U of T still awaiting final guidelines on Student Choice Initiative

University Affairs Board passes fee increases for Student Life, KPE, Hart House

U of T still awaiting final guidelines on Student Choice Initiative

In anticipation of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), Vice-Provost Students Sandy Welsh gave some of the first comments on the university’s progress on the issue at the University Affairs Board (UAB) meeting for March. The UAB also passed fee increases for Campus Life incidental fees, which include those for Student Life, the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE), and Hart House.

As the Senior Assessor, Welsh reported that the university is currently waiting on the provincial government to provide more details on the SCI before any determination of essential and non-essential fees can be made.

The SCI is the provincial government’s plan to implement opt-out options for “non-essential” student fees, which could see many student clubs and services lose a significant portion of their funding.

Welsh brought up the current loose guidelines given for determining which fees are essential, showing a slide from a presentation made by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (TCU). The full presentation was obtained by The Varsity in early February and includes enforcement and rollout guidelines for the SCI.

The slide, titled “The Ancillary Fee Classification Framework,” listed athletics and recreation, career services, health and counselling, academic support, student ID cards, transcripts and convocation processes, financial aid offices, walksafe programs, student buildings and centres, and student transit passes as essential. Health and dental plans will also remain essential fees, while those with outside coverage can continue to opt out, which is in line with the current system for U of T.

Susan Froom, the UAB member representing part-time students, urged the university and Welsh to categorize as many fees as possible as essential.

Froom also raised concerns about how the SCI could impact Student Life, which provides services that could be categorized as non-essential, such as the Multi-Faith Centre, the Family Care Office, and the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office. Welsh replied that the university and her office do not have enough information about the classification process to provide further information, and are awaiting the final details from the provincial government.

Welsh also did not rule out the university centralizing or otherwise subsidizing impacted student societies when asked by another member of the UAB.

In a statement to The Varsity, TCU Ministry Issues Coordinator Ciara Byrne wrote that Minister Merrilee Fullerton had heard concerns from “many post-secondary students” about mandatory fees and that guidelines for the SCI would be released to institutions “shortly.”

The UAB also approved a 4.8 per cent increase for Student Life fees charged to full-time UTSG students, who will pay $164.24, an increase of $7.52 from this year. All fee increases must continue to move through the governance process and be passed by Governing Council before taking effect.

Senior Director of Student Experience David Newman also reported on Student Life, whose accessibility and Health & Wellness services would be considered essential. Newman explained that the administration would try to decrease reliance on student fees for Student Life programs and services, as additional staff had been hired this year.

The UAB also passed a $4.82, or 2.55 per cent, increase for KPE co-curricular programs, services, and facilities. Full-time students would pay $193.82 for services like U of T Sports & Rec, the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, Athletic Centre, Varsity Centre, and the David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic.

Pending approval by Governing Council, students could see a fee increase for Hart House of $8.56, a 9.57 per cent increase totalling to $97.96.

John Monahan, Warden of Hart House, reported to the board that Hart House was preparing for its centennial celebration and would use the funds for continuing renovations in the Arbor Room, replacing the pool skylight, and increasing security.

U of T acknowledges criticism of late UTSG class cancellations at Governing Council meeting

Council approves FitzGerald Building Revitalization funding, Gertler says Boundless campaign could fund additional student aid

U of T acknowledges criticism of late UTSG class cancellations at Governing Council meeting

University officials addressed recent criticisms about U of T’s policies on closing campuses during inclement weather at a Governing Council meeting held on February 28 at UTM.

In response to a question from graduate student member Sandhya Mylabathula, U of T Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr acknowledged recent criticisms about the multiple late closures of UTSG in the last few weeks, saying that there will be new considerations taken when assessing whether or not to close the campus.

Regehr is involved in determining UTSG’s status under adverse weather conditions alongside other university administrators.

Regehr also emphasized that Robarts Library will always be open 24 hours, even during harsh weather, adding that students could stay overnight during snowstorms.

The university has also hired additional staff, said Regehr, with current staff already working overtime to keep streets and entrances clear.

Vice-Provost Academic Operations Scott Mabury, who oversees operations to clear snow, assured the council that 350 workers should have entrances cleared by 9:00 am.

Building projects, Gertler’s report

Governing Council also approved funding for the FitzGerald Building Revitalization project, which would revamp the building to make it more efficient. Construction would start in May 2019, with occupancy expected by October 2020, though demolition and hazardous waste removal is slated to happen this month.

According to the project report, it currently costs around $50 per gross square metre to operate the building, and post-renovations should cost around $10 per gross square metre.

President Meric Gertler, who presented a report at the beginning of the meeting, reaffirmed the university’s access guarantee — which states that financial standing should not affect a student’s ability to attend U of T — and noted that contributions to the Boundless campaign could also be used to firm up student aid, in light of the cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

Seven students win seats on Governing Council

Results conclude elections for U of T’s highest governing body

Seven students win seats on Governing Council

Seven students have won seats on Governing Council, after an elections season that saw 39 candidates vie to represent students on U of T’s most powerful administrative body.

Out of Governing Council’s 50 members, there are eight seats available to students, spread across five different constituencies. One of the seats for Part-time Undergraduate Students was not filled as not enough candidates ran in that election. 

Yining (Elin) Gu and Apefa Adjivon won the race to represent the constituency of full-time undergraduate students of the Faculty of Arts & Science, UTM, and UTSC.

Gu, a UTSC student, received 371 votes and Adjivon, a University College student, received 303 votes. Twenty-one candidates ran for this constituency.

Representing the constituency of full-time undergraduate students of the Professional Faculties will be Mallory Estelle Jackman and Andrew Girgis.

Jackman is a Medicine student and received 104 votes, while Girgis is a Pharmacy student and 97 votes. A total of five candidates ran from this constituency.

Susan Froom, a Trinity College student, will represent the constituency of Part-time Undergraduate Students. She won uncontested, with the second seat available for this constituency unfulfilled. Froom has served in this position since the 2014–2015 academic year.

LP Veuilleux, a Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy student, won the seat to represent Constituency I of graduate students with 159 votes. Seven candidates from this constituency ran for a seat.

Amin Kamaleddin, a Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering student, won the race to represent Constituency II of graduate students with 338 votes. Five candidates ran from this constituency.

The university released election results on February 19, following its call for nominations in January and its election this month.

Editor’s Note (February 21, 5:10 pm): The article has been updated to correct that there are eight seats available to students and one of them remains unfilled.

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.