Nominations for student seats on Governing Council open

Eight student positions to be filled by election in February

Nominations for student seats on Governing Council open

The Office of Governing Council has made its annual call for student nominations, open to all students in full-time and part-time programs. Nominations opened on January 7 and close at 5:00 pm on January 18.

The eight student positions on Governing Council are an opportunity to become involved in the university’s most powerful decision-making body. If elected, members are expected to contribute to the future direction of the university.

Collectively, Governing Council is responsible for areas of the university such as strategic direction, finances, human resources, infrastructure, and academic quality.

Of the eight student spots, four are reserved for full-time undergraduate students, two for part-time students, and two for graduate students. Previous experience in student politics is not required.

To nominate someone or oneself, students are required to fill out a nomination form. Paper versions of this form can also be found at room 106 of Simcoe Hall. UTM and UTSC Campus Councils will also be holding nominations for their respective students.

The online voting period begins on February 4, and ballots will be counted and announced on February 19. Elected winners will be declared on February 22.

Governing Council membership underrepresents women, analysis of past 10 years show

Men make up majority of U of T’s highest governing body

Governing Council membership underrepresents women, analysis of past 10 years show

Governing Council is the highest governing body at the University of Toronto, passing policy that broadly affects the lives of students, faculty, and staff — but what does it look like? The Varsity looked into the gender breakdown for Governing Council going back 10 years and found an almost two-thirds majority of men on Governing Council across the tenure of two presidents.

Out of the 50 members that make up Governing Council, 30 are elected: 12 teaching staff, eight alumni, four full-time undergraduate students, two administrative staff, two graduate students, and two part-time students.

Of the other 20 members, 16 are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council, the representative of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and two are appointed by President Meric Gertler. The remaining two members are Gertler and U of T’s Chancellor Rose Patten. While historically all positions of Governing Council are filled, in recent years a few government appointee positions have been left empty.

Together, these members propose and pass policies that affect all members of the university community. Notably, Governing Council sets tuition, approves new programs, and passed the controversial smoking and university-mandated leave of absence policies.

Despite Governing Council’s wield over university operations, the members do not accurately reflect the makeup of U of T. Women are widely underrepresented filling about 37 per cent of seats on Governing Council on average. The 2018–2019 session of Governing Council had 29 men and 13 women, totalling a 30.95 per cent representation for women — the third lowest across 10 years. The year with the highest representation was 2011–2012, which saw 46.81 per cent of Governing Council positions filled by women. Representation of women dropped sharply in 2015–2016 from 41.67 per cent to 30 per cent.

In 2017, almost 20 per cent difference in the proportion of men to women on Governing Council when compared to the representation of students.

The representation on Governing Council, however, does match the statistics for academic staff and faculty. Women represent 36 per cent of full-time tenured or tenure-stream faculty, as well as 41 per cent of part-time and full-time academic staff.

Planning and Budget Committee recommends FitzGerald Building revitalization

Plans in place for former medicine, dentistry hub to host new administrative offices

Planning and Budget Committee recommends FitzGerald Building revitalization

Governing Council’s Planning and Budget Committee (PBC) has unanimously voted to recommend the transformation of the FitzGerald Building from hosting research labs to space for administrative office spaces. Following the PBC’s recommendation on January 10, the Report of the Project Planning Committee for FitzGerald Building Revitalization must still go through the Academic Board, Business Board, and Executive Committee for discussion, prior to receiving final approval from Governing Council on February 28.

The FitzGerald Building, located on 150 College Street, was vacated by the Faculty of Dentistry and the Faculty of Medicine in July. Both have since moved to new or renovated spaces on campus.

According to the report, the Faculty of Medicine had conducted studies that demonstrated “significant challenges and costs” to continued use of the building. Further, the report states that “there have not been any significant upgrades to the building infrastructure in many years, and the wet research space in particular has deteriorated.”

Constructed in 1927, the FitzGerald Building has heritage status, meaning that it cannot be demolished. According to Vice-President University Operations Scott Mabury, the refurbished building will only provide half the occupancy space that is available at the administration’s current 215 Huron Street location, “but it’s going to be a much better space to work in.”

Administrative offices, including Financial Services and Human Resources & Equity, operate at 215 Huron Street, which Mabury said the university hopes to replace with a “data sciences kind of building… that will house a number of researchers across the campus.”

If the report is approved by Governing Council, construction on the building will commence in May, with full operational occupancy expected by October 2020.

This was the second committee meeting this academic year. The initial second meeting, scheduled on October 31, had been cancelled. PBC Secretary Joan Griffin told The Varsity in mid-October that there was “no business to transact by the Committee during [that] cycle.”

Business Board approves smoke-free policy, real estate strategy

Smoke-free policy to move to Executive Committee for endorsement, real estate strategy to increase amenities

Business Board approves smoke-free policy, real estate strategy

The Business Board has voted to concur with the recommendation of the University Affairs Board (UAB) to enforce a smoking ban at U of T and to approve the university’s Four Corners Strategy in principle. These were two of the 14 items on the agenda for the board’s second meeting of the 2018–2019 academic year, held at Simcoe Hall on November 26.

As part of Governing Council, the Business Board is responsible for monitoring the cost-effectiveness of the university’s investments and for approving its business-related policies.

Smoke-free policy

The Business Board was the fourth stage of governance for the university’s proposed smoke-free policy, following recommendation by the UAB on November 19 and information sessions at the UTSC and UTM Campus Councils on November 20 and 21 respectively. The policy must now be endorsed and forwarded by Governing Council’s Executive Committee on December 4 and approved by Governing Council on December 13 in order to take effect.

Vice-President Human Resources & Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat presented the item to the board.

If approved by Governing Council, the smoke-free policy would ban most forms of smoking at the university’s three campuses effective January 1. Exceptions to the policy are Indigenous ceremonies and medical requirements.

The policy would not apply to the university’s three federated colleges — the University of St. Michael’s College, the University of Trinity College, and Victoria University.

“I’ve talked to all three head provosts and presidents of the federated universities. They all anticipate going the same direction, although they are working through their own governance processes with respect to it so they may not go at the same time. I expect they will also be using similar signage to that which we are using,” Hannah-Moffat said. She added that affiliated institutions “immediately proximate to [U of T] like Knox College… are going to adopt [their own smoke-free policies].”

“Enforcement of this policy will be first and foremost about educating our community and also talking to our community about the risks of second-hand smoke and the risks of smoking,” Hannah-Moffat added. The university will continue to provide staff, faculty, and students smoking cessation support.

All present voting assessors at the meeting voted in favour of the item, meaning that the board concurs with the approval passed by the UAB.

Real estate strategy

The board also unanimously approved the Four Corners Strategy. According to Vice-President University Operations Scott Mabury, the strategy has been in development for around four years. It will replace the existing real estate strategy implemented by the university in 2007 and act as a framework to guide the university when investing in new real estate projects.

“We’re calling this ‘Four Corners’ because we want it to cover all corners of the university, wherever they may be,” Mabury said. The strategy will be updated to include the university’s properties in the Huron-Sussex neighbourhood, as well as the land housing the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health that it bought last year. He added that the federated colleges will not be included, as “practically speaking, they run their [own] affairs.”

According to the report presented to the board, the strategy’s goals are “providing quality amenity spaces” and “generating financial returns directed to the operating fund through income of its improved properties.”

Mabury said that amenity spaces will include “innovation spaces, residential [spaces] to improve our ability to attract and retain our faculty and senior staff, [and] retail [spaces] to enliven and engage more effectively with the surrounding city as well as provide services for the academic community.”

A main goal is to expand available housing to faculty members, staff, and students. Mabury cited the graduate student waiting list of over 1,000 and the loss of senior staff and faculty due to a lack of available housing. “The goal here is to [make] the residential side respond — and it’s a dynamic situation and it’s not constant where that demand is.”

Other items

The in camera session comprised of the quarterly list of donations of $250,000 or more, administrative assessors’ reports, compensation increases for various staff and faculty, and approval of the membership of the board’s Striking Committee.

Hannah-Moffat also presented the Human Resources & Equity Annual Report of 2017–2018 and the Report on Employment Equity of 2017–2018, which include the university’s initiatives to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Proposed smoking ban one step closer to full approval after passing at University Affairs Board

Ban described as “educative” over disciplinary, few details on enforcement

Proposed smoking ban one step closer to full approval after passing at University Affairs Board

The University Affairs Board (UAB) voted to pass the smoking ban at its November 19 meeting, moving the policy one step closer to full approval at the next Governing Council meeting on December 13. Cigarettes, cannabis, and vaping will all be covered in this ban, but certain smoking areas will be designated in the interim.

One area of concern that many attendees raised during the meeting was how the ban would be enforced. Vice-President Human Resources & Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat said that the ban would be primarily an educative policy, not a disciplinary one.

A primary focus of the policy is to address the issue of secondhand smoke, and the effects it can have on students, even ones who don’t smoke.

University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Vice-President University Affairs Josh Grondin agreed that the policy was a step in the right direction, but urged the UAB to take more time to review this policy.

Last week, Grondin created an online forum where students can give feedback on the smoking ban. One major concern that students had, according to Grondin, was its effect on marginalized students.

Many people were concerned that Campus Police would target students by their ethnicity. Grondin also pointed out that many students smoke cigarettes or cannabis as a stress reliever, and vaping should not be dismissed as an alternative to cigarettes.

Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS) Vice-President Internal Susan Froom also had many concerns about the policy.

She pointed out that the UTSU, APUS, and possibly many workers’ unions had not been consulted about the policy, and recommended that Governing Council take more time to review areas in which the policy could be improved.

She also pointed out that the designated smoking areas at UTM and UTSC were few and far between, and that students and workers may have to walk up to a kilometre just to smoke. These concerns were also raised at the UTM and UTSC Campus Council meetings.

The next stage of approval will be at the Business Board meeting on November 26.

Governing Council addresses allegations of bullying, harassment in one academic unit

October meeting included report from President Gertler on municipal elections, free speech, smoking policy

Governing Council addresses allegations of bullying, harassment in one academic unit

U of T administration has opened an investigation into several allegations of bullying, harassment, and academic and professional misconduct at the university, which were brought to the attention of the Office of the Ombudsperson by current and former students.

At the Governing Council meeting on October 25, which was the first full meeting this year after the September date was interrupted by a protester, Ombudsperson Ellen Hodnett said that multiple people had contacted her over the previous year about “very serious systemic issues” occurring within a single academic unit.

According to her report, several of the allegations also concerned external institutions that partner with the university.

“After I brought the issues to the attention of senior administration, an internal investigation was launched by the Provost’s office,” Hodnett wrote. “I periodically requested and received progress updates. As of this writing, the issues remain unresolved.”

When reached by The Varsity, U of T declined to provide further details. “We can’t provide details at this time as the matter is under investigation,” a spokesperson said, “We are conducting a thorough investigation and we are waiting for the results of that work.”

An “academic unit” can mean virtually anything at U of T, ranging from the three campuses, to various faculties, departments, or colleges.

The ombudsperson also noted that despite having an established process to deal with complaints about university staff, U of T does not have a process for faculty-student relations, adding that students who make allegations against a specific professor “may be left under the supervision of the professors, while an investigation (which can take many months) is undertaken.”

She also wrote, “I recommend that the University implement measures to protect the students from real or perceived threats while the investigation is underway,” noting that these measures are important given the power imbalance between faculty and students, as well as the negative psychological impact of bullying.

Hodnett also noted that although she understands an investigation — and particularly finding an investigator — can take time, the allegations are serious enough in nature to warrant a more expedient process.

“I am concerned about the need for complaints of this nature to be responded to in an expeditious fashion, given the impact on all parties, and students in particular,” she said. “There may be ways to make the process more efficient.”

Report from the president

U of T President Meric Gertler also presented his report at the meeting, noting the results of the recent municipal elections in which many of the winners are U of T alumni, including environmental geoscientist Jennifer McKelvie, who defeated incumbent Councillor Neethan Shan in Ward 25 Scarborough—Rouge Park.

He also mentioned that U of T continued to be placed highly on international university rankings.

In addition, Gertler brought up the Ford government’s requirement that every postsecondary institution in Ontario develop a free speech policy.

The president said that the university’s existing policy, effective since 1992, already meets all of the requirements. He noted, however, that there are new “wrinkles,” including the requirement to report annually on their progress to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

The administration also spoke about the new campus smoking policy. Scott Mabury, U of T’s Vice-President University Operations, said that the university is developing a new policy that would make all campuses smoke-free, with a target of January 1 for full implementation.

How to report workplace harassment if you’re a U of T student

Examining how workplace harassment, sexual harassment are handled by the university

How to report workplace harassment if you’re a  U of T student

Students who work for the university are not immune to workplace harassment. To combat the problem, Governing Council’s Policy with Respect to Workplace Harassment provides guidelines on how students can file complaints in the event that they experience harassment at work.

The policy provides student and faculty employees of the university with three options for filing complaints: victims can either contact their human resources office, their union, or their supervisor. If the grievance is against the supervisor, the complainant can go to a senior-level department member. The policy also instructs victims to contact the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre.

Elizabeth Church, a U of T spokesperson, said that it is “hard to generalize [the complaint process] because it depends on the nature of the case, so the next steps and consequences would be decided based on the general nature of the case.”

Church explained that apart from contacting one’s supervisor, the university has “13 divisional human resource offices, that all employees… including student employees, have access to. They can contact those offices if they have concerns, or to get information, or to access support.”

Church added, “In most cases, student employees are also covered by one or more collective agreements, [which] have provisions with respect to workplace harassment and complaints.” Students also have the ability to contact the Equity Office to learn more about the ways that they can deal with issues of harassment relating to discrimination.

In January 2017, U of T also implemented the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, which applies to all members of the U of T community.

Individuals can report incidents of sexual harassment to their campus’ Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre.

The policy gives the university the jurisdiction to commence an official investigation into the incident. A complainant may request no investigation, but the university may choose to proceed with one anyway, in accordance with its responsibility to the safety of the community.

Investigations will allow both the complainant and respondent to submit statements detailing the alleged assault, although the complainant can choose not to participate. Complainants will also have the option of being referred to support services and receiving academic accommodations.

However, reporting incidents relies on the victim, as the policy explains that simply disclosing information about a sexual assault to a member of staff does not constitute reporting.

All incidents must be brought to the support centre if the complainant wishes to move forward.

This policy allowed U of T to meet the requirements of Bill 132, which was put forth by the government of Ontario in 2016 and addresses sexual assault and harassment in the workplace and on university campuses.

Bill 132 states that universities must have sexual assault policies that explain how they will respond to complaints.

In her 2015 action plan, former premier Kathleen Wynne addressed the power dynamics and deep-rooted misogyny embedded within sexual violence. She called on the importance of improving the safety of postsecondary campuses, saying that “assault and harassment are too prevalent and often go unreported and unchecked.”

The imbalance of power is especially important in the context of students employed in university positions, where they often work alongside individuals of higher standing. Statistics Canada reported that sexual assault was the least reported violent crime in the country in 2014, in part, because victims were worried about the perception of sexual assault as unimportant.

Acknowledging the imbalances of power between students and their employer may help dispel students’ fear that reporting could cost them their position or reputation.

Business Board releases reports on investments, endowment, capital projects

Investment returns fall short of targets, endowment increases $124 million from last year

Business Board releases reports on investments, endowment, capital projects

The Business Board of U of T’s Governing Council held its first meeting of the 2018–2019 academic year on October 9. Among the 18 items discussed at Simcoe Hall were a semi-annual update on investment performance, the annual endowment financial report for the previous academic year, and the status of capital projects costing over $2 million.

Comprised of 41 members, the Business Board is responsible for monitoring the cost-effectiveness of the university’s investments and for approving its business policies.

Semi-annual report on investment performance

The semi-annual report on investment performance was presented by Darren Smith, the President and Chief Investment Officer of the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation (UTAM). UTAM is responsible for managing the university’s pension funds, endowment pool, and Expendable Funds Investment Pool (EFIP). The assets in these profiles total just under $10 billion.

All three portfolios’ actual returns have underperformed against the university’s targets since the start of 2018. The actual returns for pension and endowment portfolios were 2.2 per cent each, against their 3.1 per cent targets. The actual return for the EFIP was 0.9 per cent against a 1.1 per cent target. Smith attributed this to “an unfavourable capital market environment.”

Over a one-year basis and a five-year basis, UTAM’s actual returns for all three portfolios have outperformed target returns.

Smith believes that in the next five to 10 years, outperforming targets will be more challenging. “We’re very thoughtful about the current market environment,” he said. “Frankly, we’ve been surprised over the incredible run we’ve seen over the last couple of years. We keep expecting that markets will cool off, and that will happen at some point.”

Sheila Brown, U of T’s Chief Financial Officer and a UTAM board member, added, “It is our expectation that when the markets go down, we will go down with them.” She said that the Business Board should focus on UTAM’s long-term assets and positions when the markets go down. “[This is] an important lesson for us to keep in mind collectively as we go through what will inevitably be a downturn in the market that I think everyone is sitting waiting for.”

Annual endowment financial report

U of T currently has over 6,260 individual endowment funds totalling $2.5 billion market value, an increase of $124 million from the 2017 report. Of the $124 million increase, $39 million is from endowed donations, $14 million is from the university’s unrestricted funds, and $181 million is from investment income. There is a $25 million deduction for fees and expenses and an $85 million allocation for spending.

Each endowment has its own terms and conditions, which define the parameters of how the funds should be allocated and/or invested, as well as how the investment returns may be spent. For “the donated funds themselves and the funds that are designated as endowments, we cannot spend that original capital — we can only spend the investment return,” said Brown.

Scholarships constitute a large portion of the endowment funds, but in some cases, particularly due to tuition rates rising faster than the inflation rate, they may no longer able to provide adequate financial support. According to David Palmer, U of T’s Vice-President of Advancement, U of T’s “policies preserve purchasing power of endowments relative to the original gift, not to the purpose.”

Capital projects

There are currently 95 buildings across all three campuses under design and construction, totalling over $1.4 billion in costs. The 88 UTSG projects total $823,882,204; the four UTSC projects $279,563,702; and the three UTM projects $300,757,155.

Scott Mabury, U of T’s Vice-President of Operations, highlighted U of T’s commitment to increased energy efficiency. “We’ve made a pledge to be 37 per cent below our 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2030. When we did that, there was a thing called cap and trade in Ontario that said that was the law. It seemed like a safe commitment for the president to make. You understand how that has changed.”

Mabury said that seeking more energy efficient projects is “the right thing to do from a philosophical, from a practical, from an environment, and from an energy cost perspective… we don’t pay as much, so there’s an economic return.”

In camera items discussed include labour agreements between the university and both the Carpenters and Allied Workers, Local 27 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 353. Mabury also updated the board on a “forthcoming capital initiative at the Toronto Waterfront,” which may refer to the university’s partnership with MaRS to lease 24,000 square feet of the Waterfront Innovation Centre.

— With files from Matias Gutierrez