There's always a lot going on at U of T, from student politics to advocacy to U of T getting censured.
The Varsity broke down the biggest news stories at U of T that you should know about as an incoming student.
CAUT censure of U of T
In April, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) voted to censure U of T over a controversy that started last September, when U of T allegedly rescinded an offer of employment to Dr. Valentina Azarova after a donor approached the hiring committee with concerns about her writings on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Azarova had applied for the position of director of the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at U of T's Law Faculty.
The censure asks Canadian university teachers not to speak at U of T or take job postings, and has already led to a number of resignations, cancelled events, and protests. Amnesty International paused its relationship with U of T because of the censure.
The censure will continue until CAUT believes U of T has adequately addressed its concerns about donor influence and academic freedom, which would likely mean reinstating Azarova's offer of employment. U of T recently resumed the hiring process for the position of IHRP program director.
Accordingly, many student groups have also continued to advocate for the rights of Palestinians and for Palestinian students at U of T. Some of these efforts, though, have proven to be controversial, and have been called antisemitic by critics.
**Domestic vs. international student tuition **
As the provincial government has continued to decrease funding for colleges and universities, U of T has increasingly been forced to turn to other sources of income beyond provincial funding.
The university has consistently increased international student tuition, but domestic tuition has stayed the same after it was frozen for the second year in a row on April 30. International tuition is a huge source of revenue for the university, and has increased by 41.2 per cent in the last decade.
When COVID-19 hit, a number of student groups advocated for the university to freeze international tuition due to the pandemic, though the efforts were unsuccessful.
The University of Toronto Students' Union (UTSU) has been working on opening the Student Commons building on College Street for 14 years.
The union has recently announced plans to begin opening the Commons, despite construction not being entirely completed. The building will serve as U of T's student centre, providing spaces for student groups, events, student services, and more.
The building is expected to be fully operational in September 2022.
U of T wasn't immune to the wave of activism that has encompassed the rest of the world over the past year. From anti-Black racism to sexual violence to climate justice, students and faculty at U of T have been pushing for change, and their efforts are already extending into the new academic year.
In response to calls for anti-racism action, U of T has accepted all the recommendations made by the Anti-Black Racism Task Force. These recommendations include increasing Black representation on the Governing Council, increasing anti-Black racism education, and appointing more Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion leads.
Students have also been rallying against sexual violence, questioning the effectiveness of U of T's current procedures for handling reports and disclosures. Recently, sexual violence allegations made against a professor in the Faculty of Music have slowly gained attention. The Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association and the UTSU have both released letters to the faculty and to the university as a whole, and students have been hanging notes up around Philosopher's Walk expressing their own experiences with sexual violence.