First Faculty Council Discusses Admissions, Student Experience, and Rankings

Honghu Wang (1L)

The first Faculty Council meeting of this academic year took place on October 4. Admissions and Student Experience Survey results were presented, law school rankings were announced, and the sandwiches were delicious.  

Student Government

Students’ Law Society (SLS) President Katie Longo highlighted the Society’s priorities for this year, namely: (1) working towards reconciliation and supporting Indigenous students at the law school; (2) promoting good government and democratic processes; and (3) hosting accessible social events for students and creating a wider conversation about the meaning of accessibility. To those ends, she spoke of continuing the mandatory Blanket Exercises for all SLS executives and earmarked funding for the Indigenous Law Students’ Association, holding more town halls, and providing anonymous avenues for student feedback.

Graduate Law Students’ Association (GLSA) President Haim Abraham expressed gratitude for the graduate program team, the success of the graduate students’ orientation, and the space in Falconer Hall for graduate students. He said that the GLSA is looking forward to integrating the graduate students and program into the Faculty more generally.

Admissions

Professor Ben Alarie unveiled the JD Admissions Report. There were no dramatic changes year over year, though there was a slight increase in applications: for 2017–18, there were 2199 applications to the program, 354 offers made, and 207 students registered, representing an offer rate (offers / applications) of 16%, which is up by one point. The yield rate (acceptances / offers) of 58% is down by five points. 84% of students are the first in their family to attend law school and the majority of students speak more than one language.

Ms. Longo asked why socioeconomic status was not requested by the Faculty at all, noting that students from lower-income backgrounds were more likely to self-report difficulty integrating into the law school. Prof. Alarie replied that admissions is completely needs-blind, while financial aid better addresses those concerns.

Student Experience Survey

Assistant Dean Alexis Archbold presented the Student Experience Survey results. The response rate was about 40% and evenly split by year.

Respondents generally reported satisfaction with academic support, social events, and employment, while reporting mixed satisfaction with support of overall well-being. They were generally satisfied with the law school environment and student services.

Students that requested accommodations, amounting to 15% of respondents, reported mixed feelings about accommodations through Accessibility Services, though accommodations through the law school were generally viewed positively. Most students were somewhat satisfied with the Faculty providing opportunities to deepen the understanding of Indigenous Law and the history of colonialism. Finally, 75% of respondents would recommend U of T Law to someone thinking of attending law school.

Truth and Reconciliation Implementation Committee Report

Professor Douglas Sanderson provided an update on the TRC Committee. He spoke of the Committee developing best practices regarding honorariums and inviting elders, the success of the Blanket Exercise, and entering into a community relationship with the Mississaugas of New Credit.

Rankings

Dean Iacobucci opened the meeting by highlighting the new Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018, in which the University of Toronto ranked tenth among law schools.

Awards and Financial Endowment

The Council approved about $351,000 in financial endowments to support financial aid.