Report: University Affairs Board - November 21, 2023

Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall



To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto,

Your Board reports that it held a meeting in the Council Chamber on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 with the following members present:

Vikram Chadalawada (Chair), Geeta Yadav (Vice-Chair), Sandy Welsh (Vice-Provost, Students), David Newman (Executive Director, Student Experience), Faraz Alidina, Glen Bandiera*,   Amanda Bartley*, Odelia Bempah, K. Sonu Gaind, Natasha Hanif, Gretchen Kerr, David Kim, Nelson Lee, Somtochukwu Nnakenyi*, Konrad Samsel, Lauren Vollmer

REGRETS: Soban Atique, Helia Karami, Dveeta Lal, Wei-Tung Ling, Ron Levi, Firdaus Sadid

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS: Mark Overton (Dean of Student Affairs and Assistant Principal, Student Services, UTM), Neel Joshi (Dean of Student Experience and Wellbeing), Melinda Scott (Executive Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students)

SECRETARIAT: Joanne Chou, Tim Harlick

Chad Nuttal,  Assistant Dean of Students and International Initiatives, UTM
Cheryl Gibbs, Manager, Student Policy Initiatives, OVPS
Madeline Kalda, Student

(*attended remotely)


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting. He advised members of the upcoming 2024 elections.
  2. Report of the Senior Assessor

    Middle East

    Professor Welsh began her remarks by acknowledging the global events that occurred since the last UAB meeting. Many members of the University community had been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. She expressed deep sympathy for those here and abroad affected by the tragedy. Following the events of October 7th, international student services staff on each campus had reached out directly to students on exchange in the region, as well as international students originating from Israel and Palestine. She emphasized the services and supports made available, and that undergraduate students that were affected by the conflict were encouraged to contact their registrar's offices to discuss their individual circumstances and needs. Graduate students were encouraged to speak with their departments. Professor Welsh added that U of T Telus health student support offered 24/7 access to counselors via telephone or chat from anywhere in the world, in multiple languages. On the St. George campus, the multi-faith Center offered the Global Communities of Care Program, a weekly drop-in staffed by peer supporters and chaplains. Across the three campuses, Student Life staff were working with student organizations to support student driven events and activities, to provide support and referrals as needed.

    Campus Safety

    Professor Welsh recognised that members of the University community had questions about campus safety during this period of heightened conflict. She acknowledged a member’s question that was submitted in advance, requesting an update on any variation in the number of calls for service to campus safety, and hate motivated incidences on the campuses over the course of the fall term. She added that:
    • UTSC had not reported any variation in the YoY data related to hate motivated incidents on campus, one such incident was reported during this period last fall, and one incident had been reported this fall.
    • On the St. George campus, there was a 17% increase in calls for service to campus safety, with 240 additional calls between October 7th and November 20th.
      • This number included an increase in requests for walk escorts by campus safety staff. There had been three hate motivated incidents reported, versus two incidents during the same period last year. There had been 12 reported threats, versus two reports last fall.
    • At UTM, there was a 62% increase in calls for service between October 7th and November 20th, with an additional 73 calls over last year.
    • She noted that some of these calls for service and some of the incidents were not necessarily perpetrated by members of the University community as the St. George campus was situated in the middle of the city.
    • The October 14th threat was reported at the UTM campus and a UTM student was arrested and charged by Peel Regional Police, and an alert was issued to the university community. No further risk to the community was connected to the incident.
    • Across the three campuses, campus safety teams had increased their patrols, and were in close communication with the Toronto Police Services and Peel Regional Police.

    • Professor Welsh encouraged anyone who may be aware of any safety concerns issues to contact their local Campus Safety Unit.
    • Campus Safety recommended that members of the University Community download the free U of T campus safety app, whose key features included a live chat with Campus safety, Travel Safer, and mobile Bluelight.

Professor Welsh concluded her remarks by acknowledging the difficult time for many members of the University community and the critical importance of ensuring that all students felt safe and welcomed on campus. She underscored President Gertler’s Oct. 18th message, that we must ‘look for opportunities to build bridges foster mutual respect and understanding, advance the search for peaceful solutions to conflict, and demonstrate that we truly are a caring and inclusive community.’

UTM Athletic Council (UTMAC)

Professor Welsh then provided a brief update on fees that were withheld from the University of Toronto Mississauga, Athletics Council, (UTMAC), in December 2021, as a result of allegations of irregularities in their conduct. She explained that student societies were required under the policy for compulsory non-academic incidental fees to operate in an open, accessible, and democratic manner, as articulated in the policy on open, accessible, and democratic autonomous student organisations. The policy on compulsory non-academic incidental fees required that when fees were withheld from a student society, the Office of the Vice President and Provost informed UAB.

As Professor Welsh reported to UAB in April 2022, UTMAC was informed that the Acting Vice-President and Provost, Trevor Young had made the decision to withhold further fee installments due to significant procedural irregularities. At that time, UTMAC was provided with a detailed list of actions that had to be taken to facilitate the release of the withheld fees. She added that the Center for Student Engagement had made themselves available to UTMAC to support them in this process.

Professor Welsh was pleased to share that on October 16, 2023, UTMAC was informed that the university would cease to withhold fees collected on their behalf, and all previously withheld fees would be released to the society after addressing the concerns that prompted the decision to withhold fees.

Professor Welsh concluded her report by wishing the student well for their exams, and highlighted that the St George Student Life team had packed and distributed about 3,500 exam care kits for the University community.

A member inquired as to the how the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students (OVPS) understood the limits of free speech, as it applied to student organizations, and the application of those limits, citing both U of T’s 1992 Statement on Freedom of Speech and Policy on the Recognition of Student Groups. In response, Professor Welsh responded that when it came to student organisations, it was important to recognize what kind of student organization it was. She explained the role and types of student organizations at U of T, that the University collected student fees on behalf of student societies, and that membership was automatic and determined by a student’s registration and status in a particular division or program.

Professor Welsh noted that if there were concerns with hate speech, it was considered a criminal offense and that OVPS worked with campus safety and local police agencies. The role of OVPS with regard to student societies was that the office provided guidance on what constitutes “open, accessible and democratic” in relation to both student societies and recognized student groups, and assisted in the resolution of disputes, complaints, or violations of policy, within and among student societies.

  1. Strategic Presentation: On-Location Services

    The Chair invited Professor Welsh to offer introductory remarks, and then invited Ms Heather Kelly, Executive Director, Student Life Programs & Services, to provide a presentation on the On-Location Services.

    Highlights from the presentation included:  
    • The On-Location model was one of the first of its kind in Canada and became the benchmark for integrated program and service delivery nationally.
    • A tri-campus initiative that involved over 50 On-Location staff members serving students at 46 sites.
    • The unique model included Student Life professionals across U of T including Health & Wellness Counsellors, Accessibility Advisors, Learning Strategists and Career Educators offer programs and services to students elsewhere on campus or “on location.”  
    • Built capacity to support diverse needs of students and partners, and tailored programs and services to specific student audiences based on unique characteristics of the location.
    • On-Location models were based on the unique characteristics of the location.
    • On-Location staff were located at 34 sites across St. George campus and last year had over 26,000 interactions with students through conversations, appointments, workshops, and events.
    • The program had simplified the student experience, enhanced wayfinding, and enabled better referrals from partners and cross-referrals, between Student Life programs and services.
    • Key themes that emerged from annual reports:
      • Increased demand for appointments;
      • Students appreciated virtual video appointments, given time constraints
        and heavy workloads;
      • Motivation and attention difficulties;
      • Experiential Learning;
      • Increased mental health challenges, especially for International and BIPOC students; and
      • Incoming students were struggling more.
    • Examples of successful collaborations, such as the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering Mental Health & Wellness Build U Up Pop-Up where students engaged in interactive activities to learn about the resources and services available, such as tips for self-care and de-stressing.
    • First Nations House, also known as Indigenous Student Services, now had an On-Location Learning Strategist, Health and Wellness Counsellor, Accessibility Advisor and Career Strategist.
    • Development of new partnerships had come out of relationships made between the On-Location staff, Student Life units, and the College and Faculty partners, which included a partnership with the Computer Science in the Faculty of Arts & Science, and case management meetings.
    • The On-Location partnerships enhanced the student experience and developed more meaningful and impactful ideas in partnership with students, staff, and faculty, where students were.

A member inquired as to how to avoid duplication of support for International Students and if there were any collaborations between the Centre for International Experience (CIE) and the On-Location services and supports on St. George campus. In response, Professor Welsh explained that they piloted this initiative with CIE prior to the pandemic; and in reviewing the data, found that the on-location international student advisors were under-utilized and there was a need to prioritize access to immigration advisors which led to increase the number of regulated immigration advisors. Currently, while an immigration advisor is not On-Location, a specific contact person had been placed at every unit to offer support and resources to both students and staff. She noted that Heather and her team regularly reviewed their activities and operations to explore additional opportunities.

A member asked what outreach methods were being pursued to enhance student awareness of these resources. Heather responded that one of the advantages of the On-Location work was being able to learn how to do the work differently in conversation with their partners. She explained that it was found to be more impactful if communication were shared through the trusted communication channels locally, and were tailored to the On-Location partnership to reach students who could benefit from the programs and services.

  1. Annual Report: Non-Academic Discipline

    The Chair invited Professor Welsh to provide an overview of the Annual Report: Non-Academic Discipline.

    Professor Welsh noted that the report provided statistics regarding concluded cases resolved using the Code of Student Conduct (“the Code”) for the 2022-23 academic year and included five-year historical data for comparative purposes.

    Professor Welsh also provided an overview of the purpose of the Code in addressing non-academic misconduct, processes used when a complaint is brought forward, and revisions to the Code that occurred in 2019.

    There were no questions from members.
  2. Annual Report: Supportive Leaves Policy

    The Chair invited Professor Welsh, to provide an update on the Annual Report: Supportive Leaves Policy.

    Professor Welsh noted that a review of the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy was conducted during the 2021-22 academic year. On February 15, 2023, the Governing Council approved recommended amendments, including renaming the Policy. The Supportive Leaves Policy, replaced the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy, came into effect on March 1, 2023.

    Professor Welsh highlighted the following:  
  • In the 2022-23 academic year, the Policy had been used three times; two of these involved Urgent Situations under the Policy; 
  • During the reporting period (September 1, 2022 – August 30, 2023), there were no requests for review by the Provost of the Vice-Provost’s decision to place a student on mandated Supportive Leave and therefore, no request for appeal to the University Tribunal.
  • As of August 30, 2023, there were ten open Leave cases: two voluntary Supportive Leaves and eight mandated Supportive Leaves.
  • Two of the students placed on leave during the 2021-22 academic year are being considered for a return to studies.
  • Three students returned to studies during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Two students previously on leave, successful graduated during the 2022-23 academic year.

    Professor Welsh explained that the Policy was only used in extreme circumstances and as a last option when all other support and attempts to mitigate or resolve the concerning behaviour had been exhausted. The threshold to place a student on a Supportive Leave is extremely high and the decision to proceed under the Policy could only be made by the Vice-Provost, Students. Professor Welsh outlined the functioning of the Policy, the engagement of student case managers and a student support team, and a Companion Guide that was available on the OVPS website to help students, and those who work with students, understand, and navigate the Supportive Leaves Policy

    There were no questions from members.



On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item 6, the Report of the Previous Meeting, be approved.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting

    The Report of the Previous meeting was approved.

  2. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.

  1. Date of Next Meeting: January 17, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

    The Chair confirmed that the next meeting would be held on January 17, 2024 in the Council Chamber.
  2. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

    The Board moved in camera.


  3. Appointment: Membership of the Service Ancillaries Review Group (UAB), 2023-24

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


    THAT the following University Affairs Board members be appointed to the Service Ancillaries Review Group for the 2023-2024 governance year:
  • Ms. Amanda Bartley
  • Ms. Odelia Bempah
  • Mr. Faraz Alidina
  1. Appointment: University Affairs Board Striking Committee 2023-24

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


    THAT the following individuals be appointed to the University Affairs Board Striking Committee for 2023-24:
    • Dr. Geeta Yadav (Alumni Staff)
    • Dr. Glen Bandiera (Teaching Staff)
    • Ms. Lauren Vollmer (Co-opted Administrative Staff)
    • Ms. Helia Karami (Undergraduate Student)

The Board returned to Open Session.

The meeting adjourned at 5:42 p.m.

November 27, 2023