University officials addressed recent criticisms about U of T’s policies on closing campuses during inclement weather at a Governing Council meeting held on February 28 at UTM.

In response to a question from graduate student member Sandhya Mylabathula, U of T Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr acknowledged recent criticisms about the multiple late closures of UTSG in the last few weeks, saying that there will be new considerations taken when assessing whether or not to close the campus.

Regehr is involved in determining UTSG’s status under adverse weather conditions alongside other university administrators.

Regehr also emphasized that Robarts Library will always be open 24 hours, even during harsh weather, adding that students could stay overnight during snowstorms.

The university has also hired additional staff, said Regehr, with current staff already working overtime to keep streets and entrances clear.

Vice-Provost Academic Operations Scott Mabury, who oversees operations to clear snow, assured the council that 350 workers should have entrances cleared by 9:00 am.

Building projects, Gertler’s report

Governing Council also approved funding for the FitzGerald Building Revitalization project, which would revamp the building to make it more efficient. Construction would start in May 2019, with occupancy expected by October 2020, though demolition and hazardous waste removal is slated to happen this month.

According to the project report, it currently costs around $50 per gross square metre to operate the building, and post-renovations should cost around $10 per gross square metre.

President Meric Gertler, who presented a report at the beginning of the meeting, reaffirmed the university’s access guarantee — which states that financial standing should not affect a student’s ability to attend U of T — and noted that contributions to the Boundless campaign could also be used to firm up student aid, in light of the cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.