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Victories

In this section, you can take a look at our proud history of being an effective, active voice for students on campus.

Flat Fees (2013)

In 2009, the University of Toronto changed how they charged fees to students in the Faculty of Arts & Science. Instead of charging per-course fees, they started charging a flat fee – meaning that students would have to pay for five courses – even if they only took three. This amounted to a 66 per cent tuition fee increase for no service improvement.

We have been opposing the flat fee structure since it was announced in 2009. Since the implementation of the program, students have found it difficult to have a part time job and do well in their studies, since they do not have the choice to reduce their course load under this tuition fee scheme. The flat fee scheme has also placed additional financial stresses onto students, worsening concerns about mental health.
We launched a strong campaign over the last few years to address this issue. In addition to petitions and protests, we garnered support from alumni, who started a letter-writing campaign to oppose flat fees, we brought the issue to a provincial level through the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, making it one of their main lobbying asks and educating students across the province to the unfair fee-collection model, some of whom did not know it was taking place at their school.
In 2013 we ramped up our campaign, collecting more than 6000 postcard petitions from students asking the government to address the issue of flat fees and delivering them to the Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
In December 2013, the provincial government announced that new legislation would limit the amount of fees that universities can charge to students. Under the new policy, 100 per cent of tuition fees can only be charged if students are taking an 80 per cent course load or higher. This will reduce tuition fees for some students over $2300 per year. The changes will roll out over two years starting in fall 2015.
For more information, check out:

Unpaid Interns’ Rights (2013)

In April 2013, we sent a letter to the Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi outlining our concerns with unpaid internships. Our letter soon went viral. Our President was asked to field media about the issue from the Huffington Post, the CBC, the National Post and dozens of other media outlets, bringing the concern of unpaid internships to the mainstream.

As a result of the letter we wrote and the widespread public pressure around the issue, the Minister announced this year that unpaid interns will now be covered under the Occupational health and Safety Act. This means that many of our members will actually be protected by Safety legislation while on their work terms.
Despite this major victory, there is still work to be done when it comes to unpaid labour. For more information, take a look at the letter we drafted and check out this press release.

International Students – No Work Permits needed! (2013)

Our national students’ union, the Canadian Federation of Students, holds the only student seat on the Advisory Committee on International Students and Immigration (ACSI). ACISI provides Citizenship and Immigration Canada with recommendations on policy pertaining to international students.

The Federation recommended that the Citizenship and Immigration Canada roll the international student work permit into the study permit. Citizenship and Immigration Canada agreed to the change, and will combine the Off-Campus Work Permit and the Study Permit, eliminating the need for students to apply separately. This change will take place in Spring 2014.
University is expensive – and even more so for international students. Prior to 2006, international students in Canada were not even allowed to work off campus, limiting them to finding work within their university community. Students united across Canada worked to address this issue, and in 2006 won international students the right to work off campus.
For more information, contact Vice-President Internal & Services Cameron Wathey at vpis@utsu.ca or Vice-President University Affairs Agnes So at vpua@utsu.ca

Open Source Software (2013)

In 2013, we received several requests from students regarding the ability to use Open Document Format (ODF) on UofT computers.

We contacted the Information Commons and recommended some potential solutions, including the use of an open source office suite like LibreOffice, which works on Mac, Windows and Linux, or alternatively something like OpenOffice.org or Calligra Suite to the UofT Information Commons. The staff at the Information Commons agreed and recommended the use of an open-source office suite like LibreOffice, which works on Mac, Windows and Linux, or alternatively something like OpenOffice.org or Calligra Suite.
We are thrilled that the staff at Information Commons have responded positively about this, and are currently in the process of implementing LibreOffice on computers that provide Microsoft Office. Development is still being tested to ensure there are no conflicts introduced with the current Microsoft Office suite.

Ancillary Fees (2013)

In 2012, we joined our fellow students’ unions in calling upon the university administration to undertake an ancillary fee review across the University. We made a submission that queried several questionable fees. The University found that some of the concerns were justified and has eliminated some ancillary fees. This is a major victory for us all!

However, there are still numerous fees that we’re concerned about that have yet to be addressed. Check out our Ancillary Fees campaign to join the campaign.
For more information on our ancillary fee concerns, check out our ancillary fee review.

Multi-Faith Space (2013)

We have a long and proud history of fighting for more multi-faith space for prayer and meditation on campus. We are so proud and excited that through our collaborative lobbying efforts between campus clubs involved in the Student Committee for Accessible Accommodation, and through the support of the Multi-Faith Centre, the University has created a new multi-faith prayer and meditation space at Robarts Library. This space is also accessible to community members who may not have a T-Card.

Location:
Robarts Library
8th Floor, Room 8045
We would like to extend our appreciation to all who were a part of ensuring the success of this project for their commitment to improving accessibility and equity on this campus in a tangible way. The Student Committee for Appropriate Accommodations includes representatives from the following clubs and unions: Buddhism and Psychology Students’ Union, Ismaili Students’ Association, Keeping It Halal, Muslim Students’ Association, Power To Change, SGI University of Toronto Buddhist Club, Thaqalayn Muslim Association, and the Varsity Christian Fellowship.

Bottled Water-Free Campus (2011)

Working together with our coalition partners at the Public Water Initiative, we successfully pressured the University of Toronto to commit to going bottled-water free, phasing out the sale of all bottled water on all three campuses by September 2014. With this decision, UofT has made an important decision for sustainability on campus and joins over a dozen other campuses across the country that have pledged to go bottled water-free. UofT has also committed to increasing access to public water by installing more water fountains and water refill stations.

For more information about bottled water, see the website.

Student Access to Athletic Space (2011)

Working together with the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, we have managed to secure exclusive timeslots for the use of athletic space for UTSU clubs, and significant discounts on equipment rentals.

The enhanced access to student space initiative includes:
Varsity and Athletic Centre Access
All recognized U of T student clubs and groups may apply to rent facilities. Once approved, these groups receive a 30% discount on all facility and equipment rentals. No additional insurance coverage is required.
Varsity Dome: exclusive timeslots
One-third of the field in the dome is reserved exclusively for recognized UofT student clubs and groups to rent on Thursdays 4:30pm to 6:30pm and Fridays 2:30pm to 4:30pm. There is no cost to rent this space provided the club’s application request is approved.
Athletic Centre field house: exclusive timeslots
Field house courts 2 and 3 are reserved exclusively for recognized UofT student clubs and groups to rent on Saturdays and Sundays from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is no cost to rent this space on Sundays from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. provided the club’s application request is approved.
Check out our press release for more information.

Student Metropass (2009)

Prior to 2009, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) did not offer any student discounts for students in college or university. We used to bulk purchase thousands of adult Metropasses each year so that we could sell them at a discounted cost to our members.

As public transportation costs continued to increase, we thought that it was necessary to push for a discount for post-secondary students. We partnered with students’ unions from across the GTA to lobby the provincial government for a post-secondary student discount.
After collecting thousands of petitions and delivering them to the TTC, our campaign was a success. The discounted Post-Secondary Student Metropass was introduced in 2009 as a result of our Fair Student Fares Campaign.
This was a great victory, but we need to continue to push more affordable transit. For too many consecutive years, Toronto City Council has proposed TTC cuts and increased TTC fares. Students in other cities as close as Mississauga have Universal Passes – a significantly reduced student bus pass that lasts all year. University of Toronto Mississauga students pay less than $100 per semester for this pass, and that cost is comparable to other college and university jurisdictions across Canada.
Let’s mobilize to protect student discounts and lobby for Community Action.

National Grants (2008)

In 2008 your students’ union, working together with students across Canada, won Canada’s first-ever national grants program. After a petition campaign and a national Day of Action, with thousands of students demonstrating in protests across the country, the Government of Canada agreed to create the program. The program created $350 million in grants, helping to alleviate student debt.

For more information, check out the press release.

Childcare at the University of Toronto Mississauga (2007)

For a long time, the University of Toronto Mississauga campus was the only campus at UofT lacking a childcare centre. As a result, in 2005, we took matters into our own hands. We opened up a child minding centre at the University of Toronto Mississauga Student Centre to provide much-needed access to childcare for our members who are parents.

As a result of our direct action and lobbying of the administration, the University of Toronto finally committed to opening a childcare centre at the Mississauga campus in 2007. The centre was opened in 2009.

Tuition Fee Freeze (2004)

After years of lobbying provincial governments to freeze tuition fee increases, students across Ontario united through the Canadian Federation of Students finally won a tuition fee freeze in 2004. This saved students in Ontario more than $100 million in additional fees. We have done it before, and together we can do it again.

Sweatshop-Free Campus (2000)

In the year 2000, we launched a massive campaign to convince the University to commit to ensuring that all UofT clothing materials were made in sweatshop-free facilities. After petitions, teach-ins and a sit-in at Simcoe Hall, the University implemented a no sweatshop policy.

Divestment from South African Apartheid (1990)

Between 1983-1990, students at the University of Toronto undertook a massive campaign to have the University of Toronto divest entirely from all companies with ties to South Africa in protest of the Apartheid regime.

A very difficult campaign spanning a number of years, students were very supportive and dedicated to this cause. After a referendum confirming students’ position, protests, several sit-ins and coordinated demands from a coalition of the students’ unions, campus clubs, faculty and alumni, the University finally agreed to divest from South Africa in 1990, at the culmination of one final sit-in of the President’s office.

Centre for Women & Trans People (1986)

We established funding for the Centre for Women & Trans People at the University of Toronto St. George campus through by a levy collected and administered by UTSU. When the administration balked at providing the group space, we organized a camp-out on front campus and pressured the University into giving in. The Centre for Women & Trans People is located at 563 Spadina Ave., Room 10.

For more information about The Centre, check out our Service Groups.

Hart House for Women (1972)

Hart House was established in 1919 by UofT alumnus Vincent Massey. In fact, the building was named in honour of his grandfather, Hart Massey.

Massey’s financial contribution was contingent on the provision that the building was to be used only by men. There was widespread opposition to the policy, and we launched a campaign in the 1950s demanding that women be permitted to use the space. During a 1957 debate at Hart House between John F. Kennedy and Stephen Lewis, where students protested outside that women were not allowed access to the event, Massey was quoted as saying “I personally rather approve of keeping women out of these places” and “it’s a pleasure to be in a country where women cannot mix in everywhere”.
After years of lobbying, picketing, protesting, staging sit-ins and meeting with University administrators, women were finally granted access to Hart house in 1972.

Undergrad Access to Robarts (1972)

After we occupied Simcoe Hall in 1972, the University administration finally conceded to our demand to allow undergraduate UofT students access to Robarts Library. Prior to 1972, Robarts was open only to graduate students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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