Report: University Affairs Board - May 31, 2023

Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall, 2nd floor


May 31, 2023

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto,

Your Board reports that it met on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber with the following members present:

Vikram Chadalawada (Chair), Geeta Yadav (Vice-Chair), Sandy Welsh (Vice-Provost, Students), David Newman (Executive Director, Student Experience), Matthew Benoit, Neil Chakraborty*, Tarun Dewan*, Susan Froom, K. Sonu Gaind, Summer Hart*, Natasha Hanif, Madeline Kalda, Ron Levi*, Ana Kanza Tariq*, Geeta Yadav

Non-Voting Assessors:
Neel Joshi (Dean of Student Experience & Wellbeing)
Melinda Scott (Executive Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students)

Joanne Chou (Secretary)

Faraz Alidina, Robert Gerlai, Indi Gopinathan, Syeda Hasan, Gretchen Kerr, Sherry Kulman, Kikelomo Lawal, Dave Lehto, Clayon Levy, Mark Overton, David Zingg

Guests in Attendance:   
Heather Boon (Acting Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity and Culture), Levi Clarkson, (Executive Director of the University of Toronto Graduate Students' Union), Shannon Simpson (Senior Director, Office of Indigenous Initiatives), Allison Burgess (Acting Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion), Nadine McHorgh (Director, Marketing and Communications), Tanya Poppleton (Senior Director, Campus Safety Operations), Chris Ibell (Assistant Director, Campus Safety), Alan Truong (Acting Director, Campus Safety), Ryan Dow (Assistant Director, Community Liaison & Support Team), Deborah Fritz (Director, Campus Safety), Aidan Thompson (University of Toronto Students Union), Sharan Vaidyanathan (University of Toronto Students Union), Cheryl Gibbs (Manager, Student Policy Initiatives), Alex Bowie (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), Dylan Williamson (New College), Ben Poynton (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Office), Adam Kuhn (Director, Student Engagement), Ryan Kavanagh (Student Life), Alyssa Ahmed (Student Life), Camille de Lacy (Student Engagement), David Pereira (Sexual & Gender Diversity Office), Kristina Kazandjian (Trademark Licensing Manager, Ancillary Services), Josh Haas (Coordinator, Student Policy Initiatives, OVPS), Odelia Bempah (Student Life, Centre for International Experience), Jaime Kearns (Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students), James Bullanoff (Varsity news)

*attended remotely

Pursuant to section 33(i) of By-Law Number 2, item 14 and 15  was considered in camera.


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the Board’s final meeting of the governance year. 
  2. Reports of the Senior Assessor

    Professor Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students began her report by providing updates on key initiatives.

    Anti-Asian Racism Task Force

    Professor Welsh informed the Board that the report of the Anti-Asian Racism Task Force and Administrative Response was published earlier in the week. She explained that the Anti-Asian Racism Working Group (AARWG) was launched in April 2022 as part of the University’s commitment to addressing discrimination and growing anti-Asian racism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Group consisted of a diverse group of key stakeholders of the University community and was co-chaired by Professor Carol Chin, Principal of Woodsworth College, and Mr. Vikram Chadalawada, University Affairs Board Chair. Professor Welsh stated that the University accepted all forty recommendations in the report, which outlined eight key areas where the university would expand on its work to build a more respectful, accountable, equitable and inclusive community, stepping up efforts to combat anti-Asian racism across the three campuses. Professor Welsh reported that the University was working to implement the proposed actions, and that the community would be updated on progress related to the report’s recommendations via the commitments tracking webpage of the Institutional Equity Office.

    Student Equity Census

    Professor Welsh then provided an update on the U of T Student Equity Census, noting that on February 28, 2023, the U of T Student Equity Census became a requirement for all students to complete on their ACORN account. She noted that students had the option to choose which information they wished to share. Since this change, the response rate significantly increased, collecting over 100,000 responses from the three campuses, from both graduate and undergraduate students. She stated that approximately 95% of the current registered students had completed the census and only 3.5% chose not to answer all questions, and that the feedback received was positive. Professor Welsh noted that they were in the process of  working with an advisory group, including members of U of T's Institutional Research and Data Governance team to set up a public-facing dashboard and report, which would be shared later on. An internal data sharing process was also in development, with guidelines and training provided for divisions. She explained that the University would be re-engaging with student representatives in coming weeks to consult and gather feedback on the data sharing and reporting plan before anything was released, which was a critical part of their process throughout the development and rollout of this initiative. She added that there would a revision to the census in the fall to include religion or spiritual affiliations, traditions, or beliefs, further supporting planning and program development. Professor Welsh concluded that they were excited for the data sharing and ability to provide more information about the student communities.

    Voluntary Leave Options for Undergraduate Students

    Professor Welsh provided an update on progress made through the establishment of the voluntary leave of absence options for domestic undergraduate students. She reiterated that one of the recommendations from the review of the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy, now renamed Supportive Leaves Policy, was that academic divisions considered how they could offer voluntary leave of absence options for domestic undergraduate students.  Voluntary leave options were already available for graduate students and international students in most first-entry divisions. She noted that a Working Group was formed in summer 2022, co-chaired by staff from the Vice-Provost Students and the University Registrar's Office. The Group recommended that divisions maintain a flexible and informal process for students who wished to take time away from their studies, allowing for autonomy of choice and for flexibility in length of leave, recognizing that many direct-entry undergraduate degree programs had a long, or open-ended time to completion. She explained that common language had been developed and that all divisions were in the process of updating their calendar language and information on their respective websites to reflect this, as well as the companion guide for the Supportive Leaves Process.  She added that the University Registrar’s Office worked collaboratively to implement improvements for international students on leave in partnership with divisions and the tri-campus international student centres, and enhanced planning to track domestic students who chose to take voluntary leave. Professor Welsh concluded that further consideration was made on the development of a template letter that students could access when applying for graduate studies or to professional programs, or any situation where gaps in their academic record may need to be explained. 

    Professor Welsh expressed sincere appreciation for the Chair’s leadership and Secretary’s guidance to the Board over the past year, and thanked all UAB members for their commitment, engagement, and participation at the meetings. She acknowledged the significant contributions that the members dedicated to the Board. She looked forward to connecting with returning members in the fall and thanked members for their dedication and service to the University that completed their terms and wished them well.

    In response to a member’s question about the student equity census and if cohort demographic data was being tracked on a YoY basis, Professor Welsh responded that initial analysis had been completed on previous cohorts and were tracking cohorts to graduation. She noted that the data collected would be integrated with data currently on other platforms to further enrich the information that would be shared with divisions and units about student experience at U of T.

  3. Student Societies: Requests for Fee Increases – St. George and University-Wide (for approval)

    Professor Welsh reported that changes in student fees were subject to the terms outlined in the Policy for Compulsory Non-academic Incidental Fees, the Handbook for Student Societies and society's constitutions or bylaws.  Changes to existing fees and the establishment of new fees were brought forward to the Board for consideration and approval.  She noted that this fee request had been brought forward by the University of Toronto Graduate Students Union (UTGSU) and that no complaints had been received by the administration with respect to the continuation of this fee.

    There were no questions from members.

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,


    THAT, beginning in the Fall 2023 session, the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union fee be modified as follows:

    (a) an increase of $0.90 per fall session and $0.91 per winter session in the Bikechain portion of the fee ($0.45 per session for part-time students; based on the 2022-23 fee amounts).

  1. Annual Report: Office of Indigenous Initiatives

    The Chair invited Professor Heather Boon, Acting Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture to offer introductory remarks on the Annual Report and then invited Ms Shannon Simpson, Senior Director of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, to offer a presentation. The report documented the new and ongoing Indigenous initiatives and projects that occurred at the University between January 2022 and December 2022.

    Highlights from the presentation included:
  • This Annual Report reflects on the work of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, whose establishment in 2017 was a response to one of the 34 Calls to Action set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Steering Committee’s Final Report.
  • The report acknowledged that with a full return to campus, 2022 brought communities back together after many years of separation and isolation.
  • An update on the University’s progress achieved under the six themes identified in Answering the Call, Wecheehetowin: Final Report of the Steering Committee for the University of Toronto Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
  • This included new spaces on all three campuses, the addition of several special advisors to senior leaders, the creation of a collaborative mural at the University of Toronto Scarborough, and the addition of the Eagle Feather Bearer to convocation ceremonies.
  • Common challenges brought forward by Faculties and departments as well as Indigenous staff, students, faculty, and librarians.
  • Continued growth in Indigenous staff and faculty with institution-wide hiring of newly created Indigenous positions and on-boarding of new Indigenous faculty, increasing Indigenous presence on campus, and fostering culturally safe environments where students and staff can flourish. Additional supports to Indigenous students and enhanced curricular developments University-wide.
  • The University of Toronto continues to create space for and integrate Indigenous curriculum, epistemologies, and pedagogies across all three campuses.
  • Investments into education that included the Ziibiing Lab: An International Indigenous Politics Collaboratory, UTSG Relations on the Land: A Hub for Community Engaged Research and Teaching with Indigenous Partners, and the Itzaj Language Revitalization.
  • Further impact in advancing Indigenous issues with transparency, accountability, and proficiency on the three campuses such as the NAISA Conference and UTM’s first ever Pow Wow.  
  • Continued growth of student events and programs across the tri-campus that included Orange Shirt Day/National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Tri-Campus Virtual tour of the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School, Indigenous Student Advisory Circle Tri-campus, UTM Indigenous Community Gathering, Hart House Farm Drum Social, UTM.

    In response to a member’s question about the two advisory positions to the Principal, Ms Simpson confirmed that those positions will work directly with the Principals at UTSC and UTM and were selected independently.

    The Chair thanked Ms Simpson for her presentation.

  1. Annual Report: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

    The Chair invited Professor Boon to offer introductory remarks on the Annual Report and then invited Ms Allison Burgess, Acting Executive Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, to offer a presentation. The Report reflected the collective efforts of the University community to embed equity and inclusion and belonging across the institution.

    Highlights from the presentation included:

  • The Office of Equity, Diversity and inclusion had invited and received submissions from the University community that spoke to impactful equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives that had strengthened and shaped the University over the past year.
  • The inaugural inclusion of the employment equity data for employees at the University was embedded within the EDI Report, and tracked progress of the increasing diversity of the workforce.
  • A framework of a ‘lifecycle; interactions to share how the U of T community worked to create experiences of belonging for individuals before, during, and after they engage with the University.  
  • The University established the Institutional Equity Office (IEO) within the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture in Fall 2022 and is guided by three priorities: Inclusive Leadership and Equitable Systems Change, Community Experience of Belonging and Changing Our Institutional Culture.
  • Four key themes were included in the Report: Increasing Access and attracting talent,  Enhancing Current Experiences, Forging Future Pathways, and on the horizon.
  • Institutional commitments had been informed by the two reports: the Anti-Black Racism Rask Force Report, the Scarborough Charter, and the Antisemitism Working Group Report, as well as ongoing commitments related to the Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin: Final Report of the Steering Committee for the University of Toronto Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Institution-wide action based on the Final Report of the Anti-Asian Racism Working Group would be implemented later in 2023.  
  • The Division of People, strategy, equity and Culture had launched the Employment Equity Project with an advisory group, to evaluate the Employment Equity survey and how that data was shared.
  • Divisions, Units and Departments across the three campuses had been engaging in strategic planning and consultation to bring meaningful change at U of T.
  • The University expanded the presence of EDI leads across the tri-campus bringing specialized knowledge and experience to the campuses. The appointment of additional EDI leads delivered on an institutional commitment made in response to the recommendation by the Anti-Black Racism Task Force “that every [F]aculty and college appoint a senior divisional lead on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI).”

    In response to a member’s question about data capture regarding demographic changes in senior leadership positions, Professor Heather Boon responded that there was an increase in the diversity of people at the decanal level and above in the past several years, and many of the new hires that identify in underrepresented groups on the assistant professor level was increasing.

    The Chair thanked Allison for her presentation.
  1. Annual Report: Code of Conduct for Trademark Licensees

    At the invitation of the Chair, Ms Nadine McHorgh, Director, Marketing & Communications, provided an overview of the Annual Report: Code of Conduct for Trademark Licensees which highlighted key initiatives throughout the year.

    Ms Macdonald highlighted many of the Trademark Licensing Office’s internal and external branding partnerships, some of which included Defy Gravity, Peace Collective Collaboration, Pride Merchandise, OVO, U of T Birthday Celebration,  and a new collaboration with So Young, a Toronto-based lifestyle brand. She noted the overall rise in sales despite production and supply issues, and cost increases.  It was noted that the Trademark Licensing would continue to partner with Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) as the licensing agency for the University after a renewed contract in 2022, through 2025. This fostered a change in systems that allowed payments and reporting in Canadian dollars.  Ethical procurement continued to be a top priority for Trademark Licensing.

    In response to a member’s question that had been shared in advance on what factors were considered when assessing ethical standards in granting licenses and ongoing procurement, and how were ethical complaints or concerns raised; Ms McHorgh responded by acknowledging that Trademark Licensing dealt with the licensing of the University brand on all merchandise. She explained that licensees read and signed the U of T code of conduct and that this code would be linked in future reports. She noted that the code of conduct outlined the University’s position on specific topics related to the ethical production of merchandise. She also clarified that the Office worked with NGOs, such as the Worker Rights Consortium and ensured that all manufacturers were thoroughly reviewed through proper due diligence.

    In response to a member’s comment about the Trademark Licensing Policy and the suggestion to review and reflect on the Policy, and if it adheres to appropriate current labour and ethical standards, Ms McHorgh responded that as part of their strategic planning, they will review the Code of Conduct and ensure they follow best practices in terms of ethical practices.

    In response to member’s question about expanding U of T merchandise outside of campuses, Ms McHorgh responded that the brand collaborators were also sold in various external retailers outside of campus and that they were contracted with the U of T bookstore which set limitations. She concluded that they were exploring the possibility of pop-up shops and that the brand collaborations would raise U of T’s profile domestically and globally to expand market possibilities.

    The Chair thanked Nadine for her report.
  2. Annual Reports: Recognized Student Groups
    1. University of Toronto Mississauga
    2. University of Toronto Scarborough
    3. University of Toronto, St. George


      The Chair noted for members that the three reports were received for information. Professor Welsh advised that the campus groups listed in the three reports had sought recognition based on the Policy on the Recognition of Student Groups. She reported that across the three campuses, there were 859 recognized Student Groups; 535 were on the St. George Campus, 107 at UTM and 217 at UTSC. There had been an overall year over year decrease of 3% in the number of recognized student groups from 2021-22 to 2022-23. However, the total number of student members engaged in campus groups had experienced an 11% year over year increase. Professor Welsh added that at the time of publication of the report, an additional 80 applications were approved on the St. George Campus, thus bringing the total number of groups to 939 representing a 6.5% increase over last year’s total. Professor Welsh noted the launch of the tri-campus Student Organization Portal, a new platform designed to support clubs and students looking to join clubs.  Professor Welsh concluded by thanking the Student Life and Student Engagement teams for their work and support of student groups and organizations. 

      No discussion from members.

  3. Annual Reports: Campus Safety
    1. University of Toronto Mississauga
    2. University of Toronto Scarborough
    3. University of Toronto, St. George

      The Chair noted that these three reports were received for information and welcomed Ms Deborah Fritz, Director, Campus Safety from UTM, Ms Tanya Poppleton, Senior Director, Campus Safety Operations and Mr. Chris Ibell, Assistant Director, Campus Safety, both from UTSC, and Mr. Alan Truong, Acting Director, Campus Safety and Mr. Ryan Dow, Assistant Director, Community Liaison & Support Team from the St. George Campus, who were available to respond to questions.

      Professor Welsh reported that the Campus Safety Services on all three campuses were committed to the principles of community policing, through interaction with the community; foot, vehicle and bicycle patrols; and the provision of services related to crime prevention, awareness and personal safety. She advised that overall occurrences were up across all three campuses, back to pre-pandemic levels as the University community returned to more typical levels of in-campus activity.

      Professor Welsh reiterated that a Review Committee was convened in 2021 to examine the role of Campus Safety in responding to students experiencing mental health crises. A final report was submitted in December 2021 and the University had published its administrative response in the Fall of last year. Work had been underway to address the recommendations such as the new tri-campus safety leadership table that developed a shared set of standards to inform consistent, responsive, and accountable practices across the University. She reported that community collaboration was a driving success factor, and noted that the report provided updates on the recommendations put forward by the Review Committee.

      In response to a member’s question shared in advance about the low number of staff who had 
      received mandatory training in mental health across all three campuses and what plans were in place to improve Special Constable training in aiding those with mental health issues, Professor Boon explained that the training was part of the onboarding for new special constables, and experienced constables had already taken the training. She added that the enrollment was also dependent on the number of new hires per year and course capacity.



On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted, Item 9 be recommended, and Item 10 be approved.

  1. Amendments to the Discipline Appeals Board (DAB) Terms of Reference

    The Amendments to the Discipline Appeals Board (DAB) Terms of Reference was recommended.
  2.  Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 234, April 19, 2023

    The report of the previous meeting was approved.
  3. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  4. Date of Next Meeting: October 4, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.

    The Chair confirmed that the next meeting would be held on October 4, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.


  1. Other Business

    A member commented about the freedom of speech and concerns about the rise in self censorship in students and in academics. She encouraged administration to reflect more deeply on the policy statement on freedom of speech and to promote the obligation to protect free speech amongst the study body.

    Professor Welsh thanked the member for her thoughtful remarks and responded that the university campus was a reflection for the rest of the world and acknowledged that people in general were receiving their news from various sources. She noted that the University valued the freedom of expression and that the University was unique in that they provide the power of learning spaces within an academic community and student organizations, where understanding, curiosity and debates can flourish.

    The Board moved IN CAMERA.


  1. Report of the University Affairs Board Striking Committee

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried,


    THAT the following recommendations from the Report of the University Affairs Board Striking Committee were approved:

    THAT the following be appointed to the University Affairs Board for a one-year term from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024.
  • Ms Odelia Bempah
  • Ms Lauren Vollmer
  • Ms Natasha Hanif
  • Mr. Faraz Alidina
  • Mr. Konrad Samsel
  • Ms Helia Karami
  • Ms Wei-Tung Ling
  • Ms Somtochukwu Nnakenyi

    THAT the following be appointed to the Discipline Appeals Board for a one-year term from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024.
  • Professor Mark Lautens
  • Mr. Sarosh Jamal
  • Mr. Dylan Archer Dingwell
  • Ms Susan Froom
  1. Appointment: Council on Student Services (COSS) (for approval)

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried


    THAT Susan Froom be appointed chair of Council on Student Services, effective immediately and until April 30, 2024.

The meeting adjourned at 6:08 p.m.

June 7, 2023