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 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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

The Breakdown: Orientation weeks 2018

A look at the more niche events you may have missed

The Breakdown: Orientation weeks 2018

Orientation week brought in tens of thousands of eager first-year students at three campuses, seven colleges, and numerous faculties. While large frosh events, such as those organized by the colleges and faculties, brought together the class of 2022, several student organizations and unions created their own events catering to smaller groups on campus. The Varsity spoke to some of the organizers involved in these smaller and niche orientations.

Though some colleges organized their own LGBTQ+ friendly events, the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office is hosting a Queer Orientation for students who identify as LGBTQ+ from September 24–29.

Over 42 events will be taking place at all three campuses including a Queer & Trans Students of Colour Discussion and Social, as well as a session in collaboration with the Multi-Faith Centre, titled “What is Qu(e)erying Religion?”

A smaller orientation was also held for mature and transfer students on September 4–5, with information sessions on campus resources at U of T.



This year, the Mississauga campus is expected to welcome its largest incoming class ever.

In the weeks leading up to the start of school, UTM hosted orientation events catering to international students, as well as for parents and families of incoming first-year students.

The international student orientation took place on September 8, and it was a collaboration between the Centre for Student Engagement and the International Education Centre.

The event was not just for incoming international students, but also those new to Canada including permanent residents, landed immigrants, refugees, and newcomers with international experience who might be otherwise considered domestic students.

UTM’s International Student Orientation was the first of its kind on the campus, emerging from a user survey and feedback from the university’s international student centre. Programming included panels on social and cultural adjustment in Canada, as well as finding necessary information for immigration requirements.

“The International and New-to-Canada Student Orientation program [offered] opportunities for students to meet students with similar interests through interactive activities, learn about on/off campus services, and hear from students and alumni from UTM about how to succeed as both an international and new-to-Canada student,” said Dale Mullings, Assistant Dean of Students & International Initiatives at UTM, in an email to The Varsity.

Another similar orientation session for students new to Canada will be held on September 19 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm for those who otherwise could not attend the first event, typically due to study permit issues.

UTM’s Parent and Family Orientation, held on September 1, saw more than 700 families of incoming students. The orientation aimed to connect families and students to academic and personal resources on campus. Panels were held on specific subjects, including “Residence Parents and Families,” “Engagement Outside the Classroom,” and “University Fees and Financial Aid.” A special session was held for parents of newcomer students providing resources for immigrant services.



The Scarborough campus is also hosting an International Student Orientation, with programming scheduled from September 4–17.

“The International Student Centre has been organizing UTSC International Orientation for over 10 years,” wrote Don Campbell, Media Relations Officer at UTSC, in an email to The Varsity.

“Each incoming international student is invited to an orientation workshop where they learn about [the University Health Insurance Plan], international programs and services, and review any immigration information they might need.”

Orientation programming at UTSC’s International Student Orientation included trips to local malls, downtown Toronto attractions, and an excursion to Niagara Falls. Students will also be matched with International Student Advisors throughout the first semester to discuss important subjects such as exam preparation, immigration information, and overall guidance.

The Breakdown: What happens if the UTSU and the UTMSU separate

UTSU projects roughly $82,800 loss in yearly revenue from UTM students until 2023

The Breakdown: What happens if the UTSU and the UTMSU separate

A University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) committee has recommended that the organization terminate its membership agreement with the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU).

Lucas Granger, a member of the Ad Hoc Negotiations Committee, presented the recommendation at the UTSU’s August 15 board meeting.

“It’s really serious, and I want everyone to think about that, because it’s a big move in the way the UTSU is structured,” said Granger.

That recommendation is “contingent on expected negotiation results,” said UTSU President Anne Boucher at the board meeting. Both Boucher and UTMSU President Felipe Nagata declined to comment on the specifics of these expected results.

The agreement, effective since April 30, 2008, was a bid to “co-ordinate and streamline resources” of the UTSU and UTMSU. But on January 25, 2018, the UTMSU and the UTSU began talks to renegotiate the agreement, jointly citing a need for the UTMSU to secure greater independence in governance and to better represent UTM’s student body.

The goal of the talks was not to rip up the agreement, but to “strengthen the contract,” said then-UTMSU President Salma Fakhry. That sentiment was reinforced by then-UTSU President Mathias Memmel, who said that the UTSU was “cautiously optimistic that the current agreement can be amended to the satisfaction of both parties.”

But by February, the UTSU and UTMSU released an identical announcement that “the parties aren’t able to reach an agreement,” and that they “have agreed to hold a vote on whether or not to terminate the agreement.” If the agreement is terminated, UTM students will no longer be represented by the UTSU.

Talks stalled, so the previous executives agreed to leave further negotiations “to the new executive teams [of 2018–2019] should they choose to continue.”

The new 2018–2019 UTMSU executives first met with their board on April 27, and the new UTSU executives first met with their board on April 28. The Ad Hoc Negotiations Committee within the UTSU, chaired by Boucher, first met on July 20 to secure an agreement. The committee met a second time on July 27 to discuss the financial impact of a potential separation and to issue a recommendation.

Joshua Grondin, UTSU Vice-President University Affairs, estimated that the UTSU could expect a revenue decrease of $82,000 per year from a loss of UTM student revenue.

Where does the money come from?

UTM students pay one fee and three levies to the UTSU each year, according to the Membership Agreement. The UTSU then transfers the entirety of the UTM students’ portion of both the UTSU Daycare Levy and the UTSU World University Service of Canada Levy to the UTMSU, along with 75 per cent of the UTSU Orientation Levy and 85 per cent of the UTSU Society/Membership fees. The UTSU retains the remainder of the funds.

Where does this money go?

The UTSU has budgeted the remaining 15 per cent portion of the UTSU Society/Membership Fees, which amount to around $82,800 per year, for event-running and advocacy work.

Grondin said at the July 27 committee meeting that this advocacy work includes UTSU representation on behalf of UTM, since the 2008 agreement prohibits the UTMSU from representing itself in campus-wide negotiations, such as with Governing Council.

In the 2017–2018 period, the UTSU earned $1,950,508.62 in total revenue and gains. The non-remitted revenue from UTM students accounts for 4.2 per cent of that.

Boucher further projects that lost UTM student fees would result in a sub-10 per cent reduction of revenue that the UTSU would expect to receive in 2022.

In response to Boucher’s projection, Granger said that “it’s not that much of an impact,” to which Boucher agreed, adding that “the numbers are more positive than would have been anticipated.”

How will the UTSU make up for lost revenue?

The UTSU plans to cut spending to “pursue efficiencies,” with Boucher vowing that she “would never be able to responsibly make cuts to its advocacy, services, or programming that could contribute significantly to campus life.”

The UTSU also plans to request donations from alumni, as well as to increase cash inflow by opening for-profit services run by the UTSU’s commercial subsidiary, which include renting conference spaces and running a café. Finally, the UTSU is considering an increase in the UTSU levy to offset the loss in revenue.

What are the benefits of a UTSU-UTMSU separation?

For the UTSU, a separation would allow the UTSU to provide services currently offered by the UTMSU and vice versa, which is currently prohibited by the agreement.

According to Boucher, the UTMSU would receive increased freedom in governance and increased revenue from UTM students, enabling it to offer services that it could not operate before. Nagata did not discuss any benefits to the UTMSU from a separation.

How would the separation be ratified?

The recommendation of the ad hoc committee is non-binding. One of two processes must be undertaken for a separation to occur.

The first is a three-quarters majority vote in favour of terminating the agreement in a joint meeting between the UTSU and UTMSU Board of Directors, followed by another three-quarters majority vote in favour of terminating the agreement at the Annual General Meeting between the UTSU and the UTMSU board members and executives.

The second option is a two-thirds majority vote in favour of terminating the agreement in a similar joint meeting, followed by a simple majority vote in a joint referendum.