Report: UTSC Campus Council - January 28, 2020

UTSC Council Chamber, Arts and Administration Building, Room AA160


To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Campus Council reports that it met on January 28, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. in the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) Council Chambers (AA160), with the following members present:

Present: Preet Banerjee (Chair), Paul Kingston (Vice-Chair), Wisdom Tettey - Vice-President and Principal, Andrew Arifuzzaman, Shadi Dalili, Tarun Dewan, Arda Erturk, George Fadel*, Jason Glover*, Elaine Khoo, Brenda Librecz, Gillian Mason, Mari Motrich, Sonja Nikkila, Tayyab Rashid, Silma Roddau, Annie Sahagian, Dorinda So*, Lynn Tucker

Regrets: Fareed Amin, Liben Gebremikael, Daniel Lysak

Secretariat: Emma Thacker (Secretary)

In Attendance: Cheryl Regehr - Vice-President & Provost, Maryam Abdinejab, Ifeoma Amaechi, Jennifer Curry - Director, Office of the Vice President & Principal, Tina Doyle, Director, AccessAbility Services, Sheila John, Assistant Dean, Health, Wellness, Physical Activity, Recreation & Sport, Desmond Pouyat - Dean, Student Affairs, Nadia Rosemond, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs and Student Life, Melanie Ratnam

*Telephone Participants


  1. Chair’s Remarks

The Chair welcomed members and guests to the Council meeting. He offered a special welcome to Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost. The Chair remarked that the 2020 governance elections were underway. He noted that the nomination period was re-opened for vacant seats.

  1. Report of the Vice-President and Principal

The Chair invited Wisdom Tettey, Vice-President and Principal, to deliver his report. Professor Tettey introduced Dr. Gray Graffam, Director of The Hub, the UTSC startup incubator. He noted that at the November 2019 annual competition, 25 student-led entrepreneurial initiatives competed for 8 awards, and 75% of the winning startups were either founded, or co-founded by women, a dramatic increase from previous years.

2a) The Hub Startup Competition – Women and Entrepreneurship

Dr. Gray Graffam welcomed three women entrepreneurs to present their winning product initiatives. Ms Melanie Ratnam, reported on her product, ‘Indaggo’, which was a platform for researchers to purchase lab supplies and other research materials. Ms Maryam Abdinejab reported on her product ‘Archemy’. Archemy was an educational tool to assist students in understanding chemical reactions through augmented reality in a 3D digital environment. Ms Ifeoma Amaechi’s products were presented by her colleague Ms. Melanie Ratman, who reported on ‘Ibuchi’ - a product of ethical sportswear that blends African culture with sustainability and fair trade.

A member asked how The Hub planned to keep up the momentum. Dr. Graffam responded that there was a monthly meeting to support, engage and inspire. A member asked what elements of the program had assisted in their success as women. Ms Ratman and Ms Abdinejab responded that having successful female role models at The Hub was critical to their success.

2b) Principal’s Report

Professor Tettey thanked and acknowledged the work of the The Hub and the entrepreneurs. Turning to his report, Professor Tettey reported that the UTSC Strategic Plan final draft was released to members of the community, and incorporated new feedback from the internal community, community partners, and senior leaders. The Plan would move through governance cycle 5.

Professor Tettey explained that the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) was struck down by the Divisional Court of Ontario but, pending the outcome of an appeal, the University was following the direction of the government.

Professor Tettey invited Andrew Arifuzzaman, Chief Administrative Officer, to provide an update on the UTSC Student Residence. Mr. Arifuzzaman explained that the request for proposal (RFP) process will close on February 11, 2020. He noted that the University was working with the City of Toronto on zoning and site plan approvals.

Professor Tettey provided an update on the activities to realize the University’s commitments under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) calls for action. He explained that the UTSC Elders Circle had 5 confirmed participants who would support UTSC via student counselling, engaging in events and lending expertise as needed. He confirmed that the City of Toronto had approved a ceremonial street name, [saw-gay-noon-da-whan-ay-uga] Way, for Military Trail at the intersection with Ellesmere Road. He invited Professor Gough, Vice Principal Academic and Dean, to give an update on faculty hires. Professor Gough announced the hiring of two accomplished creative writers as new faculty colleagues in the Department of English. Two other searches were ongoing. Finally, Professor Tettey provided some information to members about the coronavirus, clarifying that the University was monitoring the situation and providing updates to faculty, staff and students. He directed members to the campus homepage for information and indicated that Health officials had noted that the risk of contracting the virus remained low. He clarified that there was no reason not to attend class, or report to work because of the current situation. Should the situation change, the University would provide advice on the website and invoke relevant policies as needed. He also cautioned against stereotypically associating people with the virus, because of their racial or ethnic identities and backgrounds, thereby stigmatizing and discriminating against them.

A member asked about the availability of face masks for students. Sheila John, Assistant Dean, Health, Wellness, Physical Activity, Recreation & Sport was invited to respond to the question, and explained that students may be provided with a face mask if assessed by a medical professional as having certain symptoms, however the Health and Wellness Centre was not giving masks away.

A member asked if a student on campus was removed due to the virus. Mr. Arifuzzaman responded that he was not aware of this. Other members suggested that social media may be fueling rumors, and that the community should rely on formal channels for accurate information.

A member asked if there were policies in place if the situation changed into a crisis. Cheryl Regehr, Vice President and Provost explained that the university had hospital partners, and other polices in place such as the Policy on Academic Continuity and the Policy on Crisis and Routine Emergency Preparedness and Response.

  1. Council on Student Services Process, Presentation by Desmond Pouyat, Dean, Student Affairs

The Dean, Student Affairs, Desmond Pouyat delivered a Report to the Committee. The Report included the following key points:

  • On January 17, 2019, the Government of Ontario announced the Student Choice Initiative, which provided students with the choice to opt out of non-essential fees starting in fall 2019. Student Unions launched legal action, and the Government was appealing the divisional court decision that ruled against them.
  • The fees are now back to being mandatory, nevertheless, the fee approval process remained the same.
  • The Council on Student Service was described in the Policy on Compulsory Non-Academic Incidental Fees known as the ‘Protocol’. It was the responsible body of students involved in decisions to increase fees.​
  • Fifteen student members from various student groups formed the student membership.
  • The process included a series of meetings and working groups to ensure consultation. The final budget presentation and vote occurred on January 23, 2020.
  • The Administrative Assessor is permitted by the ‘Protocol’ to invoke a formula (the UTI and CPI Index Fee), should the budget vote fail.
  • Student Society Fees are first vetted through the Vice-Provost Student’s Office prior to submission to the Campus Affairs Committee, to ensure proposed increases are appropriate and adhere to the rules governing fee increases for the various societies.

A member asked when the results would be available. Mr. Pouyat responded that the documentation would be considered by the Campus Affairs Committee in February, and by Campus Council in March 2020.

  1. Tri-Campus Review, Presentation by Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost

The Provost presented an overview of the Tri-Campus Review which began in Spring 2018 and was nearing its conclusion. In her remarks, Professor Regehr noted that the working groups had been consulting for over a year, online, in one-on-one sessions and in group meetings.

The Provost reported that the Tri-Campus Review looked at tri-campus structures and tri-campus relationships across five pillars: Academic Planning and Academic Change; Graduate Units; Student Services; Administrative Structure; and Budget Relationships (the latter to be undertaken as part of the Budget Model Review).

The Provost shared recommendation highlights from each pillar, and explained that the recommendations would be synthesized into a final report and submitted to governance for information by the end of the academic year. A copy of the report would also be published on the Provost’s website.

  1. Final Report of the Student Mental Health Task Force and Administrative Response, Presentation by Cheryl Regehr, Vice President and Provost

The Provost presented an overview to the Administrative Response to the Final Report of the Student Mental Health Task Force. She explained that the Task Force Report provided 21 overall recommendations across five mandate areas: Services, Coordination, Partnerships, Space and Culture / Other. She reported that the University Administration had accepted all of the recommendations, and that some had already been implemented. She highlighted the new collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), as a partner to help achieve the goals identified by the Task Force.

A member asked if curriculum requirements at UTSC had been reconsidered to support mental health, as they had been in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Professor William Gough, Vice Principal and Academic Dean, responded that the Chair of Computer and Mathematical Sciences had been tasked with looking at this, and there was consultation with other departments as well, to ensure that changes were consistently and appropriately implemented.

A member asked if issues of student food security were considered as part of the Task Force. The Provost responded food security was not part of the Task Force mandate. Mr. Andrew Arifuzzaman shared that his office continued to work with Aramark, whose offerings now included expanded food service hours, a breakfast program and the acceptance of TBucks at some local restaurants.

A member asked about the student handcuffing incident at University of Toronto Mississauga in November 2019, and if this incident was under review by administration. The Provost responded that the University was committed to working on this issue with Campus Police on all three campuses. Sheila John, Assistant Dean, Health, Wellness, Physical Activity, Recreation & Sport was invited to respond to the question, and explained that in a very small number of cases, if a student was assessed as high risk, it may be determined that the safest way to escort them to a hospital for further assessment and treatment was with handcuffing.

The Chair accepted a request from a guest to ask a question, who asked how the Task Force Report intersected with AccessAbility Services. The Provost explained the plan to offer an institutional accommodation letter, rather than requiring students to register separately with each campus.

The Chair accepted a request from a guest to ask a question who shared concerns about the culture on campus, Task Force consultation process and student views not being heard. The Provost and members of the administration explained that while there had been an extensive consultation process towards the Task Force report, students should continue to bring forward concerns. Desmond Pouyat, Dean, Student Affairs, remarked that the new UTSC Mental Health Advisory Group’s membership consisted of a majority of students.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 38 - November 19, 2019

The report of the previous meeting was approved.

  1. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

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

  1. Reports for Information

Members received the following reports for information.

  1. Report Number 39 of the UTSC Agenda Committee (January 20, 2020)
  2. Report Number 41 of the UTSC Academic Affairs Committee (January 15, 2020)
  3. Report Number 35 of the UTSC Campus Affairs Committee (January 13, 2020)

    9. Date of the Next Meeting - Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

The Chair advised members that the Council would meet again on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

  1. Question Period

No questions were raised.

  1. Other Business

No other business was raised.

The meeting adjourned at 6:20 p.m.