Report: University Affairs Board - November 24, 2020

Via Virtual Meeting


November 24, 2020

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Board reports that it met on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at 4:30 p.m. via virtual meeting with the following members present:

Present: Andrew Szende, Chair; P.C. Choo, Vice-Chair; Micah Stickel, Acting Vice-Provost, Students; David Newman, Voting Assessor; Olivia Batt; Harvey Botting; Neil Chakraborty; Reshma Dhrodia; Susan Froom; Avrum Gotlieb; Sandra Hanington; Syeda Hasan; Ian Peter Hutson; Ira Jacobs; Joseph Leydon; Ron Levi; John F. Monahan; Sandhya Mylabathula; Ann Perry; Tayyab Rashid; Salvatore Spadafora; Linh Tran; Marium Vahed

Non-Voting Assessors: Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity; Mark Overton, Vice-Principal, Student Services, Dean of Student Affairs, UTM; Desmond Pouyat, Dean of Student Experience and Wellbeing, UTSC;
Melinda Scott, Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students and Student Policy Advisor

David Walders

Regrets: Stephane Martin Demers, Christine Sutcliffe

In Attendance: Rosalyn Figov, Chief Operations Office, Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity; Cheryl Gibbs, Assistant-Director, Office of the Vice-Provost Students; Gabriella Tolnai, President, Engineering Athletics Association;
Angela Treglia, Director, Sexual Violence and Prevention


  1. Chair’s Opening Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting.
  2. Reports of the Senior Assessor

    Professor Micah Stickel offered updates on the following matters:

    Student Equity Census

    The Student Equity Census had been launched on November 16th by the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students (OVPS). The initiative - a survey of all registered undergraduate and graduate students - was aimed at collecting important demographic information about the student population to enhance the University’s diversity efforts. The survey was voluntary and would have no bearing on registration status or academic progress. As of November 23rd, 5961 students had completed the census and 7391 had viewed it. There was no defined end date for completion of the census.

    On a related note, Professor Stickel noted that nominations for membership on the Equity Census Roundtable were now open and would be accepted until November 26th. Nominations would be accepted from all estates within the University community. The Roundtable would be tasked with reviewing feedback on the census and developing a framework of best practices on how the University would report, share and use this data to support meaningful change.

    Update on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Mental Health Task Force

    Professor Stickel offered the following updates on the implementation of the recommendations of the Mental Health Task Force:
  • The University had established a mental health services redesign team – led by Professor Joe Deslodge and Catherine Gagne, CAO of the Division of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic - with the goal of creating an integrated tri-campus health system that would simplify the process of accessing services and supports for students on all three campuses.
  • There had been an expansion of drop-in and same-day counselling appointments as well as on-location counselling in colleges, faculties, and departments on all three campuses. The MySSP resources also provided students with 24/7 access to Counselling via telephone or chat in multiple languages from anywhere in the world.
  • In fall, 2020, the NAVI wayfinder had been launched to serve as an online mental health navigation tool to assist students in accessing information and resources. Since its launch, there had been more than 7700 student conversations through NAVI.
  • A new Student Mental Health portal, built around the stepped model of care, had recently been launched and provided direct links to tri-campus health and wellness centres and to the School of Graduate Studies for booking counselling appointments and accessing event information. The portal also included a Get Urgent Help button for students in distress.
  • Partnerships and collaboration with external partners, including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, continued to be integral to enhancing the delivery of services. To this end, a Youth Mental Health Research Initiatives Steering Committee had been formed, to lead the development of a network focused on research-informed, evidence-based solutions.
  • Support also continued for student societies, to expand and coordinate health insurance plans.
  • Formal and informal consultation with graduate and undergraduate students continued regarding the implementation of Task Force recommendations.

Professor Stickel concluded by noting that the process was on-going and reaffirmed the University’s commitment to addressing student need and fostering a culture of caring.


Professor Stickel began his COVID-19 update by noting that, in response to new provincial and local measures, the University had implemented the following measures effective November 23rd:

  • All indoor and outdoor sport and recreation facilities, including pools and arenas, would be closed; Virtual programming would continue;
  • Library service would continue with pick-up services and access to IT services for those who needed it;
  • Research continued with on-campus activity limited to that which is required and all other work was to be done remotely.

Professor Stickel then highlighted the following specific initiatives being undertaken:

  • UCheck: a simple way for all members of the University community to do a symptom self-assessment before they came to campus or left their residence room. In October, completion of the UCheck assessment became a requirement for all students, staff, and faculty who planned to physically attend a U of T campus.
  • Masks: the Policy on Non-Medical Masks and Face Coverings and been introduced and approved by governance and two masks were provided to every member of the University community across all three campuses.
  • Dashboard: launched in September, the Dashboard had been updated each week based on cases reported to Occupational Health & Safety. Historical data was also available.
  • Student Arrivals and Quarantine: The quarantine program continued to facilitate the entry of international students, and would be continuing through January 2021. As of November 19th, over 1,300 students had registered for the quarantine program and 1011 students have completed their 14-day quarantine period. In late October the University received confirmation that it had been approved as a Designated Learning Institute – thereby permitting registered students with valid study permits to enter Canada.
  • COVID-19 Emergency Grants: To date, more than $7.32M in COVID-19 Emergency grants have been disbursed to more than 6,000 distinct students since mid-March.

Non-Tuition Incidental Fees

Turning to non-tuition incidental fees, Professor Stickel reminded members that some incidental summer fees had been reduced, given the extraordinary circumstances and to reflect the online nature of the programming. In addition, fall incidental fees had been reduced prior to assessment of fees, and reflected variances in services offered and fees charged on each campus. Some student societies had also reduced their fees for the fall and winter terms.

Winter Break Residence

Students in residence who were unable to travel over the winter break would be permitted to remain in residences. On the St. George Campus, some students would be provided with accommodation at Campus One, which would allow the University to provide an optional meal plan and access to supports, resources, and social engagement opportunities during this time. The fee for the 12-day program would be $300. The optional meal plan would be available at a subsidized rate of $300. For students who require only a few days of accommodations, arrangement have been made at the Chelsea Hotel Toronto at a reduced rate.

Campus Activities

Professor Stickel then highlighted some of the activities and initiatives that had been undertaken across all three campuses:

  • Hart House: the Virtual Hart House initiative continued and included online supports for recognized campus groups, workshops on building positive mental health, resiliency, and academic success strategies in an online learning environment.
  • KPE Sports and Recreation: online programming and virtual fitness and performance training continued.
  • Health and Wellness Centres: Centres on all three campuses continued to offer services both in-person and remotely. This included one-on-one appointments with physicians, nurses, and counsellors as well as educational workshops and facilitated support groups.
  • Residences: professional staff and student staff continued to work tirelessly to ensure that students living in residence were safe and well-supported.
  • Academic Divisions and Units: staff and faculty continued to work to ensure that student support services were available both online and in-person. Registrar’s Offices continued to offer academic advising and support to students and divisional student life staff are facilitating opportunities for student engagement.

Winter Term

The majority of classes would continue to be offered online. Following the announcement from the President, for first-entry undergraduate divisions, the start date for winter term classes would be moved to January 11th to allow for an extended winter break.

Professor Stickel concluded by expressing deep gratitude for the work of staff, faculty, and student leaders to adapt to the current circumstances and come together to support students.

In the discussion that followed, members asked questions on the topic of mental health regarding increased support for student mental health, including additional counselling services. Professor Stickel noted that wait times to see counsellors had been reduced and that work continued to address barriers to access. Work would also continue with student societies regarding access to services covered under health insurance plans.

Discussion also occurred around the University’s response to COVID-19, including staff consultation on health and safety measures, student transcript notations and the use of emergency bursaries. Both Professor Stickel and Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, confirmed that there would continue to be close consultation with employee groups regarding health and safety initiatives in response to COVID-19. Professor Stickel also confirmed that the student emergency bursary, which was available to graduate and undergraduate student, was aimed at achieving a variety of goals, including support for IT needs of students.

Finally, discussion on the Student Equity Census centred on both the composition of the Roundtable as well as deliverables that would be available from the data collected. Professor Stickel confirmed that applications from all estates for membership on the Roundtable were strongly encouraged. He also noted that while there was no set end date to the census, there would be ongoing data-point tracking and periodic reporting.

The Chair thanked Professor Stickel for his Report.

  1. Constitutional Amendment: Engineering Athletics Association

    Professor Stickel noted that some older student societies had clauses in their constitutions and/or by-laws that require approval from the society’s membership and the University’s Governing Council (through its Boards, Campus Councils, and Committees). The Engineering Athletic Association (EAA) was one such society. The proposed amendments were approved by the society’s membership at the EAA Annual General Meeting, held on May 30, 2020.

    Professor Stickel then responded to questions that had been submitted by members in advance of the meeting with the following points:
  • The EAA was neither a legally incorporated entity nor part of such an entity, and was an autonomous student society, distinct from the Engineering Society.
  • The EAA set the membership fee annually and changes to the fee would require a referendum of the society’s membership.
  • There were at least five student societies that had constitutions/by-laws with specific articles that require approval by the University’s Governing Council, should they be amended or removed. Any concerns related to a societies’ constitution could be raised with the society directly. If internal resolution efforts failed, complaints could be filed with the Complaint and Resolution Council for Student Societies (CRCSS).

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried

    It was Resolved

    THAT the amendments to Bylaw 1: The Constitution of the University of Toronto Engineering Athletic Association, approved at the EAA Annual General Meeting held on May 30, 2020, be approved.
  1. Annual Report: University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy 2019-20

    Professor Stickel provided an update on the Annual Report, highlighting the following main points:
  • In 2019-20, the Policy was used one time, and that student had returned to studies in September 2020;
  • As of July 1, 2020, there were five active Leave cases: 2 Voluntary and 3 University-Mandated. One of the students who was on a Leave in 2018-19 returned to studies and had since graduated;
  • There had been discussions with divisions about seven other potential cases in 2019-20. Since it was discovered that the University had not exhausted supports, both internally and in the community that could potentially allow the student to persist in their studies, the Policy had not been invoked in those cases.

    Professor Stickel underscored the compassionate intent of the Policy, the wide-ranging and tailored supports available to students who proceeded to a voluntary or mandated leave, as well as the confidentiality requirements of the Policy, as mandated by the provincial Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. He concluded by noting that a three-year review of the Policy would be conducted in 2020-21 and would include multiple opportunities for feedback from all estates.

    In the discussion that followed, members inquired about case-tracking as well as support for students at the divisional level. Professor Stickel noted that a key aspect of the overall approach to mental health was communication and connection with Division and Unit leadership, which allowed OVPS to be aware of student mental health across the University. Training for division and unit heads with respect to student mental health was a key aspect of onboarding for academic administrators. These administrators were made aware of the resources available to them, including the teams that support student crisis response. Professor Stickel confirmed that it was only students who were brought under the Policy that were assigned a case manager. Other students were supported at the divisional/unit level and also had access to the full range of mental health services at the University.
  1. Report: Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre

    The Chair noted that Items 5 and 6 would be considered together and invited Angela Treglia, Director of Sexual Violence and Prevention, to offer a presentation. Ms Treglia delivered a presentation, which highlighted the structure of the Centre, the supports provided as well select statistical analysis. The presentation also highlighted activities that would be taking place over the next year, as well as the work of the Tri-Campus Advisory Committee on Sexual Violence Prevention and Support.

    There were no questions from members and the Chair thanked Ms Treglia for her presentation.
  2. Report: Tri-Campus Advisory Committee on Sexual Violence Prevention and Support

    There were no additional comments and no questions or comments from members on the advisory committee.
  3. Annual Report: Non-Academic Discipline

    Professor Stickel noted that the Report provided statistics regarding concluded cases disposed of under the Code of Student Conduct for the 2019-20 academic year and included historical data for comparative purposes. He reminded members that in December 2019, the Governing Council approved technical changes to the Code to align with the Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy, as well as updates to the range of sanctions a Hearing Officer may impose.

    New options for sanctions included mandated training or an assignment, a no contact order, and conditions for participation in the University community. Additionally, some existing sanctions were modified.

    In response to a question regarding the length of time it took for some cases to be resolved, Professor Stickel noted that there were some delays due to covid-19 and the need to move the investigation and hearing processes online. In addition, there were a variety of factors that could delay the resolution of a case; in particular, cases where there were concurrent legal proceedings may be delayed should the respondent choose not to engage in an investigation until the legal proceedings have concluded.
  4. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 219, September 30, 2020

    The report of the previous meeting was approved.
  5. Business Arising form the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  6. Date of the Next Meeting: Tuesday, January 19, 2021

    The Chair confirmed that the next meeting of the Board would be held on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.
  7. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

    The Chair wished members a safe and restful winter break

The meeting adjourned at 6:22 p.m.

November 27, 2020