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.

SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

UTM

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.

SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

UTSC

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.

City of Toronto releases updated St. George Secondary Plan report

Councillor Joe Cressy proposes amendments to enforce conformity with zoning laws

City of Toronto releases updated St. George Secondary Plan report

A municipal staff status report to City Council is recommending that new developments within UTSG prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, adhere to distinct attributes of newly proposed “Character Areas,” and preserve existing heritage buildings while expanding open and public spaces.

The report is a part of the City of Toronto’s Secondary Plan for UTSG, which provides a planning framework to manage changes and new developments on campus. It outlines specific policies on how the land can be used and how future projects should be laid out.

Two amendments to the status report proposed by Councillor Joe Cressy of Ward 20 Trinity—Spadina were also passed at the Toronto and East York Community Council, which represents the area that UTSG is located in. The amendments were passed without discussion on July 4.

One of the changes requested that city staff report on U of T properties adjacent to the campus, and to report “on the controls that are necessary to ensure conformity with existing Neighbourhood zoning.”

Cressy’s second amendment also requested city staff report on ways to enforce zoning rules, and it stated that “if/when the University acquires property in adjacent neighbourhoods that any exemptions… are not transferred with the University’s title to their off-campus neighbourhood holdings.”

This amendment effectively means that any exemptions U of T currently has with regards to zoning will not be applied to any future developments outside of existing UTSG boundaries.

The status report is the second preliminary report completed by city officials. The Toronto and East York Community Council initially adopted a motion to begin public consultation on the Secondary Plan in early 2017.

The new Secondary Plan was proposed with the goal of developing the areas in and around the university with flexibility — in other words, preserving historically significant buildings while adapting to the institution’s growing needs.

Community responses

When contacted by The Varsity, Cressy said the Secondary Plan was still in its preliminary stages and the final report has not yet been submitted, with consultations still ongoing.

“The Secondary Plan and all the details will be coming back in the new year and so there are questions outstanding related to properties outside of the Secondary Plan area,” he said. “As part of the Secondary Plan review, we want staff to report on whether those mechanisms are needed or not.”

Cressy said that he’s met with the university to consult on the plan approximately 20 times, and that the plan has undergone an “extensive process.”

“I think there were vast, vast improvements in how the university is considering issues like heritage protection, public realm, movements, and walkability,” said Cressy. “In many ways the St. George campus holds some of the best public realm and green spaces in all of the city and it’s a jewel.”

Christine Burke, U of T Director of Campus and Facilities Planning, said that the university wasn’t consulted on the amendments.

“We haven’t responded because those are items that will come up in the next few months and when it comes before [the Toronto and East York Community Council] and council,” said Burke. “But no, the university wasn’t consulted on the amendments and we haven’t discussed them with the city at this time, but we’re happy to do so. We don’t anticipate any impact whatsoever from these additional resolutions.”

Cressy added, “We want to ensure that as the city continues to grow, that collectively the university and the city can benefit from this historic campus.”

According to Burke, the next step for U of T is to start receiving details about the plan from city planning staff. The final report is expected in early 2019.