Student Day of Action

PDAD&C #35, 2006-07
MEMORANDUM

To:     Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs
From: Vivek Goel, Vice-President and Provost
Date:  February 7, 2007
Re:    Student Day of Action on February 7, 2007

On February 7, 2007, a student day of action has been planned in support of the post-secondary education system. The campaign has been organized by a large number of organizations and groups concerned about the future of public higher education in Canada. While the campaign has many goals and supports many policies, one central message is for strong public funding for high quality, accessible post-secondary education. The University of Toronto fully supports this message.

We have been asked by the Students' Administrative Council (currently undergoing a change in name to the "University of Toronto Students' Union") to ask faculty members to try to accommodate students who are unable to meet their academic obligations on February 7th as a result of their participation in the day of action. 

While some of the objectives of the groups organizing the day of action are not consistent with the approach to these issues advanced by the University, I believe it is important to support the learning achieved by students participating in these sorts of activities. The learning outcomes associated with civic engagement are important educational objectives of this University and form an integral component of the student experience.

In addition, I believe we must support our students' freedom of speech in articulating an alternate means by which higher education is offered in this province. Notwithstanding this, as noted above, the administration supports a core objective of the day of action to improve public funding for post-secondary education.

Accordingly, I would request that faculty members not penalize students for non-attendance at classes on that day and, where possible, to permit students the opportunity to complete an assignment or test at another time if the student's participation in the campaign necessitates this. The decision to grant dispensation to students must remain in the judgment of individual faculty members. Furthermore, we recognize that compelling academic considerations may well make dispensation impossible. We simply ask that faculty members be guided by the request to give broad campus support for a fundamental goal of the day of action: stronger public funding for higher education.

In asking for this consideration, the University is not endorsing the campaign or its particular demands and positions. We are simply requesting that students have the opportunity to participate if they wish.

If you have any questions or concerns about this matter, please contact Jim Delaney, Associate Director and Senior Policy Advisor in Student Affairs at 416-978-4027 or via email at jim.delaney@utoronto.ca.

I would be grateful if you would circulate this memorandum to all faculty members in your division.