The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper Since 1880

Through thick and thin

A letter from Josie Kao, Editor-in-Chief 2019–2020

Through thick and thin

Four years ago, I stood nervously in the hallways outside of The Varsity’s offices, trying to work up the courage to go inside a space that I so longed to be a part of. I left the office that day thinking that perhaps it wasn’t the place for me; perhaps this terrifying institution wasn’t where I belonged. 

Years later, I’ve now had the privilege and honour of leading The Varsity for one volume of its long, 140-year history. However, it took many articles and breakdowns for me to realize that The Varsity could be a home for me, and capable of helping students express their visions for a more equitable U of T.

Yet to the average U of T student, the newspaper may be a distant afterthought, if they ever think of it at all. 

But even if you go through your entire degree without ever picking up a copy of the paper, that doesn’t mean that you have been unaffected by its work. Change does happen at U of T, hard as that may be to believe, and one driver of that change is student media. 

Every week, I have watched as our editors and contributors ceaselessly push The Varsity — and by extension, U of T — to be the best that it can be. 

Comment Editor Angela Feng moulded her section into a place where students could freely criticize accessibility concerns of all kinds, from late withdrawals, to sick notes, to laptop bans. 

Managing Editor Ibnul Chowdhury and Senior Copy Editor Ori Gilboa dedicated their entire year to creating our behemoth of an equity guide, which I hope can act as a standard of excellence for mastheads to come. 

Features Editor Stephanie Bai made the best out of the Student Choice Initiative, because of which we lost our print magazines, and published a stunning digital magazine that has been a creative outlet for dozens of contributors. 

Our news team, led by Andy Takagi and Kathryn Mannie, doggedly covered the issues that mattered to students, whether it be the mental health crisis or COVID-19. 

In hard numbers, we set an all-time record for reaching the one million unique pageview mark on February 1, and over the year we’ve gained more than 1.5 million unique pageviews in total. We had over 400 contributors this year, of whom 100 were staff, and I’m grateful to each and every one of them.

To say that I am proud of the work that we accomplished this year would be an understatement, and yet I’ll be the first to admit that many mistakes were made. Achieving a more equitable workplace and content output was my main goal for this year, but this is, of course, a goal that can never be fully realized. 

‘Equity’ is not about publishing one article and patting ourselves on the back, but about continually putting in the work to bridge the gap between The Varsity and the communities we cover. The Varsity has rightly received fair criticisms for failures in the past, but it’s still worth acknowledging progress in the present.

This should not be your main takeaway of our work this year, but I’m one of the few — if not the only — women of colour to have had the privilege of running The Varsity. But I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my dream without the work of those who came before me. Therefore, I hope that the foundations we have laid this year will ensure that anyone can see themselves in this position in the future. Being the first shouldn’t matter, so long as you’re not also the last. 

Speaking of our achievements, I want to thank the masthead, who never failed to impress me with their wisdom and generosity. To Ilya, Ibnul, Julie, Al, Ori, Andy, Angela, Kashi, Stephanie, Adam, Silas, Vindhya, Megan, Kathryn, Will, Aditi, Dina, Iris, Nathalie, Kevin, Stephanie, Nicole, and our many associates, correspondents, and columnists: thank you for giving me the great honour of working with you this past year and bearing witness to your incredible contributions. I’ll never forget our late night font changes, mysterious Shringle appearances, or questionable Slack emojis.

Thanks is also owed to my predecessors, Jack, Jacob, and Alex, for their endless encouragement and guidance. 

To Ilya, thank you for the many good times and late nights we shared in this Varsity journey. To Ibnul, thank you for your level-headed wisdom that never failed in times of crisis. To Al, thank you for your neverending good humour and dependability. And finally, to Julie, thank you for being my moral and music compass — I don’t know where I would be without you. 

I know that The Varsity’s hope for a more equitable future is safe in the hands of my capable successor, Ibnul. Ibnul’s sound judgment and clear-eyed vision gives me perfect confidence in his ability to lead the paper through another year of ups and downs. 

I’ve said nearly all the thank-yous I’ve wanted to say, but I’ll end with one final expression of gratitude: thank you to you, our readers, for sticking with us through thick and thin. 

— Josie Kao

Editor-in-Chief, Volume CXL

4,422 U of T employees made over $100,000 in 2019

Annual Sunshine List shows increased earnings for business school-related professions

4,422 U of T employees made over $100,000 in 2019

The Ontario government released its annual public disclosure of salaries above $100,000, colloquially known as the Sunshine List, on March 20. It shows $715 million earned by 4,422 employees at U of T, Victoria University, Trinity College, and the University of St. Michael’s College in 2019.

Daren Smith, President and Chief Investment Officer of the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation, topped the Sunshine List for U of T with a salary of $800,749.46, a decrease from his $989,308 last year, and a knock-down from being the second highest-paid public employee in the province to the fifth. President Meric Gertler also moved down from being the third highest-paid employee at U of T to the 13th, having earned $438,892.04 in 2019 — a pay cut of nearly $50,000 from last year.

Gertler’s ranking on the Sunshine List was below multiple vice deans, finance and accounting professors, and three professors of strategic management who are, respectively, the second, third, and fourth highest-paid employees at U of T: Will Mitchell, Brian R. Golden, and Joel A. C. Baum.

The number of university employees whose salaries appear on the Sunshine List has steadily increased from 3,626 in 2016 to 4,422 in 2019 — an addition of about 400 employees every year. The average U of T employee listed made $161,710.11, with a median income of $146,587.39, indicating that those earning closer to $100,000 make up a majority of U of T’s Sunshine List.

The Breakdown: U of T’s 2020–2021 budget

International fees to rise about five per cent, funding allocated to mental health and diversity initiatives

The Breakdown: U of T’s 2020–2021 budget

The University of Toronto recently released its budget report for the next academic year, with long-range budget guidelines for 2020–2021 and the following four years. 

International enrollment, developing new revenue streams, and implementing the recommendations of the Presidential & Provostial Task Force for Mental Health are all central aspects of the report, which was profoundly shaped by the third Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA3), the first such agreement negotiated under the Doug Ford government. 

SMAs are agreements between postsecondary institutions and the province on how much funding schools will receive.

Domestic and international enrollment

The Ontario government first announced a 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition in January 2019, and announced at the same time that tuition would be frozen for the 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 academic years.

International fees are unaffected by the cuts, and will rise by an average of 5.3 per cent next year.

The university’s revenue, the majority of which comes from enrollment tuition and fees, is expected to rise by 8.6 per cent, taking into account the domestic tuition freeze and increased international tuition and enrollment.

The decision to increase international fees was made in consideration of the province’s choice to reduce operational grants by $750 for every international student enrolled in an undergraduate or master’s program.

Divisions still aim to increase the amount of international students, and to diversify that population to be more reflective of U of T’s global partnerships. The university expects the proportion of international students to rise to 28 per cent in the next academic year.

Furthermore, up to six per cent of each division’s international tuition will go to a scholarship fund for top international students. These scholarships will be awarded based on a variety of factors, including merit and need, and the amount invested is expected to grow from $14.7 million in 2020–2021 to $75.8 million in 2024–2025.

The provost has also planned to allocate money from the University Fund — a non-formulaic portion of the budget that’s used to meet institutional academic goals — to increase staff to provide international students with services like immigration advising.

International enrollment represents the greatest source of revenue for the university as of last year. However, in light of changes in funding from the provincial government and caps on tuition and enrollment, U of T has developed a plan for a new revenue stream called the Four Corners Strategy.

This strategy aims to generate $50 million in revenue per year by 2033 through the development of 3.5 million square feet of new space dedicated to campus services, amenities, and new office and retail space.

U of T would use ongoing leasing revenue to fund the early stages of proposed projects, and would invest the money made back into research and teaching.

The SMA3

Under the SMA3, which will be implemented starting in the 2020–2021 academic year and ends in 2025, performance-based funding will rise from 25 to 60 per cent of total provincial operating grants by 2024–2025. This would represent an increase within the university’s total revenue from 5.6 per cent to 11.7 per cent.

In addition, the university must maintain enrollment within a flexibility range of three per cent of a fixed amount. While the university continues to advocate for another 1,000 master’s and 1,000 doctoral spaces, these have not been approved under the current agreement.

Mental health and diversity

The University Fund has been allocated across four categories, including Student Success and Experience, which receives $6 million, and Faculty Diversity and Renewal, which receives $2.3 million.

Support for mental health service is one of the major pillars of the Student Success and Experience category. Efforts will focus on implementing the recommendations of the Presidential & Provostial Task Force for Mental Health, which includes restructuring mental health services, appointing a tri-campus clinical director, and expanding counselling options. 

Faculty Diversity and Renewal notably aims to support the hiring of 20 Black and Indigenous faculty members. This is consistent with U of T’s previous goal of hiring 80 faculty and 20 staff members from underrepresented groups.

COVID-19 and university comments

The future of the budget is deeply uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email to The Varsity, a U of T spokesperson wrote that the cost implications of the pandemic are still unknown, and that the budget was created under the expectation of normal circumstances.

The spokesperson added, “the University’s focus is on ensuring our students complete their term, provide a place for those students in residence who cannot return home, and support critical COVID-19 research. We are also providing emergency assistance grants for undergraduate and graduate students impacted by COVID-19 and who need immediate short-term financial relief because of unexpected expenses.”

The spokesperson also reaffirmed that the university’s “budget commitments to student mental health and our response to the task force [remain] the same.”

The Governing Council will vote on the proposed budget on April 2.

U of T extends pay continuity policy to on-campus workers, in light of COVID-19 pandemic

Workers will be paid until April 5 — little indication of what comes next

U of T extends pay continuity policy to on-campus workers, in light of COVID-19 pandemic

Effective March 14 and ending April 5, U of T will maintain a pay continuity policy, which will ensure that people who work on campus will continue to be paid regular wages. U of T has not revealed whether this policy will extend past April 5, potentially leaving some students who work on campus without a source of income. The Varsity heard from two such students about how these changes have affected them.

The university informed employees on March 14 that it would continue to pay staff in the event of cancellations. The official policy on pay continuity was released on March 18.

This policy includes all employees, whether they work on a term, temporary, or casual basis. The policy instructs workers to take additional paid sick days if they contract COVID-19, regardless of whether they have already used all their preappointed sick days.

Employees who receive salaries from the university will continue to be paid the same amount. Those who are paid hourly will be paid according to either their scheduled shifts or their average weekly wages — whichever is greater. Employees are expected to continue their work remotely, if possible, and otherwise may be assigned new work.

One anonymous student who works at Hart House, along with other on-campus jobs, told The Varsity that she is continuing to be paid for the time being, despite campus buildings being closed. Hart House administration sent an email on March 16 saying that employees would continue to be paid until April 2. She believes that, at the time of the email, U of T expected to reopen facilities soon after that deadline.

Her pay at Hart House and her other on-campus jobs is based on monthly hours that she and other employees decided on before the campus closures began. In the case of her Hart House job, the shifts were decided on Microsoft Teams, and employees will continue to be paid for the hours they signed up for, though they are not required to do any work.

This was not clear to all employees early on. In one case, an employee was unable to attend her shift in person, so she gave it to someone else. Her coworker is now being paid for those hours even though neither of them worked the shift. “I don’t like how no one knows what’s going on,” she said.

Thomas Siddall, a third-year student in international relations and contemporary Asian studies, works as a duty tech at Gerstein Library and a computer access facility assistant at Robarts Library. They are still being paid wages from both jobs, though the university has shut down both Gerstein and Robarts.

As a low-income student, Siddall relies on these jobs to pay bills. They feel that, given the university’s vast resources, U of T should be doing more to help on-campus workers.

The university can and should be refunding students’ tuition, residence fees, [remitting] payments to student casual workers — full-time staff still receive a salary — and [ensuring] that students will be… able to return to university,” said Siddall.

Siddall feels that student employees are being left out of the loop purposefully. For instance, full-time staff members received an email informing them of changes to the hours at Gerstein, while casual workers did not.

Both Siddall and the anonymous Hart House employee have received contracts for work over the summer, though it is unclear whether or not U of T will need its summer workers. 

The university has not yet responded to The Varsity’s request for comment.

Disclosure: Siddall served as a Victoria College Director for the University of Toronto Students’ Union until their resignation earlier this year.

U of T medical students launch Toronto Student COVID-19 Response Team

Students have volunteered more than 400 hours to help health care providers

U of T medical students launch Toronto Student COVID-19 Response Team

A group of students in medicine, nursing, and other health care-related fields at U of T have started a Toronto Student COVID-19 Response Team to help front-line workers fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative offers assistance with child care, grocery shopping, food and coffee delivery, pet-sitting, and running other errands in an effort to alleviate some of the recent pressures that health care providers are facing.

Daniel Lee and Jordi Klein, both U of T medical students, launched the response team by reaching out to classmates to see if they were willing to help.

Lauren Beck, another U of T medical student who serves as a volunteer coordinator and internal communications director for the initiative, described the outpouring of support from fellow students in an email to The Varsity.

“Within an hour there were dozens of responses,” Beck wrote. “All of us helping out are simply people who are trying to help other people through this challenging situation to the best of our abilities.”

Malli Zworth, a nursing student and fellow volunteer coordinator, told The Varsity that If we were in the same predicament that these health care professionals are in, we would want someone to help us.”

How the response team works

The team is made up of a four-person steering committee, 16 volunteer coordinators, and 416 student volunteers. The student volunteers are in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, respiratory therapy, and occupational therapy programs. Volunteers from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine are also involved.

Zworth said that the team has been expanded to include students in education programs across the GTA.

Impact on the community

According to Beck, the initiative has been able to arrange more than 100 successful matches between students and health care practitioners, and they’ve already volunteered over 400 hours.

Zworth added that the response from health care practitioners has been overwhelmingly positive. “Every email that I get back when I make a match for a health care worker… starts with, ‘Thank you so much for this initiative. You don’t understand how grateful we are and how helpful this is for us!’”

Zworth also emphasized the power that small actions can have. “Just changing the litter in their cat box, it’s so small and insignificant, but that’s just one thing that they can cross off their list that they don’t have to think about,” Zworth said. “It just makes you realize how a little thing can really go a long way for someone right now.”

According to Beck, more than 200 health care practitioners have filled out the form to request support, mostly in child care. As a result, the response team is actively recruiting more volunteers who are adept at providing child care support.

Ensuring safety while providing services

Beck stressed the importance of volunteers’ safety. She outlined various precautions the team has put in place, “such as asking volunteers to ensure they meet our stringent requirements about symptoms, risk factors and exposure history.”

“We also have a program design in which each student is only paired with one family for the duration of the program so that students are not meeting multiple families and increasing the risk of exposure,” she continued.

She added that students who live with high-risk populations, such as immunocompromised or elderly individuals, and people who have travelled outside Canada in the past 14 days are ineligible to volunteer.

Zworth and Beck’s role as volunteer coordinators also includes regularly checking in with volunteers to ensure that they don’t have any symptoms or new risk factors, and are still comfortable to continue.

For students who are not volunteers, but want to help, both Zworth and Beck highlighted the importance of following social distancing recommendations from public health officials.

“The health care workers going to the hospitals are trying to work for us every single day,” Zworth said. “The least we can do is just stay home and try to help them in that small way.”

Editor’s Note (April 7, 10:07 pm): This article has been updated to clarify the involvement of volunteers studying chiropractic therapy and naturopathy, fixing an editing error.

Opinion: Travelling home during a pandemic only adds to the fear and anxiety

The burden of uncertainty faced by international students

Opinion: Travelling home during a pandemic only adds to the fear and anxiety

On March 16, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would close its borders to non-essential travel. He later announced that it would remain open to international students. The sheer scale and suddenness of Trudeau’s announcement meant that anything was possible. 

At that moment, the preventative measure didn’t affect me personally, but it was nevertheless abrupt and unexpected.

Fast forward 24 hours later, and I had packed all of my things and prepared to board a 14-hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean to Bahrain — with a 20-hour layover in Dubai. 

Everything was chaotic. I ended up missing some of my online classes, but that was the least of my concerns. I was primarily worried about getting home. Navigating a pandemic places an additional burden on international students, whose sense of belonging is threatened as the world shuts down.

Trudeau’s announcement created room for greater uncertainty than my family and I had anticipated. After all, wasn’t the situation better in Canada? Wasn’t it less dire than in the US or UK, where my school friends were? Ostensibly, yes. But, what could come next? Shutting down outbound travel? A complete lockdown? 

It is incredibly difficult to make reasoned decisions when your position as a visa-carrying foreign student is at stake and changing by the hour. For those of us who are international students and have no family or relatives in Canada, the prospect of getting stuck by yourself on a different continent for an indefinite length of time is scary. 

This is not so much a question of being safe as it is of being separated.

This precariousness of the situation was apparent on my flight. Right before it took off, the government of Mauritius closed down its borders to all commercial flights. There were a handful of passengers on the aircraft whose final destination was Mauritius, and the crew had to make arrangements to escort them off the plane and locate their luggage. 

The resulting two-hour delay was ample time for me to reflect upon the perilously changing circumstances that we are currently facing — for me to reflect on the fact that those who left the plane could have been acting as fast as they could with the information they had. Yet, they fell prey to circumstance nevertheless — and many international students did too. 

Other than the emotional and situational burden of these uncertain times and having to make swift decisions without knowing the consequences, there is a real financial burden that international students may not be ready for. Booking a flight to the opposite side of the Earth incurs a potentially devastating invoice, especially when travel is both seriously limited and in especially high demand.

International travel itself is becoming increasingly restricted and unpredictable. Certainly, these measures are necessary in order to curb the spread of the virus, but they place international students, like myself, in a dangerously awkward position. 

After my layover in Dubai, there was some confusion as to whether or not my next flight would actually go to Bahrain. This was based on a rumour, but it sparked a serious dilemma on my part. If Bahrain shut down its borders, I wouldn’t be able to go home, and I wouldn’t have been able to return to Canada. 

The mere fact that I found myself in a position to contemplate this dilemma shows that there are things international students have to consider that are particularly burdensome. I entertained the notion that my passport, which validates my citizenship and existence, might not get me anywhere. In a crisis where everyone is feeling anxious for their health and safety, I was worried about becoming displaced. 

Under ordinary circumstances, I would go to India, where I am a citizen, but on that very day, India announced that it was blocking all international flights for a week. Had I been unable to board that flight to Bahrain, I would be stuck in a limbo of international borders, like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. No one wants to be him, but under the dystopian reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems eerily plausible.

Despite how dangerous it was and still is to travel internationally, I had to leave. The fact that myself and other international students still felt the compulsion to get on a plane, in spite of everything, is testament to the essentiality of being at home in a time of global crisis. 

Stuti Roy is a second-year Political Science student at Victoria College.

Opinion: Students seeking to make an impact should volunteer locally, not abroad

The shortcomings of voluntourism

Opinion: Students seeking to make an impact should volunteer locally, not abroad

We’re often told that we must develop into global citizens as the world becomes a global village. In trying to gain this global perspective, many students choose to volunteer abroad in low-income countries. They find that these experiences are eye-opening and meaningful, and give them insight into inequalities around the world.

U of T encourages students to go on a variety of volunteer missions. In the medical field, these opportunities can range from a dentistry outreach program in Uganda — a yearly program that collaborates with not-for-profit organizations to provide dental services in the Ugandan countryside — to an ophthalmology project in Costa Rica.

Even outside of medicine, the placements are diverse: students can assist in soup kitchens in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, or help hospitals with basic tasks such as triage. U of T also has a scholarship that provides students with a course on teaching English as a foreign language, so that students can do so abroad for two weeks.

While these opportunities are alluring, they tend to verge on romanticized voluntourism a practice whereby tourists travel with the goal of both doing volunteer work and gaining valuable cultural experiences. However, these volunteers often leave without having contributed to tangible or sustainable change.

The bulk of general volunteer placements are arranged through a third party. As a result, U of T can’t be held accountable for how much impact a trip actually has on the local community. However, this isn’t the case for medical trips: since the university has international partnerships with local organizations, it has more leverage in creating a lasting and meaningful experience for everyone involved.

For example, the Dentistry in Uganda Program has partnerships with not-for-profit organizations like the Kigezi Healthcare Foundation. Medical missions have specified agendas and goals, and the students and professors attending them have medical expertise that is inherently valuable and relevant to those communities.

In contrast, it isn’t clear how meaningful short-term general international volunteer placements are for the communities in which they take place.

Take, for example, a university student teaching English to Tanzanian children for two weeks. Those children are not only learning from an inexperienced teacher, but they also see their teacher leave within less than a month. Not only can this separation break their hearts, but it also makes it unclear whether the temporary role of foreign teachers truly contributes to furthering learning and development.

As Sarah Pycroft, a UK teacher who volunteered for students in Sri Lanka, wrote in The Guardian, “[The other volunteers] suggested I teach them colours… I thought: ‘How do you not realize that every single previous volunteer would have taught them colours. You taught them nothing. They were good at colours because they knew it already. You’ve had no impact.’” The constant turnover of volunteering does not allow for continuous learning.

Voluntourism companies have been under intense scrutiny as non-government organizations across the world question the validity of sending youth to low-income countries without any expertise to do “difficult and sometimes inappropriate work.” To make matters worse, many companies fail to perform background checks, a routine procedure for jobs involving children, according to The Guardian

This reasoning also applies to other general volunteering opportunities, such as volunteering in soup kitchens abroad. There’s no benefit in paying an excruciating amount of money or spending a scholarship, to do a job that a local Costa Rican could do. Transitioning these voluntary positions into paid ones could help local workers, and ease the burden of unnecessary expenses for overseas volunteers.

There are alternatives to volunteering abroad. Canada has many enduring socioeconomic and medical inequalities. The relationship between Indigenous peoples and settlers, for example, is one that could benefit from a sincere desire to connect with these communities on their terms. 

First Nations and Métis peoples across Canada are at higher risks of arthritis, asthma, and diabetes. In Ontario, “the prevalence of diabetes in Aboriginal people is three times that in non-Aboriginal Ontarians,” according to a government report. These inequalities put a significant strain on rural hospitals, and many hospitals in Indigenous and rural communities are appreciative of an extra hand. 

One can have a helpful and life-changing experience volunteering with various organizations such as L’Arche — community houses that provide safe and inclusive homes for disabled folk — or local soup kitchens, such as The Scott Mission.

Instead of allocating expenses toward voluntourism trips abroad, students should volunteer to aid local hospitals and shelters. These general placements still provide an interdisciplinary understanding of inequities without spending thousands of dollars. Moving forward, U of T should encourage more students to go on volunteer missions closer to home.

Joel Ndongmi is a first-year Social Sciences student at Victoria College.

Opinion: The credit/no credit deadline must be extended across all campuses, not just at UTSG

UTSC and UTM students should be afforded the same accommodation

Opinion: The credit/no credit deadline must be extended across all campuses, not just at UTSG

The impacts of COVID-19 have made all of our school lives more difficult. At the University of Toronto, the credit/no credit (CR/NCR) policy has been key in ameliorating academic difficulties. After all, being able to see your grade before deciding to CR/NCR is a sigh of relief in the face of heavily-weighted — yet now uncertain — finals. 

However, this is not a privilege afforded to all U of T students. In fact, UTSC and UTM students, who face the same difficulties in light of the spread of COVID-19, are making their CR/NCR choices without knowing their final marks.

UTSC and UTM students can only make their decisions until April 25 and April 22 respectively, and “no final grades will be released until after this date” per the UTSC website.

UTSG’s Faculty of Arts & Science was the first to announce its updated CR/NCR policy on March 15. It would have made sense for UTSC and UTM to follow suit, but instead, their announcements came two days after, with different CR/NCR deadlines.

The rationale that was offered for the differences between campuses is what is truly frustrating. 

The UTM website helpfully outlines that “the regulations and procedures that govern these decisions… may vary among the divisions across the University, as is normally the case.” These differences aim to “[maintain] academic standards of degrees and programs.”

In other words, differences in regulations and procedures, academic standards, and more are the cause of differences in policy.

Yet I do not believe that academic standards are so different across the three campuses as to warrant such a substantial variance. 

To be clear, the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Rotman School of Management at UTSG have both taken identical positions to the Faculty of Arts & Science. If three widely differing divisions with differing academic regulations and policies can arrive at the same decision downtown, then UTSC and UTM ought to as well.

For students who are dependent on final marks for employment, graduate school, and beyond, the ability to CR/NCR without knowledge of final marks is not sufficient when faced with writing a final that’s worth 40–50 per cent of their grade in an experimental, untested format. UTSG, the University of Waterloo, and Ryerson University all seem to agree on offering students the ability to CR/NCR after viewing their grades.

Fundamentally, this is an equity issue. UTSC and UTM students are U of T students too; they face the same academic standards, graduate with the same degree, and are equally impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Every U of T student deserves the same accommodations in the face of this pandemic.

Perhaps the university needs to listen to the petitions being circulated by those who have been impacted.

George Chen is a fourth-year Management and International Business student at UTSC.