Joint Statement from Vice-President and Principal, University of Toronto Scarborough and Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture Regarding Scarborough Campus Students’ Union Motions
November 26, 2021
Dear members of the U of T community,
We are deeply troubled by the directives contained within two motions passed at the November 24 Annual General Meeting of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU). These motions reference the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and discuss the active participation of Jewish students within the University of Toronto Scarborough community.
In passing these motions, SCSU has not represented the best interests of all students at U of T Scarborough and has set a dangerous precedent for future U of T Scarborough student union decisions. The Union’s actions directly undermine the efforts that U of T Scarborough and the University are collectively making to create a learning and working environment in which all students, staff, faculty, and librarians feel they are safe, welcomed, respected, and able to meet their fullest potential.
Students, staff, faculty, and librarians at the University of Toronto are entitled to their own views on all issues. Israeli-Palestinian relations are no exception. However, no member of our community—and no supplier to the University—should be compelled to share a particular viewpoint or perspective on the actions of any nation state. As the President noted, academic freedom is a core principle of the University, and all members of our community have the right to exercise it.
The U of T Scarborough campus is committed to inclusive excellence and has worked closely this year with the student group Jewish Student Life to expand kosher food offerings. This partnership continues to make progress. Additionally, staff at U of T Scarborough’s Office of Student Experience and Wellbeing (OSEW) and the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office (EDIO) continue to meet with members of Jewish Student Life to determine how to further support Jewish students and promote understanding of ongoing barriers. Across the tri-campus, we are providing opportunities for students, staff, faculty, and librarians to deepen their learning and understanding of the experiences of anti-Semitism to better support members of our Jewish community. As part of its ongoing programming, the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO) is offering restorative spaces for the Jewish community with Rabbi Ariella in addition to education sessions focused on understanding and addressing Anti-Semitism. U of T Scarborough is partnering with the non-profit organization Dimensions to offer training sessions for all student leaders this January.
We are releasing the report of the Anti-Semitism Working Group and Administrative Response early in December. U of T Scarborough, the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture, and our Equity offices across the tri-campus will work alongside divisional leaders and students in implementing the Working Group Recommendations.
Inclusive excellence cannot be realized at U of T unless and until we all accept our collective and individual responsibility to uphold these values.
From: Kelly Hannah-Moffat, VP, People Strategy, Equity & Culture; Wisdom Tettey, Vice-President & Principal of University of Toronto Scarborough
A Message from Principal Wisdom Tettey
September 2, 2021
As we head into a new school year, I want to get in touch to see how you are managing. I hope you and your loved ones are all doing well.
I also thank you most sincerely for everything you have done to support our campus and community, and to prepare us for a new academic year, despite the tremendous challenges over the course of the last 18 months. I am very proud to be part of a campus that has, in various ways, led with heart, compassion, understanding, and mutual care to sustain the integrity and the quality of our core mission.
As we sense the combination of anxiety and excitement that is in the air about a new school year, and get ready for a gradual return to a semblance of familiar campus life, I would like to share some updates with you.
As always, the safety of our community is paramount, so we have introduced measures to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone who comes to campus. To name a few of these efforts, we have introduced a vaccine requirement, improved ventilation, limited the number and size of classes held in person, and set a number of safety protocols for those who are returning to campus. Please take some time to visit our UTogether page to become familiar with all the latest information, including steps that the University has taken to prepare for a safe return to campus.
Please rest assured that we are following developments very closely and working to meet or exceed safety guidelines for those of you returning to campus next week.
The upcoming term may be challenging as the future remains uncertain in the face of increasing COVID-19 cases and a powerful new variant. I am, nevertheless, confident that your hard work and unwavering commitment to our values will see us through. Together, we will continue to pursue our vision of making U of T Scarborough an inclusive and caring place where all of us – students, faculty, staff, and partners – can enjoy a safe and rewarding year.
Please take a moment to review some of the resources available to staff, faculty (https://hrandequity.utoronto.ca/covid-19/#resources) and students (https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/home/students-utogether). If you need help, or know of a colleague, or a student who does, please remember that these services are here for you and them.
Once again, thank you for all that you do to support one another and our mission. I wish you a very successful semester. If you have any questions, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Message from Principal Wisdom Tettey in response to the discovery of 750+ people found in unmarked graves near a residential school in the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan
June 24, 2021
I am deeply saddened by the news of the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in the Cowessess First Nation. As Indigenous communities continue to grieve and process the atrocity represented by the deaths and burial of 215 young lives at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation territory, the pain, gravity, and devastation of this most recent finding are just unimaginable. The U of T Scarborough community sends its condolences to members of the Cowessess First Nation. We recognize the tremendous and lasting impact of this devastating news.
I know that these developments are taking a heavy toll on many in our Campus community who are mourning, grieving, and seeking answers. I urge all of us to support one another and to make use of the various supports available to help us during this time. They are listed below:
Students can access supports through the University’s Indigenous Student Services while U of T My Student Support Program (SSP) offers students 24-hour confidential support that can be accessed over the phone in 35 languages, while support scheduled in advance is available in 146 languages.
Staff and faculty can access the Employee and Family Assistance Program which offers confidential short–term counselling and support for issues relating to mental health, health management, and workplace well-being. To access EFAP services, please contact Homewood Health at 1-800-663-1142.
Residential school survivors or those impacted by residential schools can access support through the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. It is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.
The Office of Indigenous Initiatives is available to connect Indigenous students, staff, faculty, librarians, and community members across U of T.
Beyond U of T, the following resources are also available to members of the Indigenous community:
- Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC)
- 2 Spirited People of the 1st Nations
- Anduhyaun Inc.
- Native Child & Family Services of Toronto
- Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto
- Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre
- Dodem Kanonhsa’
- Native Canadian Centre Toronto
- Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
- Na-Me-Res (Native Men’s Residences)
- Anishinawbe Health Toronto
To offer support, you could consider donating to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS). The IRSSS is a British Columbia-based organization that strives to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth, development, and healing for residential school survivors, families, and communities. You may also consider donating to U of T’s Indigenous Student Services at First Nations House to support our students.
Message from Principal Wisdom Tettey in response to the London ON tragedy
June 8, 2021
The horrifying vehicular attack in London ON that targeted a Muslim family and left four people dead is an offence to us all. We must do everything we can to eliminate anti-Islamic hatred, and indeed hatred in all its forms.
U of T Scarborough has a significant number of members of the Muslim faith among its students, staff, faculty and librarians. Now is a time to stand together, to support each other, and to reject bigotry and racism.
On behalf of our entire U of T Scarborough community, I wish to send my deepest sympathies and heartfelt wishes to the family of the victims, in particular the young boy who was the only survivor. To my fellow members of the community, I know this is a shocking event and the impact is tremendous. Please do take advantage of the supports that are available to you. I have listed a few at the bottom of this message.
Our commitment to inclusion at U of T Scarborough must not be just words. We cannot call ourselves an inclusive campus, society or country until we all have a place, until we all feel safe in our communities, until we all share each other’s’ successes, until we all value one another and take care of one another.
In memory of the victims of the London ON tragedy, flags on campus will be flown at half-mast on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
If you have been personally impacted by this event, please do reach out to one of the following services:
Staff and faculty members can access mental health resources and supports through the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP). The 24/7 helpline at 1-800-663-1142 provides support for those experiencing grief, stress, and trauma.
- Health and Wellness Centre (UTSC)
- My SSP (support available 24/7/365). If students want to speak to a counsellor and need support, help is available 24/7 at #UofT My SSP. Please call 1-844-451-9700 or download the app at the Apple App Store or Google Play.
- Domestic and international students can reach out for support to our international offices at International Student Centre, and our Multi-Faith Centre chaplains.
- Counselling is also available through the U of T My Student Support Program (U of T My SSP) 24/7 by calling 1-844-451-9700. Muslim students, staff, and faculty can access the counselling services of our Muslim Chaplaincy.
Additional resources can be found here: https://hrandequity.utoronto.ca/news/statement-on-muslim-family-killed-in-london
A Message from Principal Tettey: Affirming Our Asian Community
Thursday, March 18, 2021