Messages to the University community

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Please see below for the latest community updates from U of T leadership. Supports and resources for students, faculty, staff and librarians can be found here.

Yesterday morning, lawyers representing the University served court documents commencing a legal process to end the encampment.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has arranged a case conference today to discuss the scheduling of the motion.

The University is seeking an interlocutory injunction to end the encampment. All documents will be posted publicly at litigate.com/UofTinjunction.

Dear U of T community,

Yesterday we met again with students representing those in the encampment on the St. George Campus. Our next meeting is on Wednesday. We continue with discussions to reach a negotiated end to the unauthorized encampment. We also continue to pursue legal action to restore the use of King’s College Circle to the entire University community.

Thank you for your patience. I will continue to keep you updated.

Sincerely,

Meric S. Gertler
President

Dear U of T community,

This morning, lawyers representing the University of Toronto served documents seeking an injunction order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and asked the court for an expedited case conference for scheduling.

In addition to pursuing this legal avenue to return King’s College Circle to the University community, we continue to engage in discussions with students representing those in the encampment. We held a long and productive meeting yesterday and are meeting again today. We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement and bring the unauthorized encampment to an end.

Thank you for your patience. I will continue to keep you updated.

Sincerely,

Meric Gertler
President

Please see attached a Notice of Trespass which applies to anyone at the encampment on the Front Campus at King’s College Circle on the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto.

Front Campus is University of Toronto private property. On April 28, 2024, the University of Toronto communicated with its community to remind its members of the University of Toronto’s commitment to free expression and lawful and peaceful protest, as well as the necessary limits that accompany those freedoms. The University made it clear on April 28th and subsequently that unauthorized activities such as encampments or the occupation of University buildings are considered trespassing. Specifically, our Code of Student Conduct prohibits intentional damage to University property, unauthorized entry and use of University property contrary to instructions, disruptions of University activities, and other offenses to property and persons.

Nevertheless, on May 2, 2024, many people entered Front Campus and began an encampment, contrary to the University of Toronto’s express direction and many University policies, including but not limited to the Code of Student Conduct. The University has negotiated in good faith with encampment participants since that date. Encampment participants have however continued to unlawfully occupy Front Campus. During this period of time, there have been many health and safety concerns. In addition, the encampment has created an environment on campus that is contrary to the University’s commitment to fostering a welcoming and safe community for all members to partake of and express themselves freely. Moreover, a shared used space on our campus has been taken over by the encampment to the exclusion of others. The fundamental principle of inclusion – one that extends to physical space on our campuses – has been violated.

On Thursday, May 23, 2024, the University of Toronto made a full and fair offer to the encampment participants. That offer was not accepted by the deadline set out. As a result, we are delivering the enclosed Notice of Trespass. Occupying Front Campus at King’s College Circle has been and remains unauthorized by the University. If the encampment participants do not vacate Front Campus at King’s College Circle by Monday, May 27, 2024 at 8 a.m., the University will be taking all necessary legal steps including seeking an Order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
 



NOTICE OF TRESPASS

To All Encampment Participants,

This is a notice under the Trespass to Property Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. T.21. You are hereby given notice that you are prohibited from:

  1. Occupying, entering or remaining at King’s College Circle and Front Campus without authorization;
     
  2. Erecting, installing or maintaining unauthorized tents, shelters, equipment, or other structures on University property, including but not limited to Front Campus at King’s College Circle;
     
  3. Occupying, or gathering or remaining at University of Toronto property including, but not limited to, King’s College Circle and Front Campus between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless specifically authorized; and
     
  4. Gathering at University of Toronto property including, but not limited to, King’s College Circle and Front Campus without authorization pursuant to the University of Toronto Procedures for the Temporary Use of Space.

If you do not comply and remain in the encampment at King’s College Circle and Front Campus after Monday, May 27, 2024 at 8 a.m the University will pursue consequences under University policies and the law.

This notice may be enforced in accordance with the provisions of the Trespass to Property Act by any other legal means available to the University. Under the Trespass to Property Act, every person who engages in an activity on premises when the activity has been prohibited under the Act is guilty of an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $10,000.

Students may be subject to disciplinary action under the Code of Student Conduct (the “Code”). Your access to campus may be limited and, in some cases, you may be suspended and trespassed while the Code process is pending. Sanctions under the Code can be as severe as a five-year suspension or a recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion.

Faculty members, librarians and staff may be subject to disciplinary measures up to and including termination of employment, in accordance with the relevant university policies and/or the applicable collective agreement(s) and/or the Memorandum of Agreement with UTFA.

Dear U of T community,

Today, I asked a team of administrative leaders to present the University’s offer for resolution to the students representing those in the encampment on King’s College Circle. This step follows many hours of in-person meetings and multiple email exchanges between the students and University administrators. From day one, our goal has been to achieve a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the unauthorized encampment.

For the past three weeks, we have demonstrated tremendous patience while a shared-use space on our campus has been taken over by the encampment to the exclusion of others. The fundamental principle of inclusion – one that extends to physical spaces on our campuses – has been violated. Discrimination and harassment have been experienced on campus by members of our community since the encampment began, with incidents being reported to Toronto Police Service in some cases, and the University addressing concerns directly with student organizers in others.

Our measured approach has been guided by our shared values, which include the right to protest and freedom of expression within the limits of University policies and the law.

The University’s offer

Our priority until now has been to focus on direct conversation with student representatives of the encampment, with the aim of reaching an agreement. Given the duration of the encampment and the growing strain on our community, we now believe it is appropriate to share a summary of our offer, which has been submitted to representatives of the encampment for consideration within the next 24 hours. The offer is outlined below:

Presidential statement:

  • I will issue a public statement reaffirming the University’s commitment to academic freedom, human rights, and international cooperation.

Divestment: 

  • Student representatives will be invited to the Business Board of Governing Council on June 19th to present their demands.
  • Upon receipt of the necessary brief and petition, the University will engage in – and expedite, where possible – a review of the divestment request under the terms and process of the University’s Policy on Social and Political Issues with Respect to University Divestment.
    • The University will provide resources to support the process, including preparation of the brief and petition.
    • The President will establish an Advisory Committee to review the brief, in line with the Policy.
      • It will be chaired by a senior University officer.
      • It will be composed of faculty, staff, students and alumni with relevant expertise, whose selection minimizes conflicts of interest with respect to the issues relevant to the divestment request.
    • Student representatives of the encampment group may suggest qualified individuals to be considered for membership on the Advisory Committee that will conduct the review, though the final decision regarding membership will rest with the Executive Committee of Governing Council, on the recommendation of the President.
    • The student representatives will have the opportunity to make submissions to the Advisory Committee, which will also consult with experts and other members of the University community.
    • The Advisory Committee will be instructed to work expeditiously, with the goal of issuing its report and recommendations by no later than the end of October.
    • The President will consider the Advisory Committee’s report and make a decision on next steps in a timely manner.

Disclosure of investments:

  • The University will strike an expert working group to consider options for disclosure and increased transparency related to the University’s investments, with recommendations to the President.
    • Student representatives of the encampment group may put forward names of qualified individuals for membership in the working group, with the President ultimately determining its membership.
    • Student representatives may make submissions to the working group, which will also consult with relevant stakeholders, experts, and other members of the University community.
  • The working group will be instructed to make best efforts to deliver its recommendations by mid-July, and the President will respond to the recommendations within three weeks. 

Academic ties: 

  • The University will not terminate any partnerships with Israeli universities or attempt to curtail scholars’ academic freedom in any way. The University rejects calls for cutting ties with international partner institutions or engaging in academic boycotts because these actions would be at odds with our commitment to academic freedom, the unfettered global circulation of people and ideas, and advancing understanding by fostering collaboration and dialogue.
  • The University’s approach is to build bridges and expand partnerships. We continue active discussions to increase opportunities for Palestinian scholars and faculty and to enrich Palestinian studies at the University. This work commenced well before the beginning of the encampment and will continue regardless of whether the students accept the terms of our offer.  These initiatives mirror our existing collaborations with Israeli scholars on topics that include, among other subjects, the study of antisemitism and hate speech.

The offer above is conditional on the encampment clearing and not resuming at any campus of the University. All participants in the encampment must also refrain from disrupting Convocation activities, which so many graduands and families are preparing to celebrate at this special time of year.

The encampment must end. Our approach remains guided by our effort to balance our shared values, people’s foundational rights and freedoms, and a desire for a peaceful resolution. We hope that the representatives will accept our offer. Should an agreement not be reached, the University will take further action.

I understand how concerning these last few weeks have been for members of our community, many of whom have expressed their views to us directly. I thank everyone for their patience under these difficult circumstances. I will update the community further on Monday.

Sincerely,

Meric Gertler
President

Dear U of T community,

University representatives met again yesterday with students representing those at the encampment. This meeting is the latest in a series of discussions that have taken place.

The discussion was constructive and productive. Much of the focus at the meeting was on discussing the students’ demands.

The University and student representatives have worked together to mitigate the prior concerns regarding sanitation. Moreover, the ceremonial fire inside the encampment is burning under the careful supervision of experienced Indigenous Firekeepers in a manner that suits the unique conditions of the site. We continue to discuss signs and language and emphasize how important it is that they be consistent with the spirit of peaceful protest.

We aim to reconvene soon. We recognize that our entire community has a stake in this matter. Our next community update will be sent early next week, and all updates continue to be posted on the UTogether site.

Our goal remains the same: to find a peaceful and sustainable conclusion to the encampment on Front Campus as soon as possible, in line with University principles and policies.

Sincerely,

Christine Szustaczek
Vice President Communications

Dear U of T Community, 

Over the weekend, members of the University of Toronto administration and student representatives from the encampment on the St. George campus met to discuss substantive issues. While we understand that many in our community will be interested in the substance of our conversation, we are choosing not to share details at this time, in order to enable dialogue.  

Our actions are guided by our foundational commitment to the right to protest and freedom of expression, within the limits of University policies and the law.  

We recognize the range of emotions and opinions regarding the encampment and the students’ demands. We are also aware of the deep toll this situation is taking on so many members of our community. Please know that the University is working hard to find a peaceful resolution.  

Periodic updates will continue to be posted on the UTogether site

Sincerely,

Christine Szustaczek
Vice-President, Communications

  1. Is the University open?

    Yes, all three U of T campuses are open, and summer term classes are underway. 
     
  2. Is the University limiting students’ rights to protest? 

    The University encourages the fullest range of debate, and has been the site of many protests, marches, and rallies over the years. Some have been loud or have filled spaces on our campus, but these events have not generally limited the use of those spaces by others for extended periods or risked the health and safety of community members. 

    The existing encampment is limiting the use of a large shared-use space on the St. George campus. It entails health and safety risks for individuals in the encampment and for other members of the community, and it contravenes U of T policy on the temporary use of university space

    We have therefore asked that the encampment be dismantled. We are not, however, seeking to limit students’ rights to protest.
     
  3. Why is U of T allowing the encampment to continue? 

    U of T’s grounds and buildings are private property, and we have informed encampment participants that unauthorized activities such as encampments or the occupation of University buildings are considered trespassing. Our goal is to find a peaceful resolution, and we are talking to student representatives of individuals in the encampment to achieve this. 
     
  4. What about hate speech and concerning incidents?

    The University has a high threshold for expression, and that can include speech and imagery that is uncomfortable and offensive to some. The threshold does not permit discrimination or harassment. When that threshold is crossed, or where there are threats or acts of violence, the University will act to protect and support its community. Such action might not be immediate, but consequences will be pursued through the law and university policy.

    There have been concerning incidents in or around the encampment, including reported assaults and hate speech. It is not clear how many of these involve individuals inside the encampment or members of the public. Suspected crime will be reported to the Toronto Police Service, and 24/7 supports are available to U of T community members
     
  5. What are you doing to support members of the community impacted by the encampment and protests? 

    We have increased Campus Safety presence on the St. George campus, and the Institutional Equity Office has developed a collection of resources to support community members. Any member of the community may request support or assistance at any time by visiting the University's safety resources page or, in an emergency, by calling 911.
     
  6. How is the University monitoring the encampment and counter protests? 

    Our accountability for the health and safety of our community is a critical priority. We have increased Campus Safety presence on the St. George campus. Our goal remains to find a peaceful conclusion to the unauthorized encampment as soon as possible, without the risk of violent confrontation or physical injury. 

    The University of Toronto is not using any form of facial recognition technology. There is a camera on site near the encampment area that was installed during recent construction on front campus. It was not installed to monitor the encampment.

    We are receiving videos of altercations and concerning speech from members of our community, which we are sharing with Toronto Police Services as appropriate. 
     
  7. Will the university use force or call in police to remove tents?

    Our goal remains to find a peaceful conclusion to the unauthorized encampment as soon as possible, without the risk of violent confrontation or physical injury. 
     
  8. Has the university responded to the demands of the encampment participants?

    On April 3, President Gertler met with members of Occupy for Palestine to hear their concerns and requests. On April 8, he responded to their requests.  The University is continuing to correspond with the student representatives of participants in the encampment. We are currently focused on our responsibility for the health, safety, and security of our students and we need to address these issues in the encampment as quickly as possible. We look forward to resolving these concerns so we can move to the substantive discussions that both participants in the encampment and the University want to have. 
     
  9. Will U of T’s Spring 2024 convocation ceremony continue as scheduled?

    Yes, convocation will proceed as planned at Convocation Hall. 
  10. How will this end?

    Our goal is to find a peaceful conclusion to the unauthorized encampment on King’s College Circle as quickly as possible, without the risk of violent confrontation or physical injury. Members of the U of T administration continue to be in contact with U of T student representatives of the individuals in the encampment. 

Dear U of T community,

We will continue to work towards dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the encampment at the St. George campus. We have repeatedly asked organizers of the encampment to urgently address concerning safety issues before any further discussions take place.

We have witnessed:  

  •  Hateful messages and speech as well as altercations 
  • Large piles of firewood inside the fenced-off encampment area
  • Two fires burning inside the fenced area 
  • Blocked reinforced exit points, which prevent safe passage in case of fire or medical emergency
  • Impeded routes for emergency vehicles around the perimeter of the encampment
  • Significant tent and population density within the fenced area
  • Non-U of T community members entering, leaving or staying in the encampment overnight
  • Attempts by unauthorized vehicles to gain access to a pedestrian area of campus and drive into the encampment

Because of the ongoing encampment, two demonstrations numbering in the thousands (including some with flares and smoke bombs) have come to University grounds well into the evening. As the summer term has begun, students are living in nearby residence buildings, and this poses an additional safety risk.

We know that some members of our community feel unwelcome and unsafe on campus due to the encampment. We must reiterate that the University accepts and encourages the widest range of debate, and has a high threshold for expression, including speech and imagery that is uncomfortable and offensive to some. Discrimination and harassment exceed this threshold. We are committed to peaceful protest.

Our accountability for the health and safety of our community is a critical priority. We look forward to resolving these concerns and moving on to substantive discussions as quickly as possible.

We will continue to send periodic updates, and you can find a list of frequently asked questions on UTogether.

Sincerely,

Professor Sandy Welsh 
Vice-Provost, Students 
 
Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat 
Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture

Today, the university continued its correspondence with representatives of participants in the encampment on the St. George campus.  

We are currently focused on our responsibility for the health, safety, and security of our students and we need to address these issues in the encampment as quickly as possible. We look forward to resolving these concerns so we can move to the substantive discussions that both participants in the encampment and the University want to have.

Dear U of T community,

Following a weekend that saw the continued presence of an encampment on the St. George campus, as well as visits by external community supporters and counter-protesters, today marks the first day of class for the summer term. With many students now in residence and more coming to campus to attend classes, ensuring the safety of our entire community is a pressing priority.

Our goal remains the same: to find a peaceful conclusion to the unauthorized encampment as soon as possible, without the risk of violent confrontation or physical injury. Members of the U of T administration met in good faith with U of T student representatives of the individuals in the encampment over the weekend. Our discussions have been constructive, and we see a way forward. 

In the meantime, we are working with these student representatives to address our concerns about health and safety, sanitation, emergency and public access, and language that is threatening, hateful and discriminatory. Over the weekend, critical modifications were made to the fencing around King’s College Circle to enhance safety. We hope to implement temporary sanitation improvements and additional changes to the fence this week to create even safer surroundings for all community members and minimize health risks. 

We remain concerned about large numbers of the broader public coming to campus for rallies and marches. There have been several incidents of particular concern, including reported assaults and hate speech. It is not clear how many of these involve individuals inside the encampment or members of the public. We have forwarded four reports to Project Resolute, a Toronto Police Service initiative to fight antisemitism and Islamophobia, for further investigation.

We recognize that this situation is challenging for many.  We will post updates as they are available at www.utoronto.ca/utogether.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

Professor Sandy Welsh
Vice-Provost Students

Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat
Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity and Culture

Dear U of T community,

As has been widely reported by news media, what began as a peaceful protest yesterday morning evolved throughout the day. Last night, a significant number of individuals, many from outside the U of T community, were on the St. George campus for a large rally. Today, encampment participants and many tents remain on site. We have also seen small counter-protests. The campus remains open, and academic and operational activities are proceeding as usual.

We have been communicating with a student representative of the participants in the encampment through in-person meetings and written correspondence. We have conveyed our expectations and shared our observations regarding actions that have contravened them, including lack of crowd control, health and safety risks, destruction of property, and use of language that is considered discriminatory, threatening or hateful. We have made it clear that these activities fall outside of our policies and relevant law and are considered unauthorized on our private property; this puts those who are in the encampment at risk of being charged with trespass and destruction of property.

The University has received several questions and reports of concerning language as described above being used in signs and chants. Please know that we take these seriously and all instances are being reviewed.

Effective 5pm today, most University buildings will be locked this weekend and require fob-access, as per normal practice. Gerstein Library and Robarts Library will remain open to members of the U of T community.

We recognize there are diverse views in our community about the current situation. We continue to focus on avoiding conflict, being measured in our response, and fostering an environment that makes space for debate. We urge everyone to engage constructively with one another.

All of our communications on this matter and resources for our community can be found on www.utoronto.ca/utogether. We remain hopeful that we will come to a peaceful resolution.

Sincerely,

Professor Sandy Welsh
Vice-Provost, Students

Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat
Vice President, People Strategy, Equity and Culture

Dear U of T Occupy for Palestine,

We appreciate you maintaining an open line of communication with the University administration. Your protest has been mostly peaceful, though it has been disruptive to regular university business.

Our property is private. You do not have our permission to be here after 10pm. In our communications with a representative of your group today, we reiterated our request that you leave campus by 10pm. However, if your activities remain peaceful, we do not intend to remove you from campus this evening.

Our concerns about safety are increasing. You have called for others to join your protest and the numbers have grown significantly since this afternoon. We are concerned that many of the individuals present may not be U of T students or other members of the U of T community. We have asked you, on several occasions, to identify a U of T student liaison and you have not provided one.

You will see higher numbers of Campus Safety Special Constables nearby. We are aware that the Toronto Police Service is monitoring the protest. Please encourage others to remain peaceful. We ask that you be mindful of noise tonight as we have students and staff living in residence nearby.

Hate speech, threats, and other discriminatory language or behaviour do not constitute peaceful protest.

Sincerely,

Sandy Welsh
Vice-Provost, Students

Dear U of T Community,

Early this morning, a protest began on the St. George campus and tents have been set up on the front campus grounds. University administration and campus safety are in touch with a representative of the group and have shared a communication on protests and civil disobedience that outlines our expectations for peaceful and lawful protest. The University is open and some buildings in the vicinity are on restricted access. All updates to the community will be posted at utoronto.ca/utogether.

The University has been the site of many protests, marches, and rallies over the years. Some have been loud or have filled spaces on our campus, but these events have not generally limited the use of those spaces by others for extended periods.

At other universities, we are seeing protests in the form of encampments and a range of institutional responses. I want to share with you the principles we will apply at the University of Toronto.

  • Peaceful protest does not include the use of physical force, threats or intimidation, or the occupation of spaces that prevents their use by others.
  • Likewise, hate speech, threats, and other discriminatory language or behaviour do not constitute peaceful protest and will not be tolerated on our campuses.
  • In a recent message to academic leaders regarding institutional statements, the University confirmed that it does not act as an arbiter among competing positions on complex issues, but instead works to create the conditions in which a diversity of viewpoints can be elaborated and expressed.
  • Engaging in activities that contravene law or policies – such as remaining on grounds or in buildings after notice to leave, or erecting structures or barriers in outdoor spaces – can have potential consequences.

While we welcome and encourage the full and frank exchange of ideas at U of T, we will not tolerate actions that contravene our policies or that break the law, that introduce hate speech or that threaten the physical safety of U of T community members. For your reference, all the communications on this topic can be found at utoronto.ca/utogether.

Sincerely,

Sandy Welsh 
Vice-Provost, Students

The University respects our members’ rights to assemble and protest. Protest activities must remain peaceful and lawful.

Actions that create a health and safety risk; that interfere with the ability of students, faculty, librarians and staff to learn, teach, research and work on our campuses; or that disrupt or impede other University activities are not permitted. The University has a duty of care to our students, faculty, librarians and staff.

U of T’s grounds and buildings are private property. Unauthorized activities such as encampments or the occupation of University buildings are considered trespassing.

To assist you in understanding the University’s expectations for a peaceful protest, we are providing you with the following information:

  • Hate speech, threats, and other discriminatory language or behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • No structures of any sort – tents, shelters, etc. – may be erected.
  • No fires, flames, camp stoves, propane or other fuel sources are permitted.
  • U of T campuses are smoke- and vape-free.
  • No illegal drug use or alcohol consumption are permitted.
  • Protesting will not be permitted after 10:00 p.m.
  • Protest activities must not disrupt scheduled University activities.
  • No excessive noise, megaphones, or amplifiers within 50 metres of University residences.
  • Blocking traffic routes, including right-of-way for fire and emergency vehicles, is prohibited.
  • Blocking access to buildings and grounds is prohibited.
  • Disrupting safe entry and exit for U of T employees and students from buildings and other University grounds, facilities and areas is prohibited.
  • You may be asked to identify yourself, including showing a U of T ID.

Various laws and University policies may apply to your activity, including the Ontario Trespass to Property Act, the U of T Code of Student Conduct, and the Policy on the Temporary Use of Space. We expect your activities to stay within the parameters of University policies and the law. Behaviour outside these parameters will be addressed by Campus Safety and may be reported to law enforcement authorities.

Dear students,

At this time of heightened tensions, when protests are taking place on many university campuses, I am writing to remind you of the University of Toronto’s commitment to free expression and lawful and peaceful protest, as well as the necessary limits that accompany those freedoms.

Freedom of expression is central to the University of Toronto’s mission of learning and discovery. The University’s Statement on Freedom of Speech notes that “all members of the University must have as a prerequisite freedom of speech and expression, which means the right to examine, question, investigate, speculate, and comment on any issue without reference to prescribed doctrine, as well as the right to criticize the University and society at large.” The statement also makes clear that all members of our community have the freedom “to engage in peaceful assemblies and demonstrations.”

The University respects our members’ rights to assemble and protest within the limits of U of T policies and the law. The University also has a duty of care to our students. Actions that create a health and safety risk, that interfere with the ability of students, faculty, librarians and staff to learn, teach, research and work on our campuses, or that disrupt or impede other University activities are not permitted.

U of T’s lands and buildings are private property, though the University allows wide public access to them for authorized activities. Unauthorized activities such as encampments or the occupation of University buildings are considered trespassing. Specifically, our Code of Student Conduct prohibits intentional damage to University property, unauthorized entry and use of University property contrary to instructions, disruptions of University activities, and other offenses to property and persons.

Any student involved in unauthorized activities or conduct that contravenes University policies or the law may be subject to consequences. We ask that you engage productively with one another to fulfill our mutual obligation to provide a welcoming and safe community in which all members can express themselves.

Best regards,

Professor Sandy Welsh
Vice-Provost, Students

The University issued a memo on institutional, divisional, and departmental statements for academic administrators. View the original post.

Update on April 22: Bargaining teams from the TTC and CUPE Local 2 have reached a tentative agreement, avoiding job action and potential service disruptions. While the collective agreement still needs to be ratified by CUPE Local 2 members, there will not be a strike at this time.

A possible TTC service disruption due to a potential strike by some TTC workers may begin on Monday, April 22.

As a result, there may be TTC service delays on Monday which could impact travel to campus for final exams or other on-campus activities.

U of T encourages all community members to monitor TTC service advisories and service alerts to ensure you have sufficient time to travel to campus in the event of a transit disruption. We will continue to monitor this situation throughout the day.

More than a week has passed since the tragic events of October 7 – beginning with the unspeakable atrocities committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians, actions that shocked and horrified many around the world. 

Since then, we have watched in horror and dread as the number of Palestinian civilian casualties has soared following Israel’s military response. We have also reacted with shock and concern as food, water, and electricity have been withheld from Gaza, creating untold hardship for many Palestinians. 

We continue to express our profound grief for the victims of violence on both sides of this conflict – Jews and Arabs, inhabitants of Gaza and Israel. 

As we look ahead to the coming days, this is an appropriate time to reflect on how we should conduct ourselves as individual members of a large and diverse community. It is also useful to consider the wider role of the university in challenging times.

In the midst of such a conflict, in which violence and suffering on both sides have evoked deep memories of historical injustices and caused great pain, how should we comport ourselves? The privilege of belonging to an academic community such as ours brings certain rights and opportunities, as well as obligations and responsibilities.

Universities are first and foremost places where contending and competing views engage with one another – ideally in ways that are evidence-based and grounded in disciplinary expertise. In an increasingly polarized world, universities have a special responsibility to enable and accommodate such dialogue. As the home to scholarly experts in many fields, supported by foundational rights of academic freedom and freedom of expression, we are uniquely able to host constructive debate and foster deeper understanding of complex issues. 

At a time like this, such a responsibility has never been more important. Our university must demonstrate to the world how civil, informed debate about difficult issues can be conducted. This means that uncomfortable, even upsetting positions will be expressed by members of our community. It is our collective duty to ensure that such perspectives, so long as they are lawful, continue to be heard, and that those who disagree can safely engage in respectful debate. And we have an obligation to share our expertise more widely, to inform public discourse and deepen understanding.

This is also a time when we should take extra care in how we interact with our colleagues: faculty members and librarians, staff and – most importantly, students. Emotions are running high, and members of our community are feeling deep anguish, pain, anger, and fear. I ask you to be mindful of this and demonstrate empathy as you engage with one another – in person, through social media, and through other means of communication. 

We also have an obligation to provide an environment for teaching, learning and research that is free from discrimination, racism, hate or fear. There is no place for antisemitism, Islamophobia or celebrations of violence of any sort. We should be especially mindful of the diversity of views, experiences and perspectives within our own local communities – academic units and campuses, student government bodies and more. 

Let us instead 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. The University of Toronto community has shown this kind of leadership many times over the course of our two centuries. It is time for us to step forward once again.

Sincerely,  

Meric S. Gertler 
President 

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On behalf of the U of T community, I wish to extend deepest sympathies to all those affected by the destructive earthquakes in Afghanistan over the weekend.

No students are currently registered as being in Afghanistan, and we are not aware of any of our faculty or staff currently in the country, but many in our community have strong ties to the area. We have reached out directly to offer support to students from the region who are studying at U of T, as well as faculty, staff and librarians with known connections.

We encourage affected members of our community to make use of the academic and personal support resources below.

Thank you for supporting one another during this difficult time.

Joseph Wong
Vice-President, International

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The University of Toronto is deeply saddened by the attack on Israel’s civilian population, the outbreak of war this past weekend, and the ongoing volatility in the region. We condemn terrorist violence and express our horror at the kidnapping of civilians.  We share our immense grief for the loss of life and offer our heartfelt condolences to all those suffering in Israel and Palestine and to everyone who has been personally impacted.

The University joins the international community in its calls for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, grounded in dialogue.

Over the weekend, we immediately contacted our students in the region and confirmed their safety. We have also reached out to international students from the region studying at U of T to offer our support. The University recognizes that many in our community have direct and indirect ties to the Middle East and we are concerned for everyone’s well-being.

Students in need of immediate support are asked to contact U of T Telus Health Student Support at 1-844-451-9700. Faculty, staff and librarians are encouraged to contact the Employee and Family Assistance Program at 1-855-597-2110.

Students seeking academic support services and/or considerations are advised as follows:

As in any conflict, members of our community will hold strong and opposing views. In keeping with the University’s unwavering commitment to the values of diversity, inclusion and the open exchange of ideas, we urge our community to engage in respectful dialogue.

Joseph Wong
Vice-President, International

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Over the past few days, the University of Toronto community has been alarmed and saddened to hear of the significant loss of life caused by natural disasters in North Africa. On Sept. 8, Morocco experienced a devastating earthquake that killed and injured thousands of people and left many more homeless and vulnerable. Over the weekend, catastrophic flooding hit parts of Libya, with thousands of people feared dead or missing and entire neighbourhoods reportedly swept away. With rescue and recovery efforts only beginning, the full scale of both disasters is still unfolding. On behalf of the U of T community, I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives or suffered from these catastrophes. With our deepening ties to Africa, events like these have an increasingly profound impact here in Toronto.

We have contacted all University of Toronto students who have registered with U of T Safety Abroad for academic activities in Morocco, and I am relieved to let you know that they are safe. No students are currently registered as being in Libya. We are not aware of any of our faculty or staff currently in either country.

This is a challenging time for our students, faculty, staff and librarians who have personal and professional connections in North Africa. We encourage affected members of our community to take full advantage of the academic, personal support and safety resources below. Student support staff on each of the campuses have reached out directly to impacted students and/or student organizations, including the University of Toronto Moroccan Association.

We are also thinking about members of our global alumni network who are living and working in Morocco and Libya, or who have family and friends there.

The University will continue to monitor both situations and provide updates as needed. Thank you for supporting one another during this difficult time.

Joseph Wong
Vice-President, International

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We continue to follow the conflict in Sudan with deep concern. I encourage students, faculty, staff and librarians in our community who are affected by this crisis to make full use of the University’s supports outlined in my previous message (below).  

I would also like to share some additional opportunities and resources:  

  • Donations: The federal government announced on June 6 that it will match donations made by individuals between May 1 and June 30 to the Humanitarian Coalition for relief efforts in East Africa, including Sudan. We encourage those in the University community who wish to make a financial contribution to consider this opportunity.  
  • Temporary immigration measures: We encourage those affected by this crisis to consult Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website to learn about temporary visa measures the Canadian government has put in place for Sudanese nationals in Canada, and family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have fled Sudan due to the conflict
  • Scholars at Risk programs: The University’s Scholars at Risk programs offer financial support to a number of scholars and students from anywhere in the world — including Sudan — who meet established criteria. These criteria include having registered at or accepted an offer of admission to the University of Toronto and being able to enter Canada.  Originally set up to support refugee students, the programs now accept applicants who do not have refugee status.  Please note, however, that these processes take time and follow normal admission cycles.   

I encourage our community to continue supporting one another and to access the range of wellness resources, including culturally sensitive and same-day care, as listed below. I also urge students, faculty, staff or librarians who are affected by this crisis and need help to find the right supports or resources to contact my office at vp.international@utoronto.ca.   

Joseph Wong 
Vice-President, International 

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Dear U of T Occupy for Palestine,

Further to our message last night, we are sending this communication to reiterate the University’s expectations on peaceful protest and to share our observations regarding actions and behaviours that we are witnessing that contravene these expectations.

Trespassing and prohibited activity

U of T is private property, meaning unauthorized activities are prohibited. Your activities falling outside of our policies and relevant law are considered unauthorized. Consequently, your group may be trespassed.

Refusal to identify a student representative

U of T would like to speak to its students directly. Yesterday, we made several attempts to establish contact and communicate with your group and were directed to a human rights observer. We have repeatedly asked for a student contact and have not yet been given one. At this point, we can no longer be certain that those participating in the protest are U of T students. We advise you to immediately identify a student liaison for our discussions.

Peaceful behaviour

From the outset, we have communicated that the University accepts people’s right to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and peaceful protest. Increasingly, we are receiving reports that suggest that the group’s behaviour is no longer peaceful due to the use of hateful, exclusionary, discriminatory, or intimidating language in chants and signs connected to your protest. We have raised concerns about specific signs with the observers with the understanding that these would be shared with you; these concerns have yet to be addressed.

Health, safety and destruction of property

The University has a duty of care toward its students, community members and all visitors who attend our grounds. We have significant concerns regarding the lack of fire safety access that occurred last night when protesters blocked passage on the paved ring around front campus, in front of University College.

We have reports of protesters dumping biowaste and other materials in the gardens and grass on front campus. These pose a serious public health risk and are also considered damage to our property. We also have reports of graffiti and a broken lamp post. The lack of your ability to enforce crowd control only increases our concerns for future damage.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email.

Sincerely,

Professor Sandy Welsh
Vice-Provost, Students