Report: UTSC Campus Council - November 19, 2019

UTSC Council Chamber, Arts and Administration Building, Room AA160


To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Campus Council reports that it met on November 19, 2019 at 4:10 p.m. in the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) Council Chambers (AA160), with the following members present:

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

Fareed Amin, Maydianne Andrade, Andrew Arifuzzaman, Liben Gebremikael, Annie Sahagian

Secretariat: Anwar Kazimi, Rena Prashad, Emma Thacker (Secretary)

In Attendance: Cheryl Regehr - Vice-President & Provost, Sandy Welsh - Vice-Provost, Students, Jennifer Curry - Director, Office of the Vice President & Principal, Professor Kyle Danielson - Campus Affairs Committee (CAC) Member, Ellen Hodnett - University Ombudsperson, Jubayer Jalal - CAC Member, Shari Russell Opara - Manager, Health and Wellness, Desmond Pouyat - Dean, Student Affairs, Andrew Tam - CAC Member, Angela Treglia - Director, Sexual Violence Prevention Centre

*Telephone Participants


  1. Chair’s Remarks

The Chair welcomed members and guests to the Council meeting, including some members of the Campus Affairs Committee.  He offered a special welcome to Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost, and Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students. The Chair remarked that the 2020 governance elections were underway, and that an Information Session would be hosted by the Campus Council Secretariat on November 28 and December 3, 2019.

  1. Report of the Vice-President and Principal

The Chair invited Wisdom Tettey, Vice-President and Principal, to deliver his report.

       2a) UTSC Student Mental Health, Presentation by the Dean, Student Affairs

Professor Tettey remarked that mental health was an area where opportunities for dialogue across the community were important. He mentioned that, in tandem with the President’s and Provost’s Task Force on Student Mental Health, UTSC launched the Student Mental Health Advisory Committee. Professor Tettey introduced Desmond Pouyat, Dean, Student Affairs, and Shari Russell Opara, Manager, Health and Wellness, to provide an update on UTSC’s systemic approach to supporting student mental health. 

Mr. Pouyat and Ms Russell Opara shared background on the development of the systemic approach to mental health at UTSC, indicating that it was a collaborative effort including several internal groups and individuals, and community partners. The presenters explained the multi-pronged approach, which contained several levels including mental health awareness, community capacity, self-management competencies and coping skills, accessible mental health services and crisis management. To conclude the presenters discussed evaluation and improvement strategies, and the UTSC Student Mental Health Advisory Committee.  

A member asked about the most effective way for a student to become aware of the services that were available. Ms Russell Opara responded that the Health and Wellness website was up to date with this information. 

A member asked about strategies for awareness given existing stigma around mental health. Ms Russell Opara responded that peer support was one strategy. Mr. Pouyat added that offering multiple forums to discuss mental health issues supported awareness and he clarified it was an ongoing process.    

A member asked how the peer support team members were trained. Ms Russell Opara responded that there was specialized training for the student peers, which included SafeTALK training (suicide prevention).  

A member asked if there were strategies in place to reach English language learners to ensure awareness of services. Ms Russell Opara responded that the awareness strategies were multifaceted. She provided the example of a pilot initiative that provided resource information and an online chat and telephone option for international students which was offered in many languages. 

A member asked about timeliness of services. Mr. Pouyat responded that wait times, and timeliness of response is always of concern. He added that UTSC continues to address the issue as seen for instance in the relatively new 'walk in' counselling model, and in the embedding of counsellors within departments across campus. The member also asked about the assessment of student harassment cases. Angela Treglia, Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre, explained the process at UTSC.   

      2b) Principal’s Report

Professor Tettey thanked and acknowledged the work of the Office of Student Affairs and the Health and Wellness Centre around student mental health. Turning to his report, Professor Tettey reported that the UTSC Strategic Plan continued the consultation process with the internal and external community. A UTSC Town Hall was held on October 31, 2019 which provided further community input on the plan. A UTSC Strategic Plan Community Town Hall would be held for community members on November 26, 2019. The final Strategic Plan document would begin seeking governance consideration across several governance bodies in cycle three. 

Professor Tettey shared that a search for the new Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) was underway, and the incumbent will be announced in the new year. The EDI Office was increasing capacity with new coordinator hires underway. Kelly Crawford, Assistant Director, Indigenous Initiatives, was supporting numerous initiatives, reflecting commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations. Some of these initiatives include the Placemaking Sub-committee, Elders Circle creation, and development of a repository of knowledge keepers and teachers. Professor Tettey explained that updates were completed to the Terms of Reference of the TRC/Indigenous Initiatives Coordinating Group, for a transition to the UTSC Truth, Reconciliation and Indigenous Initiatives Advisory Committee, which would be effective in the Fall of 2020. It will have fewer senior administrators and more Indigenous representation (staff, faculty, students and external community). 

Professor Tettey shared an update regarding UTSC students studying in Hong Kong. The University was closely monitoring the situation and was in contact with local partners and all UTSC students. The University was working with students to support their safe arrival back to Toronto, should they so desire. 

Lastly, Professor Tettey provided an update on the Student Choice Initiative (SCI). He remarked that the numbers hovered between 25% and 31% opt-out and he shared several opt-out figures, including: UTSC Alcohol Education (31% opt-out); UTSC Equity Programs (28%); UTSC Family Care (27%); UTSC International Student Support (28%); UTSC Student Clubs (25%); and  UTSC Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre Space (25%). 

Professor Tettey commented that this was the final meeting before the holiday break, and wished all members and guests a healthy and happy holiday season. 

A member asked if the University had explored why the students chose to opt-out. Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students, agreed this was important. Professor Welsh added that price point and personal interest were two reasons, and that after a couple of cycles of data, more would be learned. 

  1. 2018-2019 Annual Report of the Office of the Ombudsperson, and the Administrative Response, Presentation by University Ombudsperson and Professor Emeritus, Ellen Hodnett  

The Chair invited Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett, Ombudsperson, to present her Annual Report.

Professor Hodnett stated that as part of her role, she reviewed the cases of the students to whom the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy was applied in its first year of implementation. She remarked that she was impressed and happy to see the extreme care with which the Policy was applied. In each case the students were being offered the help they needed. Professor Hodnett advised members that the Ombudsperson Office now had an Ombuds Officer on each campus and that a more robust communications and awareness strategy was underway. Professor Hodnett outlined two of the recommendations made in the Ombudsperson’s Report, which included a recommendation for the School of Graduate Studies to develop an initiative surrounding best practices and characteristics of optimal lab learning environments. In addition, it was recommended that the Administration consider how undergraduate students who are on leave from the University, for a variety of reasons, may opt into paying for ancillary services which may help them to return successfully to their studies.

A member asked how members of the community access the various campus Ombuds Officers. Professor Hodnett responded that all requests for assistance moved through a central confidential Ombuds portal. Typically, each Officer would flag and respond to their own campus cases, however when there was a conflict of interest, another Officer would take on the case. 

A member asked about cases that fell under the health and wellness category in the report, and inquired how these cases were handled. Professor Hodnett responded that often the complaint was about the services themselves. Other times, an individual would be redirected to the Health and Wellness Centre or an accessibility office.

  1. Review of the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, Presentation by Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost

The Chair invited Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President & Provost, to present the results of the review of the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Professor Regehr provided a history of the Policy, explaining that it was approved in 2016 based on recommendations from the Expert Panel on Sexual Violence Policies. She remarked that the review of the Policy was pushed up due to government imposed timelines. The review included extensive consultation and consideration of the University’s approach to preventing sexual violence, which included the Policy, a companion guide, and the work of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre. Stemming from suggestions made during the consultation, she outlined changes to the Policy including:   

  • Several definitions were added for clarity, including definitions for ‘interim measures’, ‘interim conditions’, and 'non-adjudicative resolution’;
  • A reference to the Student’s Companion Guide was added; and
  • The role of the Office of Safety and High-Risk in maintaining the database of reports was clarified.

A member asked if there was strategy to educate international students about the Policy, as there were cultural components to the Policy. Professor Regehr responded that all students were educated on the Policy and provided the example of Orientation. She added that education and awareness was collaborative and included a partnership between student leaders, the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students and the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre.  

  1. Code of Student Conduct – Revisions, Presentation by Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students

The Chair invited Professor Welsh, to provide an oral report, for information. Professor Welsh remarked that the passing of the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment necessitated some technical changes to the Code of Student Conduct, which set out expectations for student behaviour and prescribed processes for dealing with behaviour that was prohibited under the Code. The technical changes to the Code were as follows:

  • The definition of sexual violence in the Code was changed to align with the definition within the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment;
  • ‘Division Head’, as outlined in the Code, was clarified to be the Vice-Provost, Students for offences of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment;
  • Changes were made to the range of sanctions a Hearing Officer could impose, and a Hearing Officer’s ability to adjust the process of the Hearing as appropriate;
  • Updates were made to the language pertaining to vexatious conduct to reflect the Ontario Human Rights Code; and
  • Updates were made to the names of relevant offices, and clarification for various administrative processes (such as the where records were stored) to ensure due process and fairness.
  1. Budget Model Review, Presentation by Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost

The Chair invited Professor Regehr to present an update on the Budget Model Review (BMR). Professor Regehr noted the BMR had begun in Spring 2018 and was nearing its conclusion. Professor Regehr explained that the University’s budget model was adopted in 2006, and that the last review was conducted in 2010-2011. She remarked that as provincial support continued to decline and began to shift toward performance-based metrics, it was an appropriate time to ensure that the budget model would continue to serve the University well into the future. 

The objective of the BMR was to improve budgetary processes across a number of different areas and to consider new sources of income. The Steering Committee played a key role in harmonizing the recommendations of the five working groups, as follows:  

  • Inter-Divisional Teaching Working Group; 
  • Alternative Funding Sources Advisory Group; 
  • Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) Budget Implementation Committee; 
  • Operational Excellence Working Group; and 
  • Tri-Campus Budget Relationships Working Group. 

Professor Regehr discussed the recommendations stemming from the various working groups, and indicated that the review was scheduled to conclude by December 2019. 

In response to a member’s question about SMA metrics, Professor Regehr provided an example and noted that the University continued to be in discussion with the government about SMA-3. Another member expressed concern that the metrics would drive unintended change and consequence in the quality of teaching. Professor Regehr assured members that academic decisions at the University would continue to be values-focused, not metrics-focused.

  1. UTSC Campus Strategic Priorities, Presentation by Vice-President and Principal, Wisdom Tettey

The Chair invited Professor Tettey to present the Campus Strategic Priorities. Professor Tettey provided an overview of the key strategic initiatives that UTSC planned to address in the coming Academic Budget Review process, and also as part of the Strategic Plan. He discussed enrolment challenges such as below-target domestic enrolment, insufficient diversification of international student source countries, and lower than desired reputation and profile. Professor Tettey shared that efforts would also focus on enhancing the student experience, including addressing mental health, curriculum renewal and physical space. To support inclusive excellence, there would be initiatives to grow the complement of students, staff and faculty from underrepresented groups. Resources would also be devoted to building infrastructure to support teaching enhancements, and research excellence and innovation. 

A member asked how faculty were supported in developing cultural competencies. Professor Tettey agreed that this was integral to inclusion on campus, as were other elements of developing informed pedagogy and would be addressed within the Strategic Plan. 

A member asked how the University would proactively support English language learners so they did not feel isolated. Professor Tettey responded that language and writing proficiency was critical, but it should be seen as one of many areas that we need to work on, not only to enhance academic outcomes but also to enrich the overall student experience. He remarked that services have and will be reorganized to better support the whole person, which would address these barriers. 

A member asked how UTSC was working with other complementary institutions (e.g., Centennial College) and community partners such as the Toronto Zoo, to support the broader issues and goals surrounding diversity and inclusion. Professor Tettey responded that there were existing collaborations with these institutions and other local institutions, and that the upcoming UTSC Strategic Plan Community Town Hall (November 26) would in part explore prospective opportunities and collaborative initiatives. 

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 37 - September 25, 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 38 of the UTSC Agenda Committee (November 11, 2019)
  2. Report Number 40 of the UTSC Academic Affairs Committee (October 29, 2019)
  1. Date of the Next Meeting - Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

The Chair advised members that the Council would meet again on Tuesday, January 28, 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.