Intellectual Segregation and the University of Toronto


I have previously written about the University of Toronto’s commitment to academic freedom and the influence of benefactors.  According to the Memorandum of Agreement between the Peter and Melanie Munk Charitable Foundation and the University of Toronto, there will be a policy of implicit segregation at the University of Toronto.  The agreement reads, in part:

The main entrance of the Heritage Mansion will be a formal entrance reserved only for senior staff and visitors to the School and the CIC. Usual and customary traffic for any occupants of any future developments adjoining the Heritage Mansion will be through one or more entrances on Devonshire Place.

In other words, the main entrance will be reserved for dignitaries and visitors to the school, as well as “senior staff.”  Undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral students, regular faculty, sessional lecturers, administrative assistants, custodial staff, the general public, and taxpayers (who have contributed some 16 million of the 35 million dollar donation by the Munk Charitable Foundation) will all be required to use the back door to the Munk School of Global Affairs.  This is not in the spirit of intellectual progress and public engagement.

The requirement of the Memorandum of Agreement also contradicts the University of Toronto’s Statement on Prohibited Discrimination and Harassment.  Point 3 of the Statement reads: “In its Statement of Institutional Purpose the University affirms its dedication ‘to fostering an academic community in which the learning and scholarship of every member may flourish, with vigilant protection for individual human rights, and a resolute commitment to the principle of equal opportunity, equity and justice.’”  It seems therefore that the Memorandum violates the Statement of Institutional Purpose insofar as not all members of the university community are afforded the same “opportunity” to enter through the “formal entrance reserved only for senior staff and visitors to the School and the CIC.”

Likewise, the Memorandum violates the university’s Human Rights Code, which “requires that employees of the University be accorded equal treatment without discrimination.”  This “formal entrance” requires that all employees not be treated equally.  Instead, the Memorandum states: “only senior staff and visitors to the School and CIC” will be permitted to enter this “formal entrance”; the rest of the academic community will have to use “one or more entrances on Devonshire Place.”

Will the university choose to violate the Statement of Institutional Purpose, the Human Rights Code, and the Statement on Prohibited Discrimination and Harassment, or will it revisit this part of the agreement?  Whatever else the university hopes to accomplish here, it cannot allow blatant discrimination that amounts to segregation.

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