Earlier today, a group of University of Toronto professors sent an open letter to President Meric Gertler calling on the university to close campus on September 27 — the last day of the Global Climate Strike. This follows a letter sent to Gertler earlier this week by University–Rosedale MPP Jessica Bell calling for the same thing.
The letter from the U of T community proposes that campus be closed from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm so that the U of T community may participate in a rally at Queen’s Park, organized by Fridays for Future. The move stems from the belief that “everyone in [the U of T] community who wishes to participate should be supported and even encouraged to do so.”
This open letter was released to the public on September 23 at 11:00 am. Between then and 2:00 pm today, it has amassed over 1,500 signatures from U of T affiliates. According to Geography and Planning Professor Susan Ruddick, one of the authors, approximately 900 students, 300 faculty members, 80 staff members, and 43 librarians have added their names to the growing list of signees. The open letter will still be accepting endorsements at least until the end of this Wednesday.
The nine principal authors of this letter — eight professors and one librarian — have added their voices to a growing number of Toronto community members calling on the university to make greater accommodations for the Global Climate Strike rally.
The authors added that “anything short of campus closures will download responsibility for managing the uneven landscape of disruption arising from the strike (which we unequivocally support) on to individuals.”
Bell published a letter to Gertler proposing that classes be cancelled on Friday from 11:00 am until the late afternoon. In publishing this letter, Bell seeks to “[support] students and staff in standing up to climate change.” She also expressed her intention to attend the Global Climate Strike rally on Friday.
Bell called on U of T to follow the lead of Québec universities in cancelling classes.
A number of U of T community leaders have signed Bell’s letter, including Maryssa Barras, External Commissioner of the Graduate Students’ Union; Emily Chu, Chair of Trinity College Meeting; Felipe Nagata, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario; and Simran Sawhney, President of the Woodsworth College Students’ Association.
In an U of T News article released Tuesday night, Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr announced support for individual faculties giving flexibility to students who want to attend the climate strike: “Where possible, faculties are showing flexibility for students to participate in the rally – and we support that approach,” said Regehr. Faculty of Arts & Science Dean Melanie Woodin, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering Dean Chris Yip, Faculty of Information Dean Wendy Duff, and UTSC’s Acting-Dean Maydianne Andrade are among the Deans that have asked instructors to support students who intend to strike on Friday.
Editor’s Note (September 25, 12:52 pm): This article has been updated to include comment from U of T.
Editor’s Note (October 6, 1:22 pm): This article has been updated to correct that Emily Chu is the Chair of the Trinity College Meeting.