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University Affairs Board discusses demographic survey, mental health app at first meeting of year

University “reviewing” Campus Police training, operations
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RILLA WANG/THE VARSITY
RILLA WANG/THE VARSITY

The University Affairs Board (UAB) held its first meeting of the 2020–2021 school year, discussing a demographic survey, a new mental health app, and Campus Police.

Vice-Provost Students Sandy Welsh also reported at the meeting that she will be taking a six month leave from the role to focus on research, and current Vice-Dean of First Year Engineering Micah Stickel will be the acting vice-provost students for the duration.

Demographic survey

The Office of the Vice-Provost Students (OVPS) will be launching a demographic survey sometime this fall for all currently enrolled students to gain a better understanding of the student population at U of T.

Data collected by the survey will be used to inform the university’s outreach efforts, especially those directed at marginalized groups. In addition, Welsh said that the survey “will help [U of T] in terms of understanding underrepresented students in terms of enrolment, and to develop and maintain programs that respond to the needs of… current students.”

The survey will be voluntary, though the OVPS hopes to encourage students to participate by making it easily accessible through ACORN. It will also allow students to give feedback on the questions asked. “This is long overdue,” said Welsh

Welsh also spoke about a new service the university is introducing, a mental health app called Navi. Navi is a virtual chat assistant and wayfinding tool that can connect users to a variety of different mental health or other services at U of T. The service allows users to remain completely anonymous and will be available to all U of T community members.

The app was tested by students and staff, and Welsh noted that the service will hopefully grow, with the possibility of including college- or faculty-specific information.

“We’re doing this in line with the recommendations from the mental health task force that noted that one of the first areas that we needed to be focused on was simply helping students find the resources that are available, and Navi is focused on doing just that,” said Welsh.

Navi

Welsh also spoke about a new service the university is introducing, a mental health app called Navi. Navi is a virtual chat assistant and wayfinding tool that can connect users to a variety of different mental health or other services at U of T. The service allows users to remain completely anonymous and will be available to all U of T community members.

The app was tested by students and staff, and Welsh noted that the service will hopefully grow, with the possibility of including college- or faculty-specific information.

“We’re doing this in line with the recommendations from the mental health task force that noted that one of the first areas that we needed to be focused on was simply helping students find the resources that are available, and Navi is focused on doing just that,” said Welsh.

Campus Police

Vice-Provost Human Resources and Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat also answered a question from a board member about recent calls to defund or abolish Campus Police.

She responded, “We are currently reviewing our campus delivery, training, and operations, as well as recruitment practices and policies as they relate to Campus Police on all three campuses.” She added that all campus police officers and building patrol staff receive anti-bias and equity training.

In addition, she noted that the university tries to hire individuals who graduated from U of T and who “reflect the diversity of [U of T’s] community.”

Editor’s note (October 6): An incomplete version of this article was previously uploaded incorrectly. The complete version has now been updated. The Varsity regrets the error.