Category Archives: Student Handbook 2017

Who runs this place, anyway?

The University of Toronto is far bigger than even the most overcrowded Con Hall class would make you believe. Canada’s largest university is a complicated place — and we’re not just talking about navigating the interior of University College or trying to understand the complexities of your student insurance coverage.

A behemoth of an institution with roots that date back to 1827, U of T has grown leaps and bounds from its colonial roots around Queen’s Park to include campuses in Mississauga and Scarborough.

All of this suggests some sort of master plan, organization, or structure to the governance of the 70,000-something undergraduates just like you.

Here, we map that out.


Sitting at the top of the heap is President Meric Gertler, a geographer-turned-academic administrator whose term as head of the university was recently renewed until 2023. Gertler, in conjunction with the Governing Council, is ultimately responsible for the university’s vision, mission, and purpose.

Gertler supervises a bunch of academics-turned-administrators, including Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President of University Operations Scott Mabury, and Vice-President of Human Resources and Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat. Below them are various other university administrators.


Governing Council is made up of the President, Chancellor, and two members each from among the officers of the university, University College, the constituent colleges, the federated universities, and the federated and affiliated colleges. Additional council members include 12 teaching staff, eight students, two administrative staff, eight alumni, and 16 people who can’t be students, staff, or faculty.

Below Governing Council are a number of committees, councils, and boards. Directly below is the Executive Committee, which vets decisions before they face the larger council.

Below the Executive Committee are the UTM and UTSC Campus Councils, the Academic Board, University Affairs Board, and Business Board. They rule on decisions pertinent to their respective areas, and their decisions are ratified by Governing Council.

And then there are the constituent colleges and faculties. New, Innis, and Woodsworth are the constituent colleges and, in most cases, University College is also treated as one. Colleges, like faculties — such as Applied Science & Engineering, Music, and Arts & Science — are owned by the university but exist as semi-autonomous entities. With a few exceptions, they run decisions by the aforementioned boards.

The university agrees to collect levies — fees that are built into your tuition — on behalf of a number of student groups across the various campuses; these groups represent student opinions on various issues, provide optional services like health and dental coverage, can lobby faculties for policies that reflect students’ interests and suggestions, and assist students in navigating the petition process.


At UTSG, the largest student society is the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). There are also councils for almost every faculty, the largest being the Arts and Science Students’ Union, beneath which there are a lot of other course unions. Student councils at the constituent colleges, like the University College Literary and Athletic Society and the New College Student Council, are also in this group.  At UTM and UTSC, student unions consist of the UTM Student Union (UTMSU) and Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU).

There are also the federated colleges, which include Victoria, Trinity, and St. Michael’s. They are completely separate from the university’s governance structure and have their own presidents and governing bodies, but they agree to grant degrees on behalf of U of T and provide students with certain basic services, such as student life and registrarial aid. Every student in the Faculty of Arts & Science belongs to one of the federated colleges, constituent colleges, or UC.

The federated colleges agree to fund certain student groups, including the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council, the St. Michael’s College Student Union, and the Trinity College Meeting.

Five study spots at UTSC

UTSC has an innovative population of students capable of magically transforming any space into a study space. Being on a large campus makes this a necessity, especially during exam season. As incoming students, knowing all the great campus study spots can help you elevate your concentration levels and help you achieve that perfect 4.0 GPA.

UTSC Library

There’s no better place to study than the library. You will find two silent areas, quiet areas, and group study rooms. For those of you who need complete silence while studying, the silent study areas are where you will find diligent students vigorously typing away on their laptops. In addition, you may get lucky and find some of the hidden study spots around the library as well. Group study rooms can be found behind the computer area and can be booked online using the library website.

Environmental Science & Chemistry Building Study Rooms

A lesser-known study spot is the series of second-floor study rooms in the ESCB building. As ESCB is one of the newer buildings on campus, its study areas have gone largely undiscovered. These rooms are mainly used for silent study, and they’re a great place to escape from the bustling library. Another perk is the natural light that streams in from the rooms’ huge windows.

Science Wing  Study Carrels

The SW Study Carrels provide a nice environment to concentrate because they allow each person to have their own isolated space. This area provides just the right amount of background noise for those who don’t like to study in complete silence.

Bladen Wing Group Study Area

For those who cannot handle the desolate silence of the library or the ambient noises of the SW, the BW is the ideal spot. Its fourth floor is a perfect group study area and hangout spot. Depending on the time of day, this space can be quite noisy. On the bright side, the BW also has computer labs that can be used when the library computers are taken.

Humanities Wing Study Carrels

The HW Study Carrels are the perfect place to study with a group of friends or by yourself. This is ideal if you are the type of person that enjoys a bit of background noise but still appreciates privacy while studying. The biggest benefit of studying in the HW is that you are close to a few of the campus’ main food areas, the marketplace being the closest.

The student’s guide to Scarborough

Visit the Scarborough Bluffs


Open year-round, the Scarborough Bluffs are an escarpment of parks definitely worth seeing. The Bluffs stand right beside Lake Ontario, offering excellent views and some fun outside activities. There are 11 different parks spanning the bluffs, many with hiking trails, picnic areas, and lookouts. A few of the parks also offer a lakeshore trail, and Bluffer’s Park includes a sandy beach intended for swimming. 

Distance from UTSC: 20 minutes by car

Cost: Free

See a play by Theatre Scarborough

Theatre Scarborough is made up of three distinct theatre companies, all operating from one location. Scarborough Theatre Guild, Scarborough Music Theatre, and Scarborough Players are offering shows this season from September to July.

Distance from UTSC: 15 minutes by car

Cost: $19–$25 for regular student tickets,

$10 for student rush tickets 

Hang out at the Scarborough Town Centre


With over 250 different stores and a Cineplex movie theatre, the Scarborough Town Centre is one of the province’s largest malls. Inside the mall is the Scarborough Walk of Fame, where notable Scarborough residents of past and present have commemorative stars on the ground. The mall is also right across from the Scarborough Centre subway stop and bus terminal, making your travelling all the less woeful.

Distance from UTSC: 10 minutes by car

Cost: Free — unless you shop

Eat out at multicultural restaurants

Scarborough is renowned for its multiculturalism, making for a variety of great restaurants to enjoy. Some local favourites are Federick Restaurant at 1920 Ellesmere Road, The Roti Hut at 351 Pitfield Road, and Fratelli Village Pizzeria at 384 Old Kingston Road.

Distance from UTSC: Varied

Cost: Usually $10–$30 per person

Take a trip to the Toronto Zoo


There’s no better way to get rid of the stress of finals than a trip to see some fluffy pandas. The Toronto Zoo is open all year and is home to over 5,000 animals from around the world.

Distance from UTSC: 10 minutes by car

Cost: $29 in the summer, $23 in the winter

Dare to explore the haunted Old Finch Bridge

Legend has it a young girl was murdered on her birthday on the Old Finch Bridge. Passersby have previously reported hearing screams coming from the nearby cemetery. Then again, these noises could be explained by the nearby peacock pens of the Toronto Zoo.

Distance from UTSC: 10 minutes by car

Cost: Your livelihood

Non-library study spots at UTM

This year marks the 50th anniversary of UTM’s opening. What began as a single-building campus called Erindale College is now the second-largest campus at U of T. Its rapid growth from 155 students in 1967 to 13,500 undergraduates in 2017 strained a number of aspects of student life, including the ability to find available study spaces on campus.

Luckily, with three new buildings opening in the last six years with study spaces integrated in their design, it’s become easier to find a place to sit down and hit the books. Thankfully, there are finally more options than just the library.

Deerfield Hall


Opened in 2014, Deerfield Hall boasts conference rooms that hold 8–24 people, as well as lecture halls and classrooms available to book for those times when you want to study with 100 of your closest classmates. The main level has a mix of individual and communal study spaces, and the Northside Bistro is only a few steps away. 

Instructional Centre



The Instructional Centre has collaborative and private study spaces, as well as a computer lab and 500-seat auditorium. There’s a small computer lab area on the second level and casual seating on the main level, if you don’t mind working in noisier environments. The building has a geothermal heating and cooling system, a green roof, a rainwater system, and is run on solar power energy. Its relaxed atmosphere should provide you with the peace of mind to get through your paper.

Innovation Complex


Home to multiple offices, departments, and units, including the Office of the Registrar, the Innovation Complex opened in 2014 and was partially funded by a $10 million investment over 10 years by the City of Mississauga. The main rotunda is always bustling with students, but it’s a great place to meet with others for collaborative work in one of the more unique spaces on campus. Study breaks can include stepping into the Blackwood Gallery across the hall to engage with contemporary art, or grabbing a drink and snack at Second Cup.

The student’s guide to Mississauga

Chill at Studio.89

Studio.89 is a community hub and fair trade café that offers a wide range of fun and
empowering activities. They host several events each week, including yoga, paint
nights, and networking workshops. It’s a cozy café with board games, books, and yummy organic treats.

Cost: Under $10 for savoury treats, under $5 for sweet treats

Distance from UTM: 15 minutes by car

Visit Port Credit

With a beautiful waterfront, amazing restaurants, live music, and vibrant nightlife,
Port Credit is a neighbourhood worthy of your time. It’s the home of several festivals, a farmers’ market, and outdoor movie screenings. Stroll through this neighbourhood, visit the boutique stores, watch the sunset while the boats cruise down the lake, and make sure to check out the harbour lighthouse — it’s a sight you don’t want to miss.

Cost: Free

Distance from UTM: 15 minutes by car

Spend a day at Scooter’s Roller Palace


Go old-school and visit this retro roller skating rink. Scooter’s is the best place to let loose and forget about your classes. Jam to the DJ’s music, enjoy some snacks, and get your cardio on.

Cost: Around $15, including skate rental

Distance from UTM: 10 minutes by car

Relax at Kariya Park

This hidden city oasis offers a Japanese-style garden and cherry blossom trees. Kariya Park is located right next to the hub of downtown Mississauga, a short distance from a variety of transit routes. Whether you’re having a picnic by the pond or taking a walk through the flowerbeds, this lovely park is an ideal spot to unwind from your studies — it’s also the perfect place to take your next profile picture!

Cost: Free

Distance from UTM: 15 minutes by car

Hang out at Celebration Square


Celebration Square is a Mississauga classic. Located in the heart of the city, this public facility is a great spot to hang out any time of year. The square hosts year-round events like ice skating and movie nights, and it hosts a fabulous New Year’s Eve party as well. If you need to study, Mississauga’s Central Library is the perfect place to work right next door.

Cost: Free

Distance from UTM: 10 minutes by car

Spend a night out at &Company Resto Bar


Located in the heart of Mississauga, this stylish nightclub and restaurant has a vibrant rooftop patio and a great dance floor. The bar also offers free dance lessons every Wednesday for ‘Latin Night.’ Just like downtown Toronto nightlife, &Company Resto Bar is the place to be on a Saturday night in the suburbs.

Cost: Varied

Distance from UTM: 15 minutes by car

The student’s guide to Toronto

Visit the AGO


The Art Gallery of Ontario — also known as the AGO — is one of North America’s largest art galleries, housing more than 90,000 works. The AGO puts on a variety of events, including movie screenings, musical performances, and curator discussions.

Distance from UTSG: 15 minutes by foot

Cost: Free on Wednesday nights from 6–9pm, $11 for students other days

Stroll through Baldwin Village

Are you hungry, but don’t want to eat campus food? Baldwin Village is a food haven for students. For those craving ramen, the area boasts authentic Japanese restaurants such as Kinton Ramen; for sushi enthusiasts, there is Konnichiwa for sushi enthusiasts. Other options include the new Taiwanese restaurant Charidise and Asian-fusion restaurant Mo’Ramyun. Finally, students have a variety of desserts to choose from in the village, such as Arctic Bites for ice cream rolls, Light Café for coffee and waffles, and Kekou Gelato House for gelato.

Distance from UTSG: 10 minutes by foot

Cost: $5–$30

Shop at the Eaton Centre

As the mother of all malls, the Eaton Centre boasts over 250 stores covering any and every need you may have.  From fashion to technology to food, the Eaton Centre is a fun, touristy getaway from campus. Food options include eight dine-in restaurants, as well as a large food court offering vegetarian, vegan, and halal options. Don’t feel like shopping? Check out the annual unveiling of the Christmas tree in the atrium at the mall; the event draws large crowds every year due to the tree’s beauty and massive size.

Distance from UTSG: 15 minutes by subway Cost: Free — unless you shop

Check out Graffiti Alley


Toronto’s Graffiti Alley is the perfect place to take your next profile picture. With the graffiti always changing, this spot is one of the best free places to explore in the city.

Distance from UTSG: 20 minutes by streetcar Cost: Free

Visit Nathan Phillips Square

Located just steps away from the Eaton Centre, Nathan Phillips Square features the rightfully famous ‘Toronto’ sign, which now has a Canadian maple leaf added on in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Torontonians and tourists alike gather in this area to enjoy the scenery and the hustle and bustle at City Hall. During the winter months, the pond doubles as a skating rink, making Nathan Phillips the perfect go-to spot regardless of the season. Food options include burgers and food trucks to suit everyone’s tastes.

Distance from UTSG: 20 minutes by subwayCost: Free

See the ROM


So close that it’s almost on campus, the Royal Ontario Museum is a staple for UTSG students. As Canada’s largest museum, it has 40 different galleries and exhibition spaces featuring over six million objects. If you have money to spare, be sure to check out their Friday Night Live events, which feature DJs and great food.

Distance from UTSG: One minute by foot

Cost: Free for students on Tuesdays,

$15.50 for students other days

Don’t just spectate — participate

Student politics at the University of Toronto can be as exciting as House of Cards. Recently, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) found itself in a lawsuit with former Board of Directors members, a standoff between union leadership and the Black Liberation Collective erupted, and Board of Directors meetings faced increased disruption from protesters. Three important UTSU stories to follow in 2017–2018 include the union’s efforts to make internal financial cuts, the prospect of decertification from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), and the advocacy that will precede the outcome of the provincial election next spring.

The UTSU has an important role to play in making sure your interests are represented in all of these areas, and with major changes to its governance and services on the horizon, it is time for its membership — incoming students included — to forego their position on the sidelines and get involved in the fray. 

Spearheaded by campaign promises geared toward financial cutbacks proposed by Demand Better, the slate that won five out of seven executive positions in last spring’s election, the UTSU has already begun to implement sweeping reforms to its internal governance. In June, the UTSU took the regressive action of laying off their Health and Dental Plan Coordinator and Clubs and Service Groups Coordinator. Though this decision was allegedly made with the purpose of ensuring financial stability, students who rely on the Health and Dental Plan and campus clubs will no longer have designated point persons to provide them with support. It would serve us well to scrutinize any future moves toward financial austerity in light of this decision’s potential negative repercussions.   

Another issue on the UTSU’s radar is the prospect of holding a referendum to decide whether the union should defederate from the CFS, an organization comprised of student organizations  from across the country. The You Decide campaign, which operated in 2016–2017, petitioned for a referendum, arguing that students should decide whether the UTSU should continue to contribute funds to the controversial federation. At the same time, those opposed to the campaign have noted that the CFS’ vigorous activism for equity and free tuition are important reasons to stay with the federation. Depending on how the UTSU navigates this situation, students could be faced with an important decision to make this coming fall.

Perhaps the most important and least recognized issue the UTSU faces is the role it will play when the provincial election takes place next spring. All three major provincial parties have proposed serious changes to postsecondary funding. With U of T students comprising the largest student body in the country and the campus being located only minutes away from Queen’s Park, both the UTSU Board of Directors and its constituents have a real opportunity to direct the discussion.

Regardless of your stance on any of these issues, it is crucial to not sit idly by and watch policy unfold. While the UTSU has and will continue to claim it was given a clear mandate from students to make these changes, less than 12 per cent of the union’s members actually voted in the spring election. Overall, Demand Better presidential candidate Mathias Memmel received the second highest number of votes for the presidency, but he won the election due to redistribution of ranked votes through the single transferrable vote system. It is therefore crucial that students who did not rank Memmel first get involved and ensure their priorities are represented.

To his credit, Memmel seems interested in welcoming voices from outside of the UTSU’s elected bodies to participate in major policy discussions, and students should seize these opportunities when they arise. Whether it is through exercising their voting rights, getting involved in campus grassroots organizations, or even protesting UTSU decisions, it is time that all students become active political participants.

James Chapman is an incoming third-year student at Innis College studying Political Science and Urban Studies.

Letter from the Editor

I never planned on coming to U of T. Originally, I wanted to go somewhere outside of the GTA. All it took was a tour of the St. George campus and I was hooked. From then on out, I spent my weekdays downtown, my weekends studying at UTM, and every once in a while I’d travel to UTSC.

U of T is a big place. Our systems and structures can often be confusing at best. I’m sure you’ll dabble in a few different academic streams, social groups, and extracurricular activities before you find your home-away-from-home. I recommend trying out as much as you can in your first year — don’t be intimidated by how big this school is.

If there‘s one takeaway from this handbook, it would be to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you. In my first year, I had no idea how many opportunities there were and how many people were available to help students succeed. This is the precise time to experiment, explore, and figure stuff out. Whether you’re a commuter student venturing to campus each day (page 20), considering intramural innertube water polo (page 18), or registering with Accessibility Services (page 21), I hope this handbook is a helpful tool in your transition. Oh, and finish the first year bucket list (page 22) — you won’t regret it.

Take photos! Drink coffee! Settle in! The next few years will be great.