The Campus Affairs Committee convened last Thursday to discuss the future goals and project plans for UTM. Among the topics discussed were details in the draft of the new Sexual Violence Action Plan and the 2016-2017 operating budget.
Students received an email at the beginning of the semester, detailing the university’s commitment to supporting victims of sexual violence.
According to Cheryl Regehr, U of T’s vice president and provost, the federal government requires all post-secondary institutions to draft a similar plan and have these procedures in effect as of January 1, 2017.
The plan, having been in development since 2014, ensures all students, staff, and faculty will receive support and resources against harassment, and that all disclosure will be confidential, according to Regehr.
One point in the draft that Regehr brought attention to was the expansion of the university’s jurisdiction when involved in assault reports. Previously, the school had no control if an attack occurred off campus, but this new draft gives the university the ability to act if the parties concerned are all community members of U of T.
Additionally, any online harassment can also be dealt with by the school, permitted that those involved are tied to the university.
Regehr did explain that if a victim came forward and was a student, but the accuser had no ties to the school, then the university would have no jurisdiction to pend an investigation.
Support will be given to all victims, but cases that require investigation can only be pursued if both parties involved belong to the U of T community.
Also present in the meeting was Nour Alideeb, president of UMTSU. She raised the issue of having a diverse group of support workers for students who belong to a wide variety of backgrounds and have experienced any sexual violence.
Regehr said that providing diversity is a priority, and is being taken into consideration. While there will be staff members hired to help students, volunteer positions will also be available to help provide a better representation for students in need.
Alideeb mentioned that UMSTU would be holding their own student-led consultation on September 27 in the Council Chambers in Davis Building, regarding the Sexual Violence Act.
Disclosure and reporting of an incident will be viewed as two separate entities. Disclosing the details of an incident of harassment or assault can be done to any member of the community, but that does not warrant a report.
Individuals are not required to proceed with a report or investigation in order to receive the services of the school if they wish to.
A sexual violence centre will also be established across all three campuses in order to promote a unified presence across the University of Toronto.
The committee also focused on goals for the school year and what upcoming projects UTM will be undergoing in the coming weeks. A main component of the discussion was the breakdown of the 2016-2017 operating budget.
Of the $2 billion allotted to U of T this year, $257 million is designated towards UTM.
The budget, based on the $257 million and designed last April, centered around the growth of UTM with regards to the intake of students as well as an increase in staff.
UTM experiences a growth in undergraduates every year, and so far, this year is expected to have an estimated 14,000 undergraduate students, according to a chart presented by Regehr in the meeting.
The committee reviewed how U of T has been attracting more international students, with more than half of them coming from Eastern Asian countries. The committee expressed a desire to equalize diversity with non-domestic students and try to appeal to different regions around the world.
With the large growth in student population, the committee looked at creating more spaces for them, including the construction of North Building Phase Two, as well as a new building designated towards the sciences.
Ulrich Krull, UTM’s new interim principal, emphasized the need to create a new building for the science department, explaining that the science department at UTM requires expansion.
Many of the buildings already on campus, according to Krull, have specific purposes, such as the Innovation Complex for Business, and the Hazel McCallion Learning Center for writing, but there is no designated space for the growing scientific community.
More information regarding investments of this new project are expected to be presented soon.
Krull also mentioned that the possibility of a Brampton campus at U of T has no longer been pursued. The idea of expanding into Brampton was previously discussed last year, but since then no plans have moved forward.
The next Campus Affairs meeting is on November 21.