TORONTO, June 17 /CNW/ - University of Toronto students' unions and other campus and labour groups announced today that they will continue to operate during the St. George campus closure for the G20 summit, despite the University's refusal to rescind the closure. The organizations have concluded that the University's messaging around "safety" is not consistent with its plans for student residents, academic programs, and some on-campus organizations.
Among the important services that will be interrupted to accommodate the G20 security requests are access to child care, health care for international students, the student-run food and clothing bank, and discounted TTC Metropass sales. U of T Students' Unions have pledged to continue providing services and advocacy for the students the campus community at the best of their capabilities in the face of security restrictions.
"The Administration has been in constant communication with law enforcement", says Maria Galvez, University of Toronto Students' Union Vice-President University Affairs, "but did not formally communicate to any student group at any time leading up to the decision or after the announcement". Previously, in University-wide "preparedness" meetings, such as those related to the H1N1 pandemic, student representatives had been included.
The students' unions have given staff the option to remain at home if they are concerned about safety. Some staff have opted to stay at home citing concerns of police aggression and surveillance. "Many CUPE 1281 workplaces provide frontline services to students at the University of Toronto," says Tanya Speight of CUPE 1281, the union representing the staff at U of T students' unions and other student-run groups across Ontario. "We are opposed to this unilateral decision that prevents us from serving our members and doing our jobs."
In previous major convergences in Canada, such as Quebec City and Calgary, universities hosted visitors to the city and community events. There have been no reports of violence incited by protestors at these previous convergences. U of T administration has admitted that injuries at the G20 related events in Pittsburgh were the result of police violence, not protestors, and yet they continue to work in cooperation with the police.
"Some student residents are being forced out and placed closer to the security zone" says Daniel Vandervoort, External Commissioner of the U of T Graduate Students' Union. "We hope that the University is at least negotiating with police to minimise aggressive and violent tactics such as the misuse of sonic cannons".
For further information: For further information: Maria Galvez, Vice-President University Affairs, University of Toronto Students' Union: 647-404-7494; Daniel Vandervoort, External Commissioner, U of T Graduate Students' Union: 416-978-2391; Jeff Peters, U of T Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students: 416-978-3993; Tanya Speight, CUPE Local 1281: 416-978-4911 ext. 232; Patrick Vitale, Liaison Officer, CUPE Local 3902, representing education workers at U of T: 647-222-3902