black History Month celebrations at UTM are wrapping up this week, with a Self-Care & Games Night event on February 25 and a closing ceremony on February 27.

U of T planning to establish new medical research fund

Daniel Drucker proposes $6 million endowment in anticipation of centenary of insulin discovery

U of T planning to establish new medical research fund

Plans are underway to establish a $6 million endowment fund to support medical research conducted by U of T faculty members. The endowment, slated to be named the Drucker Family Innovation Fund, was proposed by U of T Professor of Medicine Daniel Drucker and is planned as part of the university’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin.

The Drucker Family Innovation Fund will be used to finance an annual grant competition focused on medical research. Those eligible to compete will be U of T faculty members in the Department of Medicine — stationed at either Mount Sinai Hospital or the University Health Network (UHN) — along with all faculty affiliated with the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre. Individual grants as high as $50,000 will be awarded.

As part of the proposal, Drucker has pledged to contribute $2 million, contingent on U of T and the UHN each gifting the same amount. The money invested by all three parties will coalesce into the $6 million endowment fund.

The UHN is a Toronto-based health care and medical research organization affiliated with the university. In addition to housing research facilities occupied by U of T faculty members, its constituent hospitals provide training for medical students and postdoctoral fellows. These researchers would be among the potential beneficiaries of the prospective fund. Due to an existing patent license agreement, the UHN has already benefited monetarily from Drucker’s research.

According to Vivek Goel, Vice-President Research & Innovation, U of T will derive its $2 million from revenue generated by Drucker’s discoveries. Like all U of T researchers, Drucker owes the university a certain percentage of earnings on inventions made using U of T resources; this arrangement is outlined in the university’s Inventions Policy. Thanks to the importance of his work, Drucker’s research has already generated $7.4 million for the university.

U of T’s share of inventions revenue, from inventions that generate over $500,000 in cumulative net revenue, is normally funnelled into the Connaught Fund, which distributes the money to faculty members through various research awards. However, the Inventions Policy allows the Vice-President Research & Innovation to invest this money elsewhere in exceptional cases. “The combination of the generous donation from Prof. Drucker, the level of royalty revenue and the upcoming anniversary represent a very exceptional circumstance,” Goel wrote in a report submitted to the Business Board of U of T’s Governing Council.

The 100th anniversary of insulin’s discovery is significant for the university — it was primarily a team of four U of T researchers that identified the hormone in 1921. Frederick Banting, John JR Macleod, Charles H Best, and James B Collip used a novel experimental technique to discern that insulin, secreted by the pancreas, plays an essential role in diabetes prevention. Following the team’s announcement of its findings, the university helped produce and distribute insulin to diabetics worldwide.

The upcoming celebrations and U of T’s connection to the discovery present a unique opportunity for the university. By capitalizing on the medical community’s excitement, fundraising initiatives might raise more money to finance U of T researchers. This is part of Drucker’s motivation for establishing a fund in honour of the occasion. “Professor Drucker is hoping that when we publicly announce this with the [UHN], it will be the kickoff for [a] much larger fundraising campaign,” said Goel at the latest Business Board meeting.

Drucker’s research has helped to create life-saving treatments for diabetes and other endocrine disorders. His work is closely tied to the research conducted by Banting and Macleod’s team. In addition to being a Professor of Medicine at U of T, Drucker is a Senior Investigator for the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, located at Mount Sinai Hospital. His research there centres on the physiology of specific hormones responsible for diabetes, obesity, and intestinal disorders. Some of these hormones are known to regulate insulin secretion. Studies conducted by his personal lab have helped produce new treatments for both type 2 diabetes and short bowel syndrome — diseases that affect millions of people across the world.

The university made Drucker an Assistant Professor of Medicine in 1987. By then he was already familiar with the institution, having earned his medical degree from U of T seven years prior. He spent the intervening time receiving clinical training in endocrinology and internal medicine from both The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Toronto General Hospital, which is now part of the UHN. Additionally, he completed a research fellowship in molecular endocrinology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

As the fund has yet to be finalized, the university has not formally announced it. However, in an email to The Varsity, U of T spokesperson Elizabeth Church said that it is one of many initiatives planned. “We are working on university-wide celebrations for the 100th anniversary in 2021, and we will start to share those plans once they are finalized,” Church said.

The Business Board, responsible for conducting periodic reviews of university fund allocation, received information of the proposed fund at its latest meeting. The Connaught Committee, which allocates funds for further research, approved Goel’s reallocation of inventions revenue plan in December.