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The Breakdown: How will TA finances change this year?

Provincial government changes spell out an uncertain future for teaching assistants

The Breakdown: How will TA finances change this year?

The provincial government has introduced and passed multiple controversial bills this past year that will affect teaching assistants (TAs) at U of T. Notably, changes to tuition and financial aid structuring and a proposed salary increase cap are a cause for concern. 

TAs at U of T are upper-year undergraduate or graduate students who lead tutorials, grade assignments, and supervise labs. All are unionized under the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 3902. These positions are integral to university classes, and the coming changes have left some with concerns about the long-term impact of the Ford government’s policies.

Tuition and financial aid changes

The Ford government slashed domestic tuition by 10 per cent for all colleges and universities across Ontario for the 2019–2020 academic year — U of T is expected to have an $88 million reduction in revenue compared to the original projections. While TA salaries and hours will likely not be impacted since union agreements guarantee a set of conditions, there is a growing worry about job availability. 

Individual departments at the university will be the ones to determine budgeting decisions, including job postings, based on their priorities.

Because of the inherent precarious nature of TAships, many workers choose to juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet. In an interview with The Varsity, Jess Taylor, Chair of CUPE 3902, said that “those additional contracts that people kind of need to be able to afford to live [are] what I’m worried about. I’m worried that there will just be fewer jobs posted as departments start to feel the pinch.” 

Further financial strains will be placed on other TAs due to recent changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program. While in previous years independent students, who are eligible for more funding, were defined as those who were out of high school for four or more years, the new guidelines increased the time to six years. This means that a master’s student who entered university right after finishing high school is still considered dependent on their family’s finances. Furthermore, the adjustment of the grant-to-loan ratio will mean that students will receive fewer grants than before.

When asked about possible support avenues for graduate students, Heather Boon, Vice-Provost Faculty & Academic Life, noted that the university “remain[s] committed” to assisting students. U of T plans to spend $247 million on student aid for this academic year, in part thanks to the Boundless campaign, and is also offering financial advising and short-term financial assistance specifically for graduate students.

Public-sector salary increase cap

The provincial government is on track to pass its contentious Bill 124, or the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act. The bill, first introduced this past June, would place a one per cent cap on pay raises and inclusive benefits for public sector employees across Ontario, TAs included. 

According to Kendall Smith, a representative from the Treasury Board Secretariat of Ontario, the bill is meant to “manage compensation growth in a way that allows for reasonable wage increases while also respecting taxpayers and the services they rely upon.”

Taylor expressed her concern about the bill passing, noting that it would cause employees to lose money over time since the cap is lower than the usual rate of inflation. 

The collective agreement of Unit 1 of CUPE, which TAs fall under, is set to expire at the end of 2020. If passed, the bill will apply to any new agreement.

The Breakdown: The CFS–Ontario’s legal challenge against the Student Choice Initiative

Levy-funded student union claims Ford government is overstepping autonomy of student groups

The Breakdown: The CFS–Ontario’s legal challenge against the Student Choice Initiative

The Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS–O), along with the York Federation of Students, launched a legal challenge against the Ontario government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI) back in May. 

The SCI, originally announced in January by Merrilee Fullerton, the former Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU), was part of a broad set of changes to postsecondary funding that requires universities to provide an opt-out option to students for non-essential incidental fees. 

Postsecondary institutions are required to implement the opt-out option for the upcoming fall semester or face a possible reduction in funding. U of T’s online opt-out system for non-essential incidental fees is live on ACORN, in compliance with the Ontario government’s guidelines.

In an email to The Varsity, Tanya Blazina, Team Lead, Issues Management and Media Relations for the MTCU, wrote, “as this matter is now before the courts, it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.”

The legal challenge

“The government, particularly, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities doesn’t have the authority to impose a policy upon the memorandum of understanding between the student unions and the college and university administrations,” the National Executive Representative for the CFS–O, Kayla Weiler, said to the The Varsity in an interview.

Weiler also added that the collection and remittance of student society fees is determined democratically through student referenda and covered in the memorandum of understanding between the university administration and student associations.

Citing section seven of the Ontario College of Applied Arts and Technology Act, Weiler accused the provincial government of undermining the autonomy of student organizations through the SCI, which inhibits the ability of student governing bodies to collect fees. 

In addition, Weiler added that Fullerton misled students to believe that they would be able to save money by opting out of incidental fees, as the highest fees are still considered mandatory. 

At U of T, undergraduate Arts & Science students can opt-out of about 10 per cent of their total incidental fees, totalling around $50 to $70 depending on their college and campus.

What now?

In an interview with The Varsity, Nelson Wiseman, Director of the Canadian Studies Program and Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, expressed doubts about the CFS–O winning their legal challenge.

“My impression is that the students are going to lose this case.” 

However, Wiseman also added that the courts can make unexpected decisions, citing a judge in September that blocked Premier Doug Ford’s reduction of the Toronto City Council.

Multiple student organizations, including the University of Toronto Students’ Union and multiple college and student societies have also responded to the SCI by forming the ChooseUofT campaign at the St. George campus.

The Breakdown: U of T’s policy on reporting suicides

Policy is nebulous, with official responses differing case-to-case

The Breakdown: U of T’s policy on reporting suicides

Content warning: mentions of suicide.

In what is being described as a mental health crisis at U of T, students have protested the administration’s handling of suicides on campus and its perceived lack of support and mental health services. The Varsity looked into how U of T tracks information about student deaths on campus and the university’s policy on acknowledging suicides.

Campus Police at UTSG reported three attempted suicides or deaths in 2017 and one in 2016, only accounting for on-campus incidents. The 2018 report has not yet been released.

For U of T, the decision to notify staff and students is determined by the Office of the Vice-Provost Students and the affected faculty, according to Elizabeth Church, U of T spokesperson.

In an email to The Varsity, Church wrote that the university does not confirm the identity of deceased students without the permission of the student’s family. She also confirmed that U of T “may acknowledge” the death and identity of a student if released by Toronto Police or other official channels.

The 2017 Student Health and Well-Being at the University of Toronto report, which surveyed 4,752 students, revealed that at least 12 per cent of respondents, or 570 students, have either contemplated or attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

Besides national surveys and Campus Police reports, the university does not publish any other information on suicides on campus.

A Toronto Star report from 2017 found that most universities release statements on student deaths, but rarely release the student’s name and almost never acknowledge the cause of death. The Public Health Agency of Canada told the Star that statistics collected by institutions on suicide are necessary to fully inform prevention efforts and policies.


If you or someone you know is in distress, you can call:

  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service phone available 24/7 at 1-833-456-4566
  • Good 2 Talk Student Helpline at 1-866-925-5454
  • Ontario Mental Health Helpline at 1-866-531-2600
  • Gerstein Centre Crisis Line at 416-929-5200
  • U of T Health & Wellness Centre at 416-978-8030.

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. If you suspect someone you know may be contemplating suicide, you should talk to them, according to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

The Breakdown: A timeline of OSAP

How the popular financial support program came to be

The Breakdown: A timeline of OSAP

The provincial government announced large-scale changes to university and college tuition frameworks and the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) on January 17.

Notably, the non-needs-based component of the Ontario Student Grant for OSAP recipients will be removed. While students receiving OSAP previously had a six-month grace period before charging interest, under the new plan, interest will be charged immediately after students end their full-time studies. However, the six-month period will remain.

Students will also have the option to opt-out of non-essential campus fees, which is sparking concern from universities, student groups, and student media.

The provincial government’s justification for these decisions was to combat an “unsustainable” system, to “reduce complexity for students,” and to prioritize lower-income students.

Here is a breakdown of OSAP — why it was created, how it has evolved, and what led up to the Progressive Conservative government’s changes.

What is OSAP?

OSAP was established under the Canadian Student Loans Program. The federal government partnered with Ontario and New Brunswick in 1999 to “harmonize” financial aid for students in those provinces.  

Currently, the program is administered by Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to assist students in paying for tuition, school supplies, required student fees, living expenses, and childcare for students with children.

Students who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or “protected persons” residing in Ontario can apply for OSAP.

Before 2016, one third of student aid was through non-repayable grants and two-thirds of aid was in repayable loans.

Changes under Premier Kathleen Wynne

Under the former Liberal government, OSAP received a significant redesign. Beginning in September 2017, students whose parents earn $50,000 or less were eligible for free tuition. Students who were out of high school for four years or more were eligible for free tuition if they earned $30,000 or less.

‘Free tuition’ meant that students received funding that was equal to or more than the actual tuition for a university undergraduate arts and science program, a college diploma program, or the average tuition for a high-cost university or college program such as engineering or computer science.

Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals also merged multiple OSAP grants — the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant, the Ontario Access Grant, the Ontario Child Care Bursary, the Ontario Student Opportunity Grant, and the Ontario Distance Grants — into one single grant “to help with education costs when they are incurred.” However, some grants did remain separate, including the Indigenous Student Bursary and Bursary for Students with Disabilities.

Under this OSAP framework, students received “base” funding depending on their family income and “needs-base” funding calculated by a student’s financial need.  

In the 2018 Provincial Budget, Wynne’s government once again expanded OSAP to offer more grants and loans for married and middle-income students.

Wynne’s OSAP changes were estimated to cost taxpayers $650 million more than the former system.

Auditor General report

Last December, Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released her annual report examining a number of provincial programs, including OSAP.

In her report, Lysyk concluded that, while 24 per cent more university students and 27 per cent more college students were receiving OSAP, enrolment rose by merely one per cent for universities and two per cent for colleges.

“We concluded that a large portion of new OSAP recipients were already attending college or university — and paying for it by themselves or with loans — even before they qualified for the new aid,” Lysyk said when the report came out.

However, because the program was only one year old, Lysyk said people should be cautious before making “long-term” assumptions. “But it certainly bears watching,” Lysyk added.

The report stated that OSAP would cost nearly $2 billion per year by 2020–2021 — 50 per cent more expensive than originally planned.

The Breakdown: A look into the Canadian Federation of Students’ National General Meeting agenda

NGM to address mental health, Israel-Palestine conflict, budgetary concerns

The Breakdown: A look into the Canadian Federation of Students’ National General Meeting agenda

Motions from the National Executives and various student unions are on the agenda for the Canadian Federation of Students’ (CFS) 37th National General Meeting (NGM) on November 16.

The CFS represents 64 postsecondary student unions across Canada, including five at U of T: the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), the Scarborough Campus Student Union, the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students, and the Graduate Students’ Union.

The organization’s goals are to lobby for university and college students at the provincial and federal level and to create accessible postsecondary education.

The organization has a marred history with the UTSU — in 2017, half of the union’s executives signed a statement supporting decertification from the CFS. Following that, last year’s UTSU hired students in a campaign to hold a referendum on membership in the federation. The current UTSU executive team was also elected on a platform supporting a referendum on membership.

Aftermath of BC unions expulsions

After expelling 12 student unions from British Columbia in June over a membership fees disagreement, a motion by the National Executives seeks to submit budget amendments and to hold a smaller June NGM. The proposed NGM would be a two-day meeting with a maximum of one delegate registration per local. Recent NGMs occurred across four days with multiple delegate registration/s per local.

The motion cite the expulsion of the BC unions as the cause of a “new financial reality.”

In addition to the fact that the June NGM plenary adopted a budget with expenses for only one general meeting, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act also prohibits the exclusion of the June NGM leading the National Executives to seek such changes.

Another special motion seeks to change the bylaws to allow for the election of constituency representatives at the upcoming NGM.

Adding votes

A motion from the College of the North Atlantic Students’ Union (CNASU) proposes splitting up the union’s one vote into four, citing the fact that it has 17 campuses each with different “needs and views.”

The votes would be given to Eastern CNASU, Central CNASU, Western CNASU, and Labrador CNASU.

They point to examples of other schools in Newfoundland and Labrador doing this as precedence.

$1,000 to political podcast

In a motion proposed by the now-expelled Selkirk College Students’ Union and the UTMSU, the CFS would donate $1,000 to a podcast co-hosted by Nora Loreto.

Loreto, as mentioned in the motion, made controversial tweets following the deaths of Humboldt Bronco hockey players in April.

The motion reads, “Without questioning the tragedy of the death of the amateur hockey players or the support for their families, independent journalist and former Federation activist Nora Loreto made an arguably innocuous comment about the radicalized, gendered nature of grief.”

The motion further gives the “highly sophisticated political attack due to her straight forward assessment of the nature of public discourse regarding grief” as reasoning for the $1,000 donation.

The Sandy & Nora Talk Politics podcast is co-hosted by Sandra Hudson, the former UTSU Executive Director who settled a lawsuit with the union last year.

Mental health policies

A motion submitted by the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design calls for the CFS to adopt a policy that supports the provision and funding of mental health services for students by universities. The motion specifically opposes any institution’s use of a mandatory leave of absence policy, particularly ones that would force students to leave residence.   

Since June, U of T has implemented a controversial mandated leave of absence policy that places students on a non-punitive leave if their mental health is deemed to be negatively affecting their grades, or is considered a danger to themselves or others.

Condemnation of the occupation of Palestine

Citing university institutions that invest in weapons manufacturers supporting what it calls “War Crimes globally and within Israel,” the York Federation of Students submitted a motion for the CFS to oppose the “ongoing occupation of Palestine.”

The motion calls for the CFS to support “boycotts, divestments, and sanctions [campaigns].”

The Breakdown: 2018 UTSU Annual General Meeting

UTSU/UTMSU Membership Agreement, Doug Ford, election reform on agenda

The Breakdown: 2018 UTSU Annual General Meeting

The University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) Annual General Meeting (AGM) — the union’s largest gathering of the year — will be held on October 30 in Walter Hall. The meeting is open to all UTSU members and is a chance for members to direct their questions or concerns to their union representatives. In advance of the AGM, The Varsity looks into how the meeting will be structured and how students can participate.

The UTSU’s membership includes full-time undergraduate students at the St. George and Mississauga campuses, and students in professional faculties, the Toronto School of Theology, the Transitional Year Program, and those on a Professional Experience Year Co-op.

The meeting is conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, a manual of parliamentary procedure, and will begin with a presidential address from UTSU President Anne Boucher, followed by an executive question period.

In order for the meeting to begin, a quorum has to be met with 75 members. Out of this, 50 members must be physically present while the remainder may be through proxies. A proxy vote is when a member appoints another member to act as their representative through a proxy form. The deadline for proxying a vote was October 21.

The standout item on the agenda is the endorsement of the separation of the UTSU and University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU).

The UTSU and UTMSU began renegotiations on their Associate Membership Agreement (AMA) in January. Talks broke down, and in September the UTSU’s Ad Hoc Negotiations Committee formally recommended terminating the AMA.

Ratification of the separation can occur in one of two ways. The first is a three-quarters majority vote at a joint meeting of the UTSU and UTMSU Board of Directors and a three-quarters majority vote at the AGM between the UTSU and UTMSU board members and executives. The second is a two-thirds majority vote at a joint meeting, and a simple majority referendum across both campuses.

Also on the agenda are resolutions submitted by members, which will be introduced by Vice-President Operations Tyler Biswurm. Of note is a resolution for the UTSU to “go on record as opposing the Ontario government’s anti-democratic ‘free speech on campus’ mandate, and refuse to participate in its implementation.”

Premier Doug Ford’s campus free speech mandate requires student groups to comply with their university’s free speech policy. According to a press release on the Ontario government’s website, “institutions consider official student groups’ compliance with the policy as condition for ongoing financial support or recognition.”

If the resolution passes, the UTSU will refuse to abide by Ford’s policy after the January 1 deadline, and the Ontario government will have to determine whether U of T is violating the mandate and if provincial funding should be pulled.

Provincial funding made up 29 per cent of U of T’s operating funds last year.

Another motion proposed by a member is a discussion on amending the Elections Procedure Code of the UTSU. The amendment, which is pending approval at the general meeting, would prohibit cross-campaigning, or the ability of candidates to campaign for one another. This would eliminate slates from UTSU elections and each candidate would not be allowed to campaign for other candidates.

The AGM agenda and other information can be found on the UTSU’s website.

The Breakdown: Incidental fees for full-time undergraduate Arts & Science students

Looking into what your money goes to, where you can opt out

The Breakdown: Incidental fees for full-time undergraduate Arts & Science students

Among the issues that university students both love and hate to discuss, tuition often tops the list. But in paying for university, students are not just paying for the ability to go to class and receive a degree. Bundled up within the tuition fees are hundreds of dollars of non-academic incidental fees that all students pay, which give access to various services on campus, including health care, athletic facilities, and campus publications.

Some of these incidental fees are mandatory, but others include an opt-out option. The Varsity has put together a roundup of all the incidental fees that undergraduate Arts & Science students have to pay, including the ones that aren’t compulsory.

This article is based on numbers from the 2017–2018 school year, and it only refers to fees paid for the fall and winter sessions by full-time students. Some fees, including The Varsity’s, may have changed for the 2018–2019 school year. Visit thevarsity.ca for a more in-depth look.

Universal fees

Almost all students at U of T have four fees in common, though they may have varying amounts. These fees go toward U of T Community Radio, The Varsity, Hart House, and Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE) Co-Curricular Programs, Services, and Facilities. None of these fees have an opt-out option.

UTM Arts & Science

All undergraduate UTM students in the arts and science divisions pay 14 incidental fees, totalling $772.46 in the fall and winter sessions each.

UTM students pay six fees to access university-operated services. These include KPE Co-Curricular Programs, Services, and Facilities, as well as Physical Education & Athletics, Hart House, Health Service, Student Services, and Summer Shuttle Services.

Besides these universal fees, there are six fees for student societies: the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), The Medium, the U of T at Mississauga Athletics Council, Vibe Radio, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), and the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS).

UTM students belong to both the UTSU and the UTMSU — though the agreement is currently under negotiation — and thus have to pay fees to both. The largest of these fees goes toward the UTSU, at $196.32 in the fall and winter sessions each. The largest portion of the UTSU fee — $162.28 — pays for a health and dental plan, which students can opt out of.

Of the remaining amount, $5.57 is refundable.

UTSU Mississauga
Society $18.76
Radio $0.00
Blue SKy Solar Racing Car Team* $0.13
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) & CFS-Ontario $7.93
Day Care Subsidy* $0.50
Downtown Legal Services* $1.06
Foster Children Program $0.05
Health Initiatives in Developing Countries* $0.25
Orientation * $0.50
Radical Roots* $0.15
Student Refugee Program $0.71
UTM Sexual Education Centre* $1.00
UTM Women’s Centre* $1.00
Wheelchair Accessibility Projects $1.00
Women’s Centre* $0.50
UofT Environmental Resource Network* $0.50
Accident & Prescription Drug Insurance Plan** $88.39
Dental Plan** $73.89
Total $196.32

 

* indicates the fee is refundable.

** indicates the fee is refundable, with proof of comparable coverage.

The second highest student society fee is for the UTMSU, at $143.26 in the fall and winter sessions each. Of that amount, $108.28 pays for the U-Pass, and the rest of it goes toward various smaller groups, such as a food bank and the student refugee program.

The only refundable UTMSU fee is its $3.25 per session Blind Duck Pub fee.

UTMSU
Society $14.64
Student Centre Levy $12.50
On-Campus First Aid Emergency Response $0.55
Blind Duck Pub*** $3.25
Club Funding and Resources $1.26
Mississauga Transit Upass $108.28
Academic Societies $1.06
Food Bank $0.58
Student Refugee Program $1.14
Total $143.86

 

*** indicates the fee is refundable, on a per session basis.

UTSC Arts & Science

All undergraduate UTSC students in the arts and science divisions pay 12 incidental fees, totalling $839.22 in the fall and winter sessions each.

UTSC students pay five fees to access university-operated services. These include Hart House, Health Service, Student Services, the Scarborough College Athletic Fee, and KPE Co-Curricular Programs, Services, and Facilities.

Besides these universal fees, there are five fees for student societies: Scarborough Campus Students’ Council (SCSU), Scarborough College Athletic Association, Scarborough Campus Community Radio, and APUS, as well as Scarborough Campus Students’ Press, which publishes The Underground.

The largest of these fees goes toward the SCSU, at $410.24 in the fall and winter sessions each. Of that amount, $172.97 pays for a health and dental plan, which students can opt out of.

The second-highest amount pays for the UTSC Sports & Recreation Complex Levy, at $157.48 in the fall and winter sessions each. Of the remaining amount, $4.13 is refundable.

Parts of the SCSU fee goes toward various smaller groups and initiatives, such as a Wheelchair Accessibility Projects fund and a Foster Children Program fund.

SCSU
Society $26.38
Refugee Student Program $0.75
Student Centre $39.31
College Co-ed Fitness Centre $0.00
Women’s Centre* $1.50
Downtown Legal Services* $0.50
Orientation* $0.50
Blue Sky Solar Car Team* $0.13
Day Care Subsidy* $0.50
Wheelchair Accessibility Projects $1.00
Refugee Student Fund $0.30
Health Initiatives in Developing Countries* $0.25
Foster Children Program $0.05
UofT Enviornmental Resource Network* $0.25
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) & CFS-Ontatio $7.87
Frontier College Students for Literacy – UTSC $0.50
UTSC Sports and Recreation Levy $157.48
Accident & Prescription Drug Insurance Plan** $78.40
Dental Plan** $94.57
Total $410.24

 

* indicates the fee is refundable.

** indicates the fee is refundable, with proof of comparable coverage.

UTSG Arts & Science by college

Undergraduate students in arts and science programs at UTSG pay eight identical fees, plus one college specific fee.

The eight fees are for the UTSU, APUS, Arts & Science Students’ Union, U of T Community Radio, The Varsity, Hart House, Student Life Programs & Services, and KPE Co-Curricular Programs, Services, and Facilities. These fees total $652.18.

The largest of these fees goes toward the UTSU, at $410.24 for the fall and winter sessions. The largest portion of the UTSU fee — $172.97 — pays for a health and dental plan, which students can opt out of.

Of the remaining amount, $12.24 is refundable.

The UTSU fee pays for organizations and initiatives such as the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, the Sexual Education & Peer Counselling Centre, and the University of Toronto Aerospace Team.

UTSG Arts & Sciences
Society $26.38
Refugee Student Program $0.75
Student Centre $39.31
College Coed Fitness Centre $0
Women’s Centre* $1.50
Downtown Legal Services* $0.50
Orientation* $0.50
Blue SKy Solar Car Team* $0.13
Day Care Subsidy* $0.50
Wheelchair Accessibility Projects* $1.00
Refugee Student Fund $0.30
Health Initiatives in Developing Countries* $0.25
Foster Children Program $0.05
UofT Enviornmental Resource Network* $0.25
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) & CFS-Ontario $7.87
Frontier College Students for Literacy – UTSC $0.50
UTSC Sports & Recreation Complex Levy $157.48
Accident & Prescription Drug Insurance Plan** $78.40
Dental Plan** $94.57
Total $410.24

 

* indicates the fee is refundable.

** indicates the fee is refundable, with proof of comparable coverage.

Innis students pay $41.53 for the Innis College Student Society and the Innis College Student Services Fee.

New College students pay $30.00 for the New College Student Council.

University College students pay $30.03 for the University College Literary & Athletic Society.

Woodsworth students pay $7.50 for the Woodsworth College Students’ Association.

St. Michael’s College students pay $132.02 for the St. Michael’s College Student Union, The Mike, a College Fee, and a Campaign Fee.

Trinity students pay $216.13 for the Trinity College Meeting and a College Fee.

Victoria students pay $243.76 for the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council, the Victoria University Student Services Fee, Goldring Student Centre, and the Victoria Commuter Package.

Stay tuned for more breakdowns of graduate student and professional faculty student fees.

The Breakdown: Commuter resources on campus

Lounges, special dons, pancakes among commuter services

The Breakdown: Commuter resources on campus

Despite its large commuter population — over 75 per cent of U of T students identify as commuters — almost all students who commute more than an hour each way say they feel discouraged from participating in off-campus activities.

Considering the barriers that face commuter students, various colleges and student groups have created initiatives to support the needs of these commuter students and enhance their overall student experience on and off campus.

Innis College

Among the services that Innis provides to commuter students are a commuter lounge equipped with couches, tables, beanbags, a kitchenette, a microwave, a football table, and a TV; lockers available for rent starting at $10; and monthly commuter-oriented events. In addition, students can run for the two Commuter Representative positions in the Innis College Student Society.

New College

Like many other colleges, New is home to a commuter don program, which consists of two Commuter Dons and one lead don. These dons plan programming once or twice a month for commuters. Upcoming events include community hours for students to reach out to Commuter Dons and residence students alike, as well as information sessions about TTC tips.

IRIS DENG/THE VARSITY

St. Michael’s College

St. Michael’s also has a commuter donship program, which helps facilitate commuter-friendly programming and acts as a resource to both commuter and international students.

Trinity College

Trinity has a Non-Resident Affairs Committee (NRAC) made up of 14 members who meet four times a year. Members in the NRAC are responsible for facilitating commuter-friendly events, maintaining the commuter students’ common room, and integrating commuter students into student life, while also encouraging participation in student government. Trinity also has a meal plan for commuter students, which includes 10 free meals for part-time students and 15 free meals for full-time students.

University College (UC)

The Commuter Student Centre (CSC), located in the UC Union building at 79 St. George Street, is the primary space for commuter students at UC. It is equipped with a lounge, a kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerator, a study space, a group study room, lockers for rent each semester, and board games. The CSC is supported by Community Coordinators (CoCo), who facilitate programming, events, and activities at the centre.

“The UC Literary and Athletic Society, Off Campus Commission is a volunteer organization that has as its goal the betterment of the university experience for UC students that live off campus. They create community and organize events for commuter students, often in collaboration with the CoCos,” wrote Naeem Ordonez, Assistant to the Dean of Students at UC, in an email to The Varsity.

Victoria College

Victoria is home to two commuter student groups: Victoria College Off Campus Association (VOCA) and Commuter Dons. The college hosts several commuter-oriented events throughout the academic year including a weekly free pancake breakfast by VOCA.

The Goldring Student Centre also has a commuter lounge in its basement with lockers that students can rent free of charge and a quiet study space equipped with couches, desks, and charging tables.

“We (VOCA) are responsible for hosting and facilitating events throughout the year for commuter students. VOCA also holds monthly collaborations with residence dons as a way to connect residence and commuter students,” wrote Emilia De Fabritiis, Commuter Commissioner of the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council in an email to The Varsity.

“The other commuter initiatives are the Vic Commuter Dons. Similar to VOCA, they host events for commuters. However, Commuter Dons are trained to provide more of an emotional support for students.”

Students are encouraged to get involved at VOCA through applications for general commission members, first year execs, upper year executives, commissioner, and co-chair.

IRIS DENG/THE VARSITY

Woodsworth College

Woodsworth has several commuter resources including lockers available for rent starting at $15; a commuter lounge equipped with a microwave, books, whiteboard, outlets, tables, and comfortable seats; and events such as Woodsworth College Students’ Association Wednesdays, when free pancakes are served. Commuter students can also run for positions, including Off-Campus Directors, and they can participate in Woodsworth’s Off-Campus Committee.

UTSC

The City of Toronto’s Smart Commute Scarborough initiative allows users to be matched with a fellow commuter taking the same route, in an effort to encourage sustainability. The campus also runs a bikeshare program that allows students and staff to rent out bikes free of charge. Commuter meal plans are also available for $390.

UTM

Like UTSC, Smart Commute is also made available for commuter students at UTM. A U-Pass — a transit pass granting unlimited travel — is made available for students using MiWay. Lockers are also available for rent in the student centre.

Trinity, UTSC, and UTM did not respond to The Varsity’s requests for comment.