Despite plans to shut down the university to accommodate security concerns during the G20 summit later this month, University of Toronto student unions are vowing to keep services for students running. Among the services being interrupted are child care, health care for international students, the student-run food and clothing bank, and discounted TTC Metropass sales. The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) plans to maintain services “at the best of their capabilities in the face of security restrictions”
The students’ union has support from the Canadian Union of Public Employees that represents UTSU’s staff, although employees have been given the option to stay home. “We are opposed to this unilateral decision that prevents us from serving our members and doing our jobs,” Tanya Speight of CUPE, said. “We hope that the University is at least negotiating with police to minimise aggressive and violent tactics such as the misuse of sonic cannons,” Daniel Vandervoort, of the U of T grad students’ union added.
U of T vice-president and provost Cheryl Misak announced in late May that the St. George campus would be closing from June 24 through the 27, because the designated protest site is located at Queen’s Park.
The student unions, a number of other campus groups, and several faculty members have signed an open letter calling on the university to reverse its decision and keep the school open. “The University of Toronto, as a place of higher learning, should be encouraging dialogue . . . Instead, administrators are prohibiting access to the campus, stifling dialogue and fostering a climate of fear,” the letter reads. The letter also claims that students and staff were not consulted in the decision shut down the campus: “This decision places an unacceptable and unnecessary burden on students, instructors and researchers, forcing them to postpone their research, alter their course and exam schedules, and even abandon their homes.”