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U of T disestablishes Faculty of Forestry

Forestry to become a graduate unit under Daniels following Governing Council vote

U of T disestablishes Faculty of Forestry

In its final meeting of 2018–2019, Governing Council approved a proposal to disestablish U of T’s Faculty of Forestry and restructure it as a graduate unit under the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Following a discussion period, which included statements of opposition from the Forestry Graduate Students’ Association (FGSA) and the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), the proposal received 29 votes in favour and two abstentions

On July 1, the 112-year-old faculty, which was Canada’s first for forestry-related studies, closed. Forestry’s faculty budgetary appointments will transfer to Daniels. U of T will add an additional $1 million to Daniels’ annual base budget and provide supplementary resources to hire five additional faculty members for Forestry, doubling its current number.

The proposal does not outline any changes to either Daniels or Forestry programs. Forestry’s three programs — the Master of Forestry Conservation, the Master of Science in Forestry, and the PhD in Forestry — will all continue to operate. Forestry will remain located in the Earth Sciences Centre on 33 Willcocks Street.

Forestry-specific endowments and graduate funding will remain, as will the FGSA as a representative for Forestry students.

Genesis of the proposal

Current Forestry Dean Robert Wright, who was hired in 2017 with the intention of advancing Forestry’s restructuring, ended his term on June 30, after the Dean of Forestry position ceased to exist.

Daniels Dean Richard Sommer will appoint a Forestry Program Director from Forestry’s five current tenure-stream faculty members. The Program Director will oversee Forestry programs’ day-to-day operations while Sommer will maintain administrative and budgetary responsibility for Forestry in addition to his current responsibilities.

U of T hopes that restructuring the Faculty of Forestry under Daniels will provide Forestry programs with greater academic and financial stability. In 2018–2019, Forestry had 122 students and an attributed operating revenue of around $3.68 million — the third-smallest of U of T’s 20 divisions. In comparison, in 2018–2019, Daniels had an attributed operating revenue of approximately $36.29 million, as well as 27 tenure-stream faculty members and 1,468 students.

The proposal cites Forestry’s low enrolment, faculty complement, and current demand as indicators that it is not financially sustainable in its previous form.

Student opposition

At the meeting, FGSA Chair Nicole Tratnik criticized the university’s perceived failure to provide a suitable academic rationale or an academic framework to ensure that Forestry’s identity will be maintained under Daniels. 

“We are concerned that the restructuring will turn this multi-faceted faculty into only urban forestry and wood engineering sub-programs,” she said.

She reiterated the FGSA’s demand to establish Forestry as a higher-level Extra-Departmental Unit (EDU) within Daniels. “This will keep Forestry’s science- and lab-based interests intact and visible under a design- and studio-based Faculty,” she said.

UTSU Vice-President Professional Faculties Dermot O’Halloran also addressed the council and urged its members to delay the proposal’s approval until further consultations with students are made. “At the very least, institutional protections for students in Forestry, such as creating an EDU:A or :B, should absolutely not be taken off the table,” he said. “We see and recognize the value of the Faculty of Forestry as it stands and we ask that you do today as well.”

In response to these concerns and questions brought up by members of the council, Wright advocated for the proposal’s merits. He described Forestry’s current faculty structure as “the most expensive form of administrative activity.”

“As an academic, my obligation is to protect the programs,” he said. “If you really want to save the Forestry programs, now’s the time to actually do it because this [restructuring] will… revolutionize the capacity of Forestry.”

Forestry’s future

The FGSA’s demands for Forestry to be demarcated as an EDU have thus far been delayed by the university and Daniels, who have said that such discussions could be had if and when Forestry is restructured. Now that the restructuring has been approved, Tratnik said that the FGSA remains hopeful of progress given Daniels’ “experience incorporating new programs into their Faculty.”

“Foresters think about managing forests not only for now, but for the next several decades. We feel that restructuring the Faculty of Forestry should [be] thought of in a similar way,” Tratnik told The Varsity. “Our goal has always been to ensure that the standard of forestry education remains for students in the future.”

The Governing Council vote on June 25 was the proposal’s final stage of formal governance. It was unanimously recommended by the Planning and Budget Committee on May 9. The proposal then received 43 votes in favour, three votes against, and two abstentions at the Academic Board on May 30. The Executive Committee endorsed and forwarded the proposal on June 10.

Uncertainty looms over Forestry’s identity ahead of final vote on closure today

Stakeholders weigh in on faculty’s impending restructuring under Daniels

Uncertainty looms over Forestry’s identity ahead of final vote on closure today

Governing Council will issue a final vote today on U of T’s proposal to disestablish the Faculty of Forestry and restructure it as a graduate unit under the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. The vote follows recommendations by the Planning and Budget Committee and the Academic Board, as well as an endorsement by the Executive Committee. If approved, Canada’s first forestry faculty will close on July 1, after 112 years of operation.

The university administration and the deans of Daniels and Forestry all maintain that, despite the faculty’s probable disestablishment, Forestry programs and research would continue as usual under Daniels. However, the Forestry Graduate Students’ Association (FGSA) and Forestry faculty members and alumni have criticized the proposal for its perceived failure to ensure that Forestry would still retain its distinct identity, a concern they say was brought up during the university’s consultation periods. The University of Toronto Students’ Union and the Arts & Science Students’ Union have additionally expressed concerns over the proposed disestablishment.

The root of the problem

U of T opened the Faculty of Forestry in 1907. At the start, the faculty endured a strenuous relationship with the U of T administration, which stunted its early ambitions, according to history professor Mark Kuhlberg. This issue was punctuated by Bernhard Fernow, the faculty’s inaugural Dean, who, in his 1912 report, wrote, “…it cannot be said that the Faculty has reached a permanent form”.

Since then, the faculty has continued to face issues of instability and, at times, volatility. In 2018–2019, it had the third-smallest attributed revenue of U of T’s 20 divisions and was home to just five tenure-stream faculty members and 122 students. In its restructuring proposal, the university notes that these factors indicate that, despite posting balanced budgets, the faculty is not financially sustainable.

Following stagnation within the faculty and ongoing informal discussions, the university hosted a consultation process in 2017 that would act as the source of its current proposal. The consultation considered a number of possibilities for Forestry’s future, including maintenance of the status quo, closure, expansion, and a merger with another division.

U of T opted to pursue the final option.

Sowing the seed

On July 1, 2017, the university appointed Robert Wright — the Director of the Daniels’ Centre for Landscape Research — as the Dean of Forestry. Wright was given a two-year term ending June 30, 2019. If the university’s proposal succeeds, that would also be the last day of Forestry’s existence as a faculty.

“I took the position because I believed… that forestry programs needed to continue at the University of Toronto,” Wright wrote to The Varsity. “The Faculty of Forestry was in serious trouble, and if it continued as such, it would quickly cease to exist. Our academic mission was paramount. We needed to focus our efforts on the long-term sustainability of existing programs, faculty renewal and new program initiatives.”

Following consultations, the university administration and Wright deemed that Daniels would be the best fit for Forestry, given that both are professional faculties and that there are numerous potential avenues for interdisciplinary research between the two. The proposal highlights “areas of bio products, landscape conservation, or mass timber use in building design and construction” as examples.

Daniels is also a more secure faculty than Forestry. In 2018–2019, its attributed revenue was $26.8 million greater and it had 22 more tenure-stream faculty members and 1,346 more students.

According to Daniels Dean Richard Sommer, the faculty only formally entered discussions regarding Forestry’s restructuring in November 2018, one month prior to the proposal’s first draft release.

The draft’s release in December then triggered a mandatory minimum 120-day consultation period, after which a final draft was released and entered formal governance, beginning with the Planning and Budget Committee meeting on May 9. There, U of T Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr said that restructuring Forestry under Daniels would be “a unique moment when the discipline can be redefined within the context of the university and wider society, and where the new synergies and opportunities can be realized.”

Indeed, the FGSA and Forestry faculty members and alumni all agree that restructuring under Daniels can be beneficial, but only with additional provisions. 

The consultation trail

The restructuring proposal notes that by the time Daniels entered formal discussions, “Forestry faculty members unanimously supported moving forward with a restructuring process that would move forestry activities into Daniels.”

However, FGSA Chair Nicole Tratnik said that this claim and the proposal misrepresents Forestry. In an interview with The Varsity, she clarified that some Forestry faculty members had left the faculty in the past few years and, while they did not wholly oppose restructuring under Daniels, nor did the university force them out, they felt that they would be more productive in other faculties.

Tratnik also noted that the proposal wasn’t voted on by Forestry’s faculty council. U of T’s academic restructuring policy does not require it to receive approval from either the affected or destination faculty’s council. Instead, it requires “potentially affected Academic Units [to] have had a reasonable opportunity to participate in a collegial, inclusive and deliberative process.” While Daniels’ faculty council provided a vote of confidence in the proposal, there was still opposition from remaining Forestry faculty members. Nonetheless, the university deemed this requirement to have been met.

While Tratnik said that Wright has been willing to meet with Forestry students, some of the FGSA’s concerns regarding the proposal draft were not addressed when U of T released its final draft in April.

Seeing the forest for the trees

In March, the FGSA sent a letter supported by 34 Forestry students to the university, asking it to clarify its intentions of establishing a distinct identity for Forestry, maintaining Forestry program accreditation, and continuing Forestry’s endowments.

The university addressed all these concerns to varying degrees of detail when it released the proposal’s final draft in April. It clarified the continued administration of endowments and communicated that the Master of Forest Conservation would remain an accredited professional program despite Forestry’s shift from a faculty to a graduate unit.

Maintaining Forestry’s identity is a decidedly more complex matter that the various stakeholders do not see eye-to-eye on. 

In a bid to ensure that Forestry maintains a degree of administrative and financial autonomy, the FGSA is requesting that Daniels recognize Forestry as a higher-level Extra-Departmental Unit (EDU). 

According to U of T, EDUs are “flexible and multidisciplinary entities organized around emerging research and teaching areas that span disciplines.” An example is the School of the Environment, which is an EDU:B under the Faculty of Arts & Science.

At this time, U of T has not communicated a stance on Forestry’s potential establishment as an EDU under Daniels. In an interview with The Varsity, Regehr wrote, “The program could evolve over time after the restructuring has taken place, but it would need to come about as a collegial process at Daniels.”

Sommer, however, believes that establishing Forestry as an EDU under Daniels contradicts the FGSA’s desire for a distinct identity due to EDUs’ multidisciplinary nature.

“How is it that Forestry would have its own EDU without forging it together with [Daniels] around our interdisciplinary interests?” Sommer told The Varsity. “[The FGSA’s] primary concern is a way for Forestry to have an identity… and some independence as a discipline within our faculty, which they will have [as a graduate unit.]”

According to Wright, “The main concern for [Forestry members] is to ensure Forestry programs are promoted and have a distinct identity if moved into a larger faculty… I believe this proposal [addresses] that concern and we can continue those discussions at Daniels.”

While the Faculty of Forestry’s 112-year history will likely soon come to an end, the rebuilding process of the Forestry community’s identity is set to begin in earnest.

Editor’s Note (June 26, 2:07 pm): This article has been updated to correct a quote from Sommer on Forestry and Daniels’ interdisciplinary interests.

U of T begins Faculty of Forestry disestablishment process

Governance committee approves transferring faculty to Daniels despite student opposition, final vote on June 25

U of T begins Faculty of Forestry disestablishment process

U of T’s Planning and Budget Committee (PBC) has unanimously recommended the disestablishment of the Faculty of Forestry and its restructuring as a graduate unit under the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. The proposal must still be voted on by the Academic Board and the Executive Committee before being approved by Governing Council on June 25. If approved, the Faculty of Forestry would be disestablished, effective July 1.

Under this plan, the existing Forestry programs would continue to operate, but administrative and financial duties, including Forestry’s budget, would be moved under the jurisdiction of the Daniels Faculty. Financial aid would continue at current levels following the potential restructuring, as would Forestry endowments.

The restructuring proposal is motivated in part by the Faculty of Forestry’s projected long term financial unsustainability, and by the synergies between Daniels and Forestry programs.

Forestry Graduate Student Association (FGSA) Chair Nicole Tratnik urged the committee to reconsider the proposal because it does not meet students’ needs, but the proposal nonetheless received unanimous recommendation.

U of T Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr said that restructuring Forestry would be “a unique moment when the discipline can be redefined within the context of the university and wider society, and where the new synergies and opportunities can be realized.” The proposal discusses this potential in research areas such as “bio products, landscape conservation, or mass timber use in building design and construction.”

Tratnik, however, believes the proposal is inadequate in its current form. “Forestry and architecture could be something novel and rewarding, but if done badly, could result in the loss of Canada’s oldest institution of Forestry, a pillar of higher education and research excellence at a time when Canada’s forests face unprecedented change,” she said.

Proposed Daniels budget

The proposal notes that despite managing a balanced budget, the Faculty of Forestry will not be financially sustainable in the long term. In addition to moving Forestry’s budget to Daniels, U of T would also provide an additional $1 million to its base budget “to support future collaborations amongst faculty members and the Faculty’s overall sustainability.”

Tratnik criticized the vagueness of the commitment and said that there is no guarantee this would be used to support Forestry directly. She also questioned U of T’s proposal to allocate this $1 million to Daniels, rather than allocating that money to directly support the Faculty of Forestry.

Under the proposal, the Dean of Forestry position would cease to exist, and Daniels Dean Richard Sommer would have administrative and budgetary responsibility for Forestry, “including responsibility for faculty budgetary appointments transferred from Forestry” and appointing a Forestry Program Director.

Criticism of consultation process

Following consultations beginning in March 2017, the proposal was formalized and released for consultation among faculty and staff in December. It was open for the minimum requirement of 120 days before it could go through governance.

While the report notes that “Forestry faculty members unanimously supported moving forward with a restructuring process,” Tratnik told the committee that this was misleading. She alleged that “three of the seven faculty members that did not agree were moved to other departments, and [that] the proposal wasn’t voted on by the Forestry Faculty Council.”

In response to a question about this issue from a PBC member, Regehr said that U of T’s faculty restructuring policy does not require it to obtain approval from affected faculty councils.

Tratnik said that U of T failed to incorporate the FGSA’s suggestion of making Forestry a high-level Extra-Departmental Unit under Daniels, which would grant it more administrative power to “keep Forestry’s interests intact.”

She added that U of T failed to explicitly communicate its intentions of establishing an urban forestry undergraduate program, and to clarify the status of cross-divisional teaching of current Forestry programs.

The PBC lost its quorum toward the end of the meeting, meaning that it could not approve its April 3 meeting report. Approval of the report has been moved to the first meeting of next academic year in September. Quorum is nine voting members — or one-third of its total voting members.

On May 30, the Academic Board voted to recommend the proposal, with 43 votes in favour, three votes against, and two abstentions.

Editor’s Note (June 7, 11:00 am): This article has been updated to include details from the Academic Board vote.

Save the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto

Moving the program into the Daniels Faculty will be detrimental to climate-change research

Save the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto

U of T is in the final stages of its plan to eliminate the Faculty of Forestry and move its staff, faculty, students, and programs into the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design as of this July. A news release from the university said that “The proposal would go through the governance process beginning on May 9.”

The abolition of the Faculty of Forestry as a standalone faculty is one of the worst ideas in U of T’s history. In an era of climate change, forests are the key to sustaining life on Earth. They sequester carbon, emit oxygen, filter precipitation, absorb rain, and protect ecosystems from erosion. We need forests. U of T should show pride in the Faculty of Forestry, and invest in it.

The Faculty of Forestry’s proud history began in 1907 as Canada’s oldest forestry faculty. Plaques displayed in the Earth Sciences Centre attest to the faculty’s men who gave their lives in World War I and World War II.

By the turn of the 20th century, settlers had cut down much of the forest on the Oak Ridges Moraine, and east to Northumberland County. The topsoil proved too thin to support agriculture and blew away, resulting in mass desertification and devastating annual floods in Port Hope and other communities.

Foresters knew what to do. They mobilized the government of Ontario to set up a network of tree nurseries across Canada. A massive, province-wide campaign to plant trees ensued. To this day, red pine plantations in a wide band of the northern GTA attest to the wisdom of this prescription. After the mass reforestation of the Ganaraska River Valley, the floods in Port Hope ceased. In 1968, Premier John Robarts planted the one-billionth tree: a sugar maple grown at the St. Williams provincial government nursery. Robarts also gave his name to the university’s flagship library.

Robert Wright was appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Forestry in July 2017. The university appointed him to abolish the stand-alone faculty, and he has worked hard to achieve that goal. During his first 18 months, the dean did not meet with forestry students as a group to discuss this goal or to solicit feedback. He held a town hall to discuss the restructuring only after the 34 students who enrolled in the Master of Forest Conservation in September 2017 had completed their course work and left the school.

Thus the assertion of the U of T provost, Cheryl Regehr, that “we are strongly committed to using these consultations to identify the best structure for forestry-related academic programs at the University of Toronto,” rings false.

In a recent open letter, my colleague Ben Filewod, a PhD candidate in forestry, spelled out some concerns over this transition. The Faculty of Forestry has gained recognition across Canada for its expertise in promoting the bioeconomy; for example, researchers have succeeded in making car parts out of nano-cellulose. Other research uses soil amendments to help forests, and other labs at U of T find new ways to defend forests from invasive species. One lab raises caterpillars who feed on invasive the dog-strangling vine.

Forestry companies and governments rely on the expertise of centres such as the Faculty of Forestry. A 2016 external review noted that “the University of Toronto’s program is designed to produce graduates qualified to move rapidly into research or managerial/policy-making roles.” Folding the faculty into a subordinate role in another faculty, with no dean to advocate on its behalf, risks reducing U of T’s leadership role in forestry research in Ontario. Schools in Quebec, New Brunswick, and British Columbia are ill-equipped to take its place.

Forestry overlaps with architecture in two areas: urban forestry and the use of wood in buildings and design. This leaves out, for example, the study of Ontario’s huge forested areas, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, and the boreal forest that covers most of the province and generates tens of thousands of jobs.

Large, healthy, contiguous, diverse forests are more vital than ever to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We need a dedicated unit at the University of Toronto to tell the government how to enhance and improve our forests. The U of T community must wake up and save its Faculty of Forestry.

Peter Kuitenbrouwer will graduate with a Master of Forest Conservation from the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto in June 2019.

Daniels receives $6 million donation to establish financial aid awards

Gift from Daniels Foundation to support undergraduate, graduate students

Daniels receives $6 million donation to establish financial aid awards

The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design has received a $6 million donation from the John and Myrna Daniels Foundation that will be used to provide financial support to its undergraduate and graduate architecture students. The donation establishes the John and Myrna Daniels Foundation Opportunity Award, which will be awarded to students based on academic merit and financial need.

According to Dale Duncan, the Daniels faculty’s Senior Communications & Media Relations Officer, $2 million of the endowed fund is reserved for undergraduate students, while the remaining $4 million may be used to support both undergraduate and graduate students. U of T will match the annual payout of the donation, hence doubling its impact. “In time, this will provide close to $500,000 in student financial assistance every year,” said Duncan.

Like other endowed award funds at U of T, this contribution is established in perpetuity in order to preserve its value over time, accounting for inflation. As a result, the capital from the donation will be invested by the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation.

The award is the second that John and Myrna Daniels have created for the faculty, following the John and Myrna Daniels Scholars Award, which was created in 2008 from a $5 million donation. The Scholars Award, targeted exclusively to graduate students, has provided financial aid to 81 master’s students. According to Duncan, many of the awards established at the faculty have historically been directed solely to graduate students because the faculty did not offer undergraduate programs from 1998–2012.

“With our undergraduate programs attracting large numbers of students, the Faculty is very appreciative of those donors who now wish to support the undergraduate student community with their educational costs,” wrote Duncan.

U of T phased out undergraduate programs from Daniels in 1998, moving the undergraduate major in Architectural Studies to the Faculty of Arts & Science. In 2012, the architecture faculty reintroduced the undergraduate program. It now has two undergraduate programs and seven graduate programs.

As of November 2017, the Daniels faculty had 1,046 undergraduate students and 396 graduate students. Like students in the Faculty of Arts & Science, tuition for domestic undergraduates is $6,590; international undergraduate tuition is $45,690. Domestic tuition for master’s studies in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Design is $12,070; international tuition is $41,840. Tuition for master’s studies in Visual Studies is $8,860 for domestic students and $31,150 for international students.

This latest donation brings the John and Myrna Daniels’ support of the faculty to $30 million. The John and Myrna Daniels had previously provided $14 million in 2008 to create the Scholars Award and provide capital support to the faculty. In 2013, they provided $10 million to support the revitalization of One Spadina Crescent, where the faculty is currently located.

“The Daniels Faculty is tremendously honoured to have received three gifts over the past decade,” wrote Duncan.

John Daniels graduated from U of T in 1950 with a Bachelor’s of Architecture. “He received financial support in the form of an award during his time at U of T,” said Duncan. “He has noted that the support he received as a student helped make it possible for him to complete his studies and pursue a very productive and rewarding career.”

Architecture graduate students report subpar working conditions in One Spadina

Students cite lack of privacy, noise concerns, limited workspaces

Architecture graduate students report subpar working conditions in One Spadina

Architecture critic Alex Bozikovic of The Globe and Mail once called One Spadina, the central hub for the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, “one of the best Canadian buildings of the past decade.” But since the faculty celebrated its formal opening in November 2017, graduate students have been voicing complaints about the building’s design. Specifically, the graduate studio space in One Spadina has come under fire for its limited desk space and bad acoustics.

The New York Times once praised the studio as a “110-foot-wide column-free room,” but the lack of columns and walls, paired with its high ceiling, have created an environment where hushed conversations and even clicks of keyboard typing echo across the room.

In addition to the high noise levels, there is also limited desk space and privacy in the studio, due to desks lacking dividers and the absence of walls.

“You don’t have a ton of room for your own stuff,” said Louisa Kennett, a first-year Master of Architecture student. “I think having a low wall might be alright, but I don’t think having cubicles would necessarily be a positive change, because it would inhibit discussion amongst classmates.”

In response to the lack of privacy, many students have resorted to constructing their own dividers as a solution.

However, there are no tools available for graduate students to construct these dividers, said Nassim Abdollahi Sani, a second-year Master of Architecture student. Furthermore, the time for construction is too costly, especially for students inexperienced with woodwork.

“I feel like for someone who is here maybe two, three days a week, four days a week for a short time, it doesn’t make sense,” said Sani.

Speaking on the problem with acoustics, Shawn Johnston, a second-year Master of Architecture student, said that, “When there’s a bunch of people in here, no matter what, it just feels noisy. And when people are stressed, you can hear it — if there’s one or two people in here, you can hear the conversation across the room.”

The noise levels are a partial result of having no dividers on the open desks. The undivided desk surfaces have also resulted in no privacy and unclear boundaries of space, explained Sani.

“Each person doesn’t even have enough room to do anything in. So even if I wanted to do something, it would take some space away from the next person.”

There is limited desk space and privacy in the studio. ADAM LAM/THE VARSITY

The motivation behind the open spaces

Sani recalled that in the old building for the graduate studio spaces, students were assigned cubicles with tall walls for privacy.

But in the new studio space, according to Daniels Dean Richard Sommer, they have “arranged the studios to facilitate more collaboration, and distribute some of the space that was previously dedicated to individual desks to more collective work.”

“I’m not sure the real evidence exists to say that they’re working here less than they were before,” Sommer said.

“There was no poll to know how many students were working in our old building. According to our Faculty, just as many students are working in the studio now.”

He also noted that studio spaces in the current building have more floor space than in the previous building but acknowledged that the “change is one that not all the students welcome.”

Suggesting solutions to the problems of acoustics and privacy, Sommer recommended students go to the libraries, fabrication labs, and the main hall.

The feasibility of these suggested solutions

In response to Sommer’s suggestion for graduate students seeking silence to work in non-studio spaces, Johnston agreed that it made sense for non-modeling work. “The library is definitely more private, and it’s totally an option for the students to go. I think that’s good.”

But for the construction of models, Johnston noted that “if you want to build a model in a quiet place, you can’t really go to the library to do that. I mean, it’s kind of weird, right?”

“All of our materials are here, we can’t store anything in the library,” added Sani. “We can’t go back and forth. Everything gets messy. So you want your desk to be where you want to build your models and store everything.”

As an alternative, Sani said an expansion of workshop space would be useful. “I think a workshop would be a much better space for modelling than a library,” she said. “A library is for writing essays, and papers, and researching – it’s not really meant for building models.”

While all three graduate students interviewed in the open studio spaces preferred the collaborative environment more than the previous individual environment, they still believe that the space could be improved.

“Working in the studio space means you get a lot of feedback from other students and things like that,” said Johnston. “The great thing about it being as open as it is, I think what they’re trying to do is encourage collaboration.”

“The problem with that was how it was a smaller room, with a lower ceiling. It just felt like an office,” Sani added.

“The good thing is that it’s open, you get to interact a lot with people, you get to see what other students are doing — I love that about this space, but at the same time, there’s no privacy,” Sani said. “So I think it has to be something in between.”

Sommer added that it is an “incredible privilege” for Daniels graduate students to have their own space, but acknowledged that the changes in the new building are ones that “not all students welcome.”

When asked whether the form of the building achieves the function of encouraging collaboration, Sommer said that “for the most part, yes. We could get it better. But for the most part, it was conceived for this.”

Editor’s Note (November 1, 11:02 pm): This article has been updated to correct a mistake made in the editing process that misattributed a quote to Sommer.

Daniels students commute to classes off campus as One Spadina construction continues

Current classes hosted at Scotiabank Theatre

Daniels students commute to classes off campus as One Spadina construction continues

Although the new home for the John H. Daniels Faculty of Landscape, Architecture and Design at One Spadina Crescent was slated to officially open this September, many second-year students in the faculty find themselves commuting to places far away from the location.

The students of Daniels courses ARC251, ARC252, ARC281 have been commuting to classes at the Scotiabank Theatre at John Street and Richmond Street, approximately a 23-minute walk from UTSG. While the theatre was occupied by TIFF during the first week of classes, the students were split between lecture locations at Chestnut Residence and a Cineplex theatre located at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue. These locations are a walking distance from UTSG of 20 minutes and 1 hour and 15 minutes, respectively.

Andrea McGee, Registrar and Assistant Dean at the Office of Student Services for the Daniels Faculty, told The Varsity that the faculty has been booking off-campus spaces to accommodate increased numbers of students in the Daniels undergraduate program. The current number of 1,000 students enrolled in the program is a significant increase from the program’s launch in 2012.

Although the Principal Hall at One Spadina has been designed to hold the growing student body, the hall is one of a few spaces at One Spadina that is still undergoing construction.

Despite the challenges posed by the alternate locations, McGee hopes that the temporary locations of these second-year courses allow Daniels students “to see different parts of the city and to incorporate that [perspective] into some of their classes.” She added that the students have been said to be “having a lot of fun with it,” and “they’re even talking about getting concession stands popcorn during class.”

For second-year student Jennille Neal, these new class locations are not as much of an adventure as they are an accessibility concern. Students have the option of walking the distance to the Scotiabank Theatre, taking the subway, or even taking a cab. “I have seen so many students being dropped off in cabs,” Neal said. “Who’s paying for our extra expenses for transit? We are. It’s coming out of our pockets.”

All three courses being held in the Scotiabank Theatre are required for Neal’s undergraduate program. “There is only one section and one spot,” Jennille explained, “so it’s not like I’m able to move them to next semester so that they’re in a different location.”

The Architectural and Visual Studies Students’ Union (AVSSU) presented a brief concerning the situation to the Office of the Vice-President & Provost on September 21. The document highlights that “the physical location of these classes pose a barrier [for Daniels students], especially those who cannot afford to take a two-way transit trip every week for twelve weeks.”

The brief expresses concern for students with accessibility needs who might be impacted by the long commute, as well as a worry for the months of bad weather when “students will likely have longer commuting times and… will have to face the elements with their graded oversized architectural models.”

Scott Markle, the Vice-President of Student Life at AVSSU, told The Varsity, “While I agree the ability to explore the city is a valued part of our architecture degree, there should be a precedent for a smoother transition between classes and spaces on campus.”

McGee believes that this situation will be repaid through opportunities offered by the new Daniels facility. In addition to studio space, the location will include an amphitheatre, digital fabrication laboratory, commons space, and a testing laboratory for green roof innovations. One Spadina covers over 100,000 square feet — twice the space available to the students and faculty at their former 230 College Street location.

McGee projects that students will be able to attend classes in Principal Hall starting in the winter semester. The AVSSU invites students to contact if they would like to express questions or concerns regarding any aspect of the transition to the One Spadina facility.

Suspect wanted in break-and-enter case at UTSG

Surveillance video and photos released to the public

Suspect wanted in break-and-enter case at UTSG

The Toronto Police Services and U of T Campus Police are asking for the public’s help identifying a man wanted for an ongoing break-and-enter investigation near the intersection of Spadina Avenue and Sussex Avenue.

A man was reported to have broken into Daniels Studio Commons in the early morning of July 26 and stolen two LED televisions. The Daniels Studio Commons, located on 665 Spadina Avenue, functions as a workspace for undergraduate architecture students.



The suspect was captured on security cameras wandering the building attempting to cover his face while searching for items of value. The man is described as having a thin build; medium, brown hair; and appears to be in his in his 30s. He was wearing a black T-shirt with a grey hat.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.