Update on Undergraduate Student Societies Summit


PDAD&C #19 2013-2014

To:  PDAD&C 
From:      Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President & Provost
Date:  September 12, 2013
Re:  Update on Undergraduate Student Societies Summit

At its meeting on June 17th, the Executive Committee of Governing Council determined that, in light of disputes between divisional student societies and student governments regarding the distribution of student fees and democratic reform, the proposed Student Commons Agreement and the Report of the Project Planning Committee for the Student Commons would be deferred for consideration by Governing Council in a future cycle. For background on those disputes, please see the attached memo.

In order to resolve those outstanding disputes, and make it possible to take the Student Commons motions forward to Governing Council, former Provost Cheryl Misak last month set up an Undergraduate Student Societies Summit. The Summit, including experts in democratic theory and practice and student group representatives, will consider the issues and facilitate both discussion between the student groups and a satisfactory outcome on which we can proceed.

The Summit participants are asked to consider the following:

• In a Policy environment in which there are currently four representative student governments (UTSU, SCSU, GSU, APUS) recognized by Governing Council and supported by mandatory fee deductions from students in the relevant constituencies, how can the sometimes distinct interests of divisional societies be supported and respected in a democratic manner?
• What are the implications of these answers on the evolution of the democratic structures of the student governments or on fee support for the activities of the divisional societies?
These questions will be explored in the context of the issues raised by recent fee diversion referenda but are not limited to the fee diversion issue alone. Although the Summit cannot effect policy changes (only the Governing Council can do that), if it concludes that further analysis should be undertaken, it may suggest issues that could be considered as part of a policy review. The Summit is intended to be a substantial, principled, and facilitated conversation.

In order to broaden the group of student leaders providing input into the discussion, UTSU and all the divisional/collegiate societies represented by UTSU will be able to send members to the Summit. We have extended the original (September 1) deadline until the end of this week and have invited each of the following groups to name up to two members to participate:

• University of Toronto Students' Union (UTSU)
• UTM Students' Union (UTMSU)
• Arts & Science Student Union (ASSU)
• Dental Students' Society
• Engineering Society (EngSoc)
• Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association
• Innis College Student Society
• Medical Society
• New College Student Council
• Nursing Undergraduate Society
• Physical Health & Education Undergraduate Association
• St. Michael's College Students Union
• Student Teachers' Union
• Students' Law Society
• Transitional Year Program Student Association
• Trinity College Meeting
• Undergraduate Pharmacy Society
• University College Literary & Athletic Society (UCLit)
• Victoria University Students' Administrative Council (VUSAC)
• Woodsworth College Students' Association
Other student groups¬ including the Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU), the Graduate Students' Union (GSU), and the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students (APUS), student clubs, and other members of the University community are invited to make written submissions, and the Summit members might invite in-person submissions as well. Please send written submissions to David Newman, Director, Student Life (dl.newman@utoronto.ca) by October 1, 2013.

The faculty Summit members will be:
• Professor Donald Ainslie (Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts & Science, and Principal, University College)
• Professor Joe Desloges (Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Faculty of Arts & Science, and Principal, Woodsworth College)
• Professor Graham White (Department of Political Science, University of Toronto Mississauga)
• Professor Linda White (Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts & Science)

Professor Jill Matus, Vice-Provost, Students & First Entry Divisions, Professor Mark McGowan, Special Advisor to the Vice-Provost Students, and Mr. David Newman, Director, Student Life, will provide support from the Administration. Professor Desloges will act as Chair of the Summit meetings.

We will begin next week to schedule the first meeting of what is likely to be a multi-meeting process. The Summit may call on Professor Brian Langille, from the Faculty of Law, to facilitate the discussions and/or the outcome. The Summit will meet as necessary through the Fall 2013 term. It will give updates and report its conclusions to both Governing Council and the Provost.