York University

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York University
Motto Tentanda via (Latin)
Motto in English
The way must be tried
Established 1959
Type Public university
Endowment $439 million (CAD)[1]
Chancellor Gregory Sorbara
President Mamdouh Shoukri
Administrative staff
Students 52,800
Undergraduates 46,900[2]
Postgraduates 5,900
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Campus Urban / suburban,
185 ha (457.14 acres)
Nickname York Lions
Mascot Lion
Affiliations AUCC, CARL, IAU, COU, CIS, OUA, CUSID, Fields Institute, Ontario Network of Women in engineering, CBIE, CFS, CUP.
Website yorku.ca

York University (French: Université York) is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is Canada's third-largest university.[3]

York University has approximately 55,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and 275,000 alumni worldwide.[4] It has eleven faculties, namely the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Faculty of Science, Lassonde School of Engineering, Schulich School of Business, Osgoode Hall Law School, Glendon College, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Health, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Graduate Studies, the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (formerly the Faculty of Fine Arts), and 28 research centres.

York University participates in the Canadian Space Program and is home to Canada's only Space engineering program.[2] The Faculty of Science and Lassonde School of Engineering are Canada's primary research facility into Martian exploration, and have designed several space research instruments and applications currently used by NASA.[5][6] York has pioneered several PhD programs in Canada, including women's studies.[7] The School of Social Work is recognized as having one of the most socially responsive programs in the country.[8] York's psychology program is the largest in North America.[2] York University's business school and law school have continuously and consistently been ranked among the top schools in Canada and the world.[9][10]


York University Faculty Members, 1961

York University was established in 1959 as a non-denominational institution by the York University Act,[11] which received Royal Assent in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on 26 March of that year.[12] Its first class was held in September 1960[13] in Falconer Hall on the University of Toronto campus with a total of 76 students.

The policy of university education initiated in the 1960s responded to population pressure and the belief that higher education was a key to social justice and economic productivity for individuals and for society.[12] The governance was modelled on the provincial University of Toronto Act of 1906, which established a bicameral system of university government consisting of a senate (faculty), responsible for academic policy, and a board of governors (citizens) exercising exclusive control over financial policy and having formal authority in all other matters. The president, appointed by the board, was to provide a link between the two bodies and to perform institutional leadership.[12]

In the fall of 1961, York moved to its first campus, Glendon College, and began to emphasize liberal arts and part-time adult education.[12] It became independent in 1965, after an initial period of affiliation with the University of Toronto (U of T), under the York University Act, 1965.[14] Its main campus on the northern outskirts of Toronto opened in 1965.[13]

Murray Ross, who continues to be honoured today at the University in several ways – including the Murray G. Ross Award, was still vice-president of U of T when he was approached to become York University's new president.[15] At the time, York University was envisaged as a feeder campus to U of T, until Ross's powerful vision led it to become a completely separate institution.[16]

In 1965, the university opened a second campus, the Keele Campus, in North York, located in the Jane and Finch community. The Glendon campus became a bilingual liberal arts college led by Escott Reid, who envisaged it as a national institution to educate Canada's future leaders, a vision shared by Prime Minister Lester Pearson, who formally opened Glendon College in 1966.[17][18]

The first Canadian undergraduate program in dance opened at York University in 1970.[15] In 1972, Canada Post featured the nascent institution on 8¢ stamps, entitled York University Campus, North York, Ont.[19] The first Canadian PhD. program in Women's Studies opened with five candidates in January 1992.[15]

Its bilingual mandate and focus on the liberal arts continue to shape Glendon's special status within York University.[20] The new Keele Campus was regarded as somewhat isolated, in a generally industrialized part of the city. Petrol storage facilities are still located across the street. Some of the early architecture was unpopular with many, not only for the brutalist designs, but the vast expanses between buildings, which was not viewed as suitable for the climate. In the last two decades, the campus has been intensified with new buildings, including a dedicated student centre and new fine arts, computer science and business administration buildings, a small shopping mall, and a hockey arena. The Aviva Centre tennis stadium, built in 2004, is a perennial host of the Canada Masters tennis tournament. As Toronto has spread further out, York has found itself in a relatively central location within the built-up Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and in particular, near the Jane and Finch neighbourhood. Its master plan envisages a denser on-campus environment commensurate with that location. Students occupied the university's administration offices in March 1997, protesting escalating tuition hikes.[15]

On November 6, 2008, the York University Senate suspended classes because of a strike by CUPE Local 3903. The local represents contract professors, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants. Classes resumed on Monday, February 2, 2009 after back-to-work legislation was passed by the Ontario Legislative Assembly[21] (see: 2008-09 York University Strike)



Reflecting pool in the Harry W. Arthurs Common

York has educated some of the current and past directors and CEOs of Canada's major banks (Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal), the largest and most prominent media networks in Canada (CTV Television Network, Rogers Communications, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), and numerous judges, diplomats, and senior politicians including a former Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal of Canada, the Minister of Finance of Canada and the former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. Astronaut Steve MacLean was educated at York University in the physics department and later taught there before going to work at Stanford University.

York's approximately 2,450 full-time faculty and academic librarians are represented by the York University Faculty Association.[22] Contract faculty, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants are represented by CUPE Local 3903.[23]


For the 2012-2013 academic year, York received 40,943 undergraduate applications; approximately 11,000 students accepted admission offers and were enrolled maintaining a high school entrance average of 81.7%.[24] Admission to the Schulich BBA programs requires an average above 90% (A+). For graduate admissions, the average GMAT score for candidates admitted to the Schulich School of Business is 663.[25] York University has over 120 undergraduate programs with 17 degree types (BA, iBA, BSc, iBSc, BBA, iBBA, BEng, BES, BDes, BPA, BFA, BAS, BEd, BDEM, BHRM, BScN, BSW) and offers over 170 degree options. They admit to 30 international degrees offering international language study and opportunities to study abroad at more than 100 international universities. In 2012, 8,238 Graduate applications were received and 53,198 Undergraduate applications. Its international students represent over 150 countries around the world. York University is one of the few universities to offer a GAP year for students who wish to travel abroad, study religious development or work and still keep their offer. York also allows students who are having immigration or financial difficulties to defer their offer for up to one year.


University rankings
Global rankings
ARWU World[26] 401-500
ARWU Social Sciences[27] 101-150
QS World[28] 421-430
Times World[29] 226-250
Times Arts/Humanities[30] 97
Times Social Sciences[31] 95
Canadian rankings
ARWU National[32] 19-21
Maclean's Comprehensive[33] 7
Times National[29] 9-15

The 2014-2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings placed York 226-250th in the world, placing 9-15th in Canada.[29] The 2014 QS World University Rankings ranked the university 421-430th in the world.[34] According to the 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) rankings, the university ranked 401-500th in the world.[26]

In terms of national rankings, Maclean's ranked York 7th in their 2016 comprehensive university rankings.[35] The Higher Education Strategy Associates ranked York 8th nationally in Social Sciences and Humanities.[36]

Several of York's programs had also gained notable recognition both nationally and internationally. In the QS World University Rankings 2013 ranking of history departments, York was place thirty-third in the world, and third in Canada.[37] In the Corporate Knights 2011 ranking of teacher-education programs in Canada, York had placed fifth.[38] Osgoode Hall Law School (a Toronto's law school affiliated with the University in 1968 at the new Osgoode Hall building on the Keele Campus) ranked second in Canada, in Maclean's 2012 ranking of Canadian common law schools.[39] In the Corporate Knights ranking of law programs in Canada, Osgoode Hall had also placed second.[40] In the QS ranking of law programs, York had placed 42nd in the world, and fifth in Canada.[41]

The Schulich School of Business had also gained national and international accolades. In the Corporate Knights 2011 rankings of MBA programs in Canada, the school had placed first.[40] In the same year, the Corporate Knights had also ranked the school third in Canada for undergraduate business programs. In Beyond Grey Pinstripes 2011 rankings of MBA programs, York had placed second in the world, and first in Canada.[42] In Bloomberg Businessweek's 2010 rankings of the best business schools outside the United States, Schulich had ranked seventh, the second highest of any Canadian business school.[43] In Forbes 2010 rankings of the best two-year MBA program outside the United States, Schulich had ranked 10th in the world, the highest out of any Canadian business school.[44] In CNN Expansion's ranking of MBA programs, the school had ranked 18th in the world, placing first in Canada.[45] In the Financial Times 2011 ranking of MBA programs, Schulich had ranked 49th in the world, and third in Canada.[46] In The Economist's 2011 full-time MBA rankings, Schulich had ranked ninth in the world, and first in Canada.[47]


File:Vari Hall.jpg
View of Vari Hall from Harry W. Arthurs Common

York University has eleven faculties, including the Faculties of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (which was formed in July 2009 by the merger of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies and the Faculty of Arts), Science, Health, the Lassonde School of Engineering, Education, the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (formerly the Faculty of Fine Arts), Environmental Studies, the Schulich School of Business, Glendon College, and Graduate Studies. Some faculties' programs overlap: for instance, more than one house separate mathematics departments, although some of these are being merged; the Schulich School of Business offers undergraduate and graduate International Business Administration programmes and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies offers a Bachelor of Administrative Studies with streams in Accounting, Business Research, Finance, Human Resources Management, Management, Management Science, and Marketing, as well as a minor in Business, to be taken in conjunction with a major in another discipline. The Schulich School of Business offers undergraduates with the option of pursuing a BBA or iBBA program with a component of mandatory exchange. Also, the Glendon and Schulich units are offering or are in the processes of preparing to offer degrees in public policy and administration. The University administration has, however, taken steps in some cases to unify departments in separate faculties, in part to support York's efforts to brand itself as a university focused on interdisciplinarity. For example, the Faculty of Health, opened on 1 July 2006, houses the School of Health Policy and Management, School of Kinesiology and Health Science, School of Nursing, and the Department of Psychology.

York University offers the first and largest graphic design program in Ontario York/Sheridan Design (YSDN).[48] It is a four-year University degree delivered jointly by the two leading educational institutions of design in Canada (York University and Sheridan College), and is recognized throughout North America for maintaining the highest academic and professional standards.

The Osgoode Hall Law School moved from a downtown location to the York campus in 1969, following the requirement that every law school affiliate with a university. The law school has offered several flexible degrees available, including the Osgoode-NYU JD/LLB degree in conjunction with New York University School of Law. Osgoode Hall Law School of York University has been ranked the top law school in Canada in Canadian Lawyer magazine’s 2008 Law School Survey.

York University's Faculty of Graduate Studies offers graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines, and there are several joint graduate programmes with the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. It is the second largest graduate school in the Province of Ontario.

The Ph.D. students in the Social and Political Thought [49] program have won the award for best PhD thesis in Canada. The School of Women's Studies at York University[50] offers a large array of courses in the field, some of which are offered in French. The Canadian Centre for Germanic and European Studies[51] is co-housed at York University and Université de Montréal. The Centre is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service.

Research centres and institutes

York researchers at the York University Research Leaders 2014 event.
  • Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Centre for Research on Biomolecular Interactions
  • Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science
  • Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry
  • Centre for Vision Research (CVR)
  • York Institute for Social Research
  • York Institute for Health Research
  • Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies
  • Canadian Centre for German and European Studies
  • Centre for Feminist Research
  • Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies
  • York Centre for Asian Research[52]
  • York Centre for International and Security Studies
  • York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI)
  • Centre for Public Policy and Law
  • Centre for Refugee Studies
  • Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability
  • Institute for Research on Learning Technologies[53]
  • The Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security
  • LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research
  • The City Institute at York University (CITY)
  • Global Labour Research Centre
  • The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples
  • York Centre for Education and Community
  • Institute for Science and Technology Studies
  • Muscle Health Research Centre
  • Sensorium: The Centre for Digital Arts and Technology
  • Centre for Research on Language Contact
  • York Centre for Field Robotics
York University was involved with NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite

The Art Gallery of York University houses the permanent art collections.[54] The collection of 1500 objects includes Canadian, American, Inuit, and European mixed media, multimedia, installations, painting, photography, prints, drawings, sculpture, sketchbooks, film and video.[55]

The School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD, formerly the Faculty of Fine Arts),[56] offers programmes such as design, ethnomusicology, cultural studies, visual arts, music, dance, and theatre. York's Jazz Department was once overseen by Oscar Peterson. York also has a joint Bachelor of Design program with Sheridan College. York's Departments of Film, Theatre and Creative Writing (which is not affiliated with the Faculty of Fine Arts) offers programmes in film production/directing, acting, and writing respectively, producing many award-winning graduates. The founders of Toronto's Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival and CineACTION film theory magazine were graduates of York's Faculty of Fine Arts.

York's Dance department was founded by National Ballet of Canada's first choreographer Grant Strate.

York offers a Space and Communication Sciences undergraduate degree. York’s Centre for Vision Research has developed a ‘virtual reality room’ called IVY (Immersive Virtual Environment at York) in order to study spatial orientation and perception of gravity and motion. The Canadian Space Agency and National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) use this room to strengthen astronauts’ sense of ‘up’ and ‘down’ in zero-gravity environments. The room is a six-sided immersive environment made of the glass used in the CN Tower’s observation deck and includes walls, ceiling, and a floor made of computer-generated pixel maps. York's Faculty of Science and Engineering most recently took part in the 2007 NASA Phoenix Mars Mission.

York is also the only university in Canada with specialized programs in meteorological sciences at both the undergraduate and graduate level.



The Keele campus is host to a satellite facility of Seneca College,[60] and York University offers a number of joint programs with Seneca College:

  • School of Communication Arts
  • Computer Studies
  • Biological Science and Applied Chemistry
  • Corporate and Technical Communications
  • Nursing


There are five libraries at York University. Four of these libraries constitute the York University Libraries system: the Scott Library, Steacie Science and Engineering Library, Peter F. Bronfman Business Library, and the Leslie Frost Library (on Glendon Campus). The fifth library, the Osgoode Hall Law Library, reports to the Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School and is the largest law library in the Commonwealth. The Scott Library also contains within it the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, the Map Library and the Sound and Moving Images Library. Although the Archives of Ontario moved to York's Keele campus in April 2009, it is not affiliated with York University Libraries.


Keele Campus

An outdoor art exhibit outside of Scott Library, Keele Campus

York's primary campus ("The Keele Campus") is located in the north of the City of Toronto and bordering York Region. It is the largest post-secondary campus in Canada at 457 acres.[61] Most of the University's faculties reside here, including Liberal Arts, Fine Arts, Business, Law, Environmental Studies, Science and Engineering, Education, and Health. All together, nearly 50,000 students attend classes on the Keele campus.

York has over 200,000 living alumni. Although a large number of alumni live in Ontario, a significant number live in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, New York, and Washington, D.C. York also has over 25,000 alumni overseas.

Glendon Campus

Glendon College is a bilingual liberal arts faculty and separate campus of York University located in the Toronto neighbourhood of Lawrence Park. Glendon is unique amongst York faculties as it possesses autonomy over both its recruitment and admission. The College hosts its own academic programs and facilities. Student services on Campus are provided in both French and English and all Glendon students are required to take courses in both French and English to graduate. Glendon is the only university-level institution in central Southern Ontario that offers university courses in both French and English. Further, it is the only University Campus in Ontario that requires students to take courses in both official languages of Canada. The Campus is made accessible through TTC Routes 124-Sunnybrook and 11-Bayview and a frequent shuttle bus that runs between Glendon and York's Keele Campus. Glendon students are free to take courses and access Libraries and institutional services offered at the Keele campus (and vice versa).

Markham Campus

In June 2014, the university announced that a new campus will be constructed in Markham, Ontario.[62] The campus will be built near Highway 407, between Kennedy Road and Warden Avenue in partnership with Seneca College.[63] The new campus will house approximately 4000 students with the potential to expand to meet future demand. On May 20, 2015, the provincial government announced it will provide financial contribution to this new project.[64]

Satellite campuses

Innovation York in Markham

While most of the Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall Law School programs are offered at the Keele Campus, both of them maintain satellite facilities in downtown Toronto. Schulich operates the Miles S. Nadal Management Centre, while Osgoode Hall has a Professional Development Centre located at 1 Dundas Street West.

Student life

York University has over 54,000 students: about 48,000 undergraduates (approximately 38,500 of which are full-time and 7,500 part-time) and 5,900 graduate students.[65] Many students come from the Greater Toronto Area, but there is a sizeable population of students from across Canada and abroad, making York one of the most international universities in Canada. To serve this large population, there are 290 student clubs and organizations; six student-run publications and three broadcast programs; six art galleries; 33 on-campus eateries; and a retail mall. Undergraduate students at York are represented by the York Federation of Students, a student-elected body that sponsors most of the clubs, and engages in lobbying with the university administration as well as the provincial and federal governments.[citation needed]

Colleges and residences

York has nine undergraduate residential colleges:

Founders Residence
Vanier Residence
Winters Residence
Colleges of York University


Motto/Mandate Academic Affiliations Undergrad Population Namesake


"Technology and the Arts" Schulich School of Business, Economics, Business and Society, Cognitive Science, Communication Studies, Psychology 4806 Norman-French for pipe or pipestem.


"Self, Culture & Society" Anthropology, Environmental Studies, French, Geography, Italian, History, African studies, East Asian studies, Social Work, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, South Asian Studies, International Development, Urban studies 4185 The Group of Seven, often referred to as "The Founders of Canadian Art"


Bilingual Liberal Arts Liberal Arts, English, French, Public Policy, International Affairs approx. 3000 A combination of "glen" meaning "valley" and "Don" for the Don River.


Public Policy & Social Sciences Political Science, Sociology, Law and Society, Criminology, Public Policy, Health and Society, Labour Studies 5128 Colonel Samuel McLaughlin, businessman and philanthropist.
New College


Professional Studies Human Resources, Administrative Studies, Information Technology unknown Newest college at York University.
Norman Bethune


"Science and its Place in the World" Natural Sciences, Engineering, BSc. Kinesiology, Science and Technology Studies (formerly Science and Society) 6261 Dr. Norman Bethune, Canadian doctor and Chinese hero.


Language and Sport English and other Languages, BA. Kinesiology, Health Science 4336 The Stong family lived on the land now occupied by the Keele campus.


Humanities Children's Studies, Classical Studies & Classics, Culture and Expression, Hellenic Studies, Individualized Studies, Jewish Studies, Liberal Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Social and Political Thought, all Undecided Majors in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies 6909 Georges Vanier, Governor-General of Canada.


Fine Arts Fine Arts 2574 Robert Winters, Canadian Cabinet Minister and York's first chairman.
Glendon College acts as both a faculty and a college of the university. New College was created in 2009 to accommodate the creation of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.

Residence Life

Residence Life at York University is part of the Centre for Student Community and Leadership Development (SCLD), that manages the eight residence buildings on the Keele campus. These Residences are divided into two complexes on either side of campus: Complex 1 includes Winters Residence, Tatham Hall Residence, Vanier Residence, and Founders Residence; Complex 2 includes Bethune Residence, Calumet Residence, Stong Residence, and Pond Residence (the newest residence, and sometimes referred to as Complex 3 grouped with the York Apartments). Each residence is linked to one of the aforementioned colleges, but since 2007 have been managed through SCLD rather than the Master's Offices of each College. Residence Life works closely in partnership with Student Housing Services, a separate campus office. Residence Life provides and manages the student programming and support, while Housing Services manages the facilities, room placements and application processes. The Residence Life Staff is composed of Residence Life Coordinators, Residence Dons, and Night Porters designated to each building. Residence Life also maintains important partnerships with several campus services, including but not limited to Security Services, Food Services, Sport and Recreation, Centre for Human Rights, Office of Student Conflict Resolution, York Federation of Students, and Colleges and College Councils.

The Village at York University

The Village at York University [66] off-campus student housing area has become a popular area of accommodation for many upper-year and post-graduate students, and the area has had a large amount of attention particularly for large parties hosted by students, including the annual Battle of the Village kegger held in March. There have also been many reports of the level of noise pollution from late-night parties from students living in the area.[67] Safety has also been a pressing issue.

The Village is a residential neighbourhood within the City of Toronto, occupying about 130 acres beyond the south boundary of York University's property. Residential dwellings in The Village are privately owned, and homeowners in this community are City of Toronto taxpayers. York University participates in the Village At York Town and Gown Committee, with representatives of residents of The Village; the York Federation of Students; Toronto Police Service and Toronto Fire Service, as well as other key municipal agencies and the local Councillors' office. This committee addresses concerns of residents, students, the City and the University, such as community safety and by-law enforcement and compliance.

Newspapers and other publications

Excalibur has been the university's autonomous student newspaper since 1966. In 2008, the YU Free Press was formed as an alternative campus newspaper.[68]

Colleges and some programs also have individual newspapers or magazines. They include: The Flying Walrus (Stong College), MacMedia (McLaughlin College), The Pipe (Calumet College), Artichoke (Winters College), SOFA (Spotlight On Fine Arts), The Lexicon (Norman Bethune College), The Vandoo (Vanier College), The Phoenix (Founders College), Pro Tem (Glendon College), Obiter Dicta (Osgoode Law School), and The Insider (Schulich School of Business).

Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature (est. 1978) is a national publication with local and international contributors. It is financed by Vanier College Council. The journal publishes short fiction, poetry, non-fiction and art from novices and seasoned veterans. Several major writers got their early start in Existere.

YorkU Magazine (est. 2003) is the official magazine of York University. It is published 3 times a year in both a print and digital format.


York University vs University of Guelph

The University is represented in Canadian Interuniversity Sport by the York Lions. Beginning in 1968 York's sporting teams were known as the "Yeomen", after the Yeomen Warders, the guardians of the fortress and palace at the Tower of London, otherwise known as Beefeaters. Later, the name "Yeowomen" was introduced to encourage women to participate in sports. Popular sentiment ran against this name scheme, however, as many students were fond of noting that a "Yeowoman" was fictitious, neither a real word nor having any historical merit. In 2003, after conducting an extensive internal study, the University replaced both names with the "Lions", as part of a larger renaming effort, and a new logo, now a white and red lion, was brought into line with the university's new visual scheme. The name change also brought York University in line with the 92% of other Canadian universities which use a single name for both sexes' sports teams. Ironically, students often refer to the female Lions teams as the "York Lionesses", even though the name "Lion" is intended to apply to both sexes.[69]

York offers 29 interuniversity sport teams, 12 sport clubs, 35 intramural sport leagues, special events and 10 pick-up sport activities offered daily.

York University has several athletic facilities, some of which are used for major tournaments. These include a football stadium, 4 gymnasia, 5 sport playing fields, 4 softball fields, 9 outdoor tennis courts, 5 squash courts, 3 dance/aerobic studios, 6 ice arenas, a swimming pool, an expanding fitness centre and the new Aviva Centre (home of the Rogers Tennis Cup).

In 2014 the York Lions won four banners: the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men’s national track and field championship, the Ontario University Athletics women’s provincial tennis championship and both the OUA and CIS men’s soccer titles. York will be hosting the 2015 CIS Men’s Soccer Championships at York Stadium November, 2015.[70]

Fight song

Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement and convocation, and athletic games are: "York Song", sung to the tune "Harvard".[71]

There are also college songs, particularly from the friendly feuds between Stong College and Bethune College, and the infamous Winters College and Vanier College cheer songs.

Fraternities and Sororities

With both fraternities and sororities operating on campus, York University is home to a vibrant "Greek" community. Though the organizations are not officially recognized by the University, they do provide member students with valuable experiences throughout their post-secondary academic careers to supplement campus life. Many lifelong friendships are forged through these societies, which place a great deal of emphasis on academic achievement, leadership and philanthropy.


Over the years, fraternities and sororities have operated unofficially on campus:



Phi Delta Phi (ΦΔΦ) international legal fraternity, at Osgoode Law School, was given special dispensation when the law school became part of the university, as the fraternity's history with the law school dated back to 1896, and is recognized at York.


A TTC Orion V bus at York

York University is sometimes referred to as a "commuter school". Over 65% of the students and staff have home addresses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), particularly in York Region, Peel Region, and downtown Toronto. Many students are opting for public transit owing to York's high parking fees. York intends to increase the fees for parking to combat congestion around campus and to support the goal of making Toronto more environmentally friendly.

Close to fourteen hundred buses move people through the campus each day. An extension of the Yonge-University-Spadina line of the Toronto Subway is currently under construction. It will run directly under the campus, creating new stations at Keele Street and Finch Avenue (as Finch West station), at the centre of campus (as York University station), and at Steeles Avenue, interfacing with York Regional Transit (as Black Creek Pioneer Village station).

York University's Glendon and Keele campuses are served by the TTC. The Keele site is also served by York Region Transit buses (both regular and Viva) from the immediate north, GO Transit express buses from several other Toronto suburbs and colleges or universities (such as Sheridan College and UOIT) along with Greyhound buses for regional transportation. Transportation Services operates a shuttle service to GO Transit's York University train station on its Barrie corridor. As of November 20, 2009, express buses on the highly frequent 196 York University Rocket Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus route now use the dedicated York University Busway to transport students from Downsview station to York Lanes in about 15 minutes. It consists of bus-only lanes on Allen Road and Dufferin Street, and bus-only roadways through a hydro corridor north of Finch Avenue West, and along the east side of the campus. As of September 20, 2010, the Züm Route 501 provides service from Bramalea Terminal in Brampton to York University.

Campus safety

York University is physically located in a diverse area of Toronto. York University Department of Security Services provides security services on the university's campuses. York Security Services provide uniformed security staff which consist of campus liaison officers (community services unit) and the Investigative Unit which works closely with the Toronto Police Services. The investigative unit and Toronto Police Investigative Units and 31 Division work jointly on serious investigations. Patrols are conducted on foot, bicycle and vehicle. The security service is a member of the Ontario Association of College and University Security Administrators (OACUSA) and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). The campus community is over 55,000 people.

The department uses marked Ford Crown Victorias which are clearly identifiable with low-profile LED roof lights. The department responds to all calls for service, however incidents of a criminal nature should be reported to Toronto Police. Uniform security staff can be clearly identified by their dark cargo-style pants, red shirt (York University colour) and black exterior body armour (bulletproof vest covers). Residence watch staff are also posted nightly at all undergraduate residence buildings to provide an extra level of protection. As part of the campus safety system a student escort service is available to all members of the community. The escort staff are students hired on a part-time basis. In an emergency escort staff have immediate communication with Security Services.


In June 2008, the university announced it had commissioned an external safety audit after a string of rapes on the university campus. During frosh week 2007, two men entered a campus dormitory and raped two students.[77][78] The victims were 17 and 18 years old at the time.[79] A lawsuit filed claims that "the entrance door to the college and to the residential room areas of the college were virtually wide open to the public at large".[80] The next year, in January 2008, another student was sexually assaulted in the stairwell of a campus building.[81] In May 2009, a contract security guard was shot at a York University campus pub, The Underground.[82]

In April 2010, a 20-year-old student was sexually assaulted while walking to her apartment, located minutes away from the main campus.[83] The incident, described by police as "particularly severe" and resulting in "very serious" injuries for the victim, was particularly notable as it occurred just a week after Daniel Katsnelson was sentenced for the 2007 rape on the university campus.[84][85]

The incident further reignited criticism against the school for continued delays in releasing the campus safety audit, which was first announced nearly 2 years prior.[77][86] On March 31, 2010, less than a month prior to the April 2010 incident, the campus newspaper, Excalibur published an article lambasting the school administration for delays in releasing the audit.[77] A spokesman for the university responded that the school is still "anxiously awaiting" the report.[87]

In April 2011, campus security was temporarily increased following the murder of a 23-year-old Chinese overseas student[88][89] in the York University Village.[90][91][92] The university temporarily hired paid duty Toronto Police Officers to patrol the campus.[citation needed] On August 26, 2011, York University announced that in response to recommendations in the METRAC Safety Audit, the University will be modifying the service delivery model for York Security Services (YSS) personnel. Members will be trained and issued with handcuffs and batons. Cruisers are to also be equipped with "silent partners" for transporting arrested persons.[93]

On November 20, 2012, York University initiated the intervention capable delivery model for security services. Having been certified after undergoing training in August 2012, personnel were equipped with handcuffs and batons, and began wearing a dark grey uniform, replacing the red uniform, to signify the change in role for the community.[94] York still does not train its security staff to the level of special constables, giving them police powers on campus, like other universities in Ontario including, Western, Waterloo, WLU, Brock, Carleton, U of T, Guelph, Windsor and Fanshawe College.

On March 6, 2014, Toronto Police and EMS responded late at night to a shooting at the York University Student Centre. Two women were found at the scene; one had been shot and suffered non-life-threatening injuries and another received minor (non-gun-related) injuries from the suspect. A suspect was apprehended and subsequently charged.[95] On April 10, 2014 two injured students and six others who witnessed the shooting filed a $20.5 million lawsuit against the University. Toronto Law Firm, Diamond and Diamond filed the suit alleging a pattern of negligence.[96]



Noted alumni and faculty

Distinguished Research Professors

The rank of "Distinguished Research Professor" is the highest rank a professor can achieve at York University. There are only ever 25 active Distinguished Research Professors at any time.[98] It is awarded to members of the faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the University through their work in research.[99]


Violation of academic freedom

In the aftermath of an academic conference that took place in 2009, titled "Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace",[100] which explored the possible models of statehood for Israel/Palestine, including the one state model, concerns were raised about the way the York Administration has handled the political pressure.[101] Some of the organizers accused the York administration, mainly the then Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School and the Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation, of putting undue pressure on the organizers in order to force them to change the content of the conference, invite or disinvite some speakers. The accusations[102] were supported by documents and emails that were obtained through the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act.

The York administration appointed former Supreme Court of Canada Judge to review the issue, but the Iacobucci Review was problematic, and the terms of reference[103] for the review were seen as an attack on academic freedom. The whole issue is being investigated by the Canadian Association of University Teachers.[104]

In response to the allegations made, a University spokesperson said that the University should be judged the fact that event took place despite the pressure not to hold it, and that there is always internal discussion as part of the planning of all events. He added that "In the end, this conference did go on and we do not feel that academic freedom was breached."[105] Vice President and Provost, Patrick Monahan, said, about these allegation that "Justice Iacobucci has looked at that and he does not see any purpose in conducting further inquiries. Obviously there are a lot of different views about it.”[105] Yet, it seems that the Iaccobucci Report is seen by many faculty members at Osgoode as controversial. In a letter from the Osgoode Hall Faculty Association, the Association said that it "considers the Iacobucci Report to be unsound and unreliable."[106] The Association also said that "the Report both jeopardizes academic freedom and fails to consider the troubling conduct of the York officials."

Intimidation and Harassment of Pro-Israel Groups

On February 11, 2009, tensions between pro-Israeli students, and their anti-Israeli counterparts broke into physical unilateral conflict.

Some pro-Israeli Speakers at a conference involved with the Drop YFS campaign called for the impeachment of some York Federation of Students (YFS) executives due to their inactivity during the recent CUPE strike at the time, which shut down the university for three months. The 5,000 signatures necessary to do this were gathered as part of a wider initiative to oust the YFS executives. At the time of submission of the petition, approximately 100 pro-Palestinian students including those from SAIA and the local chapter of the Tamil Tigers reacted to that with protests.[107]

According to pro-Israeli sources including the student group that was attacked, the demonstrators, which reportedly consisted of members of the YFS and Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), shouted “Zionism equals racism!” and “Racists off campus!” One witness stated that “a riot broke out. They [YFS supporters] started banging the door and windows, intimidating Jewish students and screaming anti semitic slurs like “Die Jew,” “Get the hell off campus,” “Go back to Israel,” and “F---ing Jew".[107] The students barricaded themselves inside the Hillel offices, where protesters reportedly banged on the windows and attempted to force their way in. Eventually police were called to escort Jewish students through the protesters.[108][109][110][111] The claims of anti-Semitic slurs were not widely reported by the media that were present at the time, as some believe that this accusation lacks credibility.[112] The slurs were reported in Jewish community papers, The Globe and Mail and the Canadian Huffington Post among others.[107][113][114] Roughly a year later a video surfaced on YouTube that showed the incident unfolding from the trapped Jewish students' side, the video is alleged to show the protesters verbally and physically harass dissenters and force them to seek refuge in the Hillel office.[115]

Interestingly, the anti-Israeli side had a different viewpoint. Krisna Saravanamuttu, York Federation of Students' vice-president of equity, who took part in the protest, denied that the protesters shouted anti-semitic slogans, stating that "That is categorically false. I heard nothing of that nature at all." He did however, confirm that the protesters shouted "racism off campus" and "students united will never be defeated."[116] Some York faculty and students have rejected these claims of anti-Semitism as media spin and exaggeration [117] It should be noted that the petition, if successful would have removed him from his position and that he was spotted as not only being with the protestors during the incident but also according to some accounts leading them.[107]

In May 2009, York adjudicator Professor Janet Mosher, who was then Associate Dean at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, ruled that two York students, Krisna Saravanamuttu and Jesse Zimmerman, had violated the Student Code of Conduct due to their behaviour at the protest, which she described as “exclusionary and offensive” and which promoted an atmosphere of “hostility, incivility and intimidation.” Mosher noted that both students participated in the protest which pursued a group of Jewish students to Hillel’s lounge in York’s Student Centre, and swarmed outside shouting taunts. On a video of the incident, Saravanamuttu was shown clapping and apparently leading a chant of “Whose campus? Our campus!” as well as participating in a chant of “Racists off campus." Saravanamuttu was fined $150 and both he and Zimmerman were given an official reprimand and human rights training.[118][119][120]

In February 2010, the campus group the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and My Canada applied to use university space to host the Imagine With Us[121] coalition event consisting of pro-Israel speakers. The University replied that the event could only proceed under certain conditions (which ultimately led to the event's cancellation when the organizers declined to comply with the terms):

  • the organizers would be required to pay for security, including both campus and Toronto police's
  • the organizers must provide an advance list of all program attendees and advance minute-by-minute summaries of all the speeches; and
  • No advertising for the program would be permitted on campus.[122][123]

These conditions drew criticism because they were not imposed on the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week which was being held on campus the same month.[122][123] York's decision drew sharp criticism from David Frum who wrote in the National Post that "Since the anti-Israel people might use violence, the speech of the pro-Israel people must be limited. On the other hand, since the pro-Israel people do not use violence, the speech of the anti-Israel people can proceed without restraint." A York University spokesman subsequently told Frum that "all student groups that request university space" must meet "precisely same requirements" but that while the “process” and the “protocols” that were the same, a “needs-based assessment” of each particular case is necessary. Frum subsequently criticized the "utterly arbitrary ad hoc decision-making of a fathomlessly cowardly university administration." Frank Dimant, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada also sharply criticized York's justification, arguing that "York’s continued appeasement of anti-Israel agitators at the expense of Zionist Christians and Jews is unacceptable.”[122]

Professor Ed Morgan of the University of Toronto criticized York, citing a 1992 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a county government's increased fee for police protection for a controversial speaker because "speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob." Regarding the situation at York, Morgan wrote that "It's bad enough that there are "hostile mobs" on our campuses; making others pay for that hostility only rubs salt in our wounded freedoms."[124] Prof. Howard C. Tenenbaum, also of the University of Toronto, wrote that York "has lost all stature as an academic institution whose remit is to provide for full academic discourse, freedom from hatred on campus and freedom of speech, unless of course that freedom only includes unabashed hatred for the State of Israel."[125] David Murrell of the University of New Brunswick wrote that "Everyone has a supposed right to free speech at York University – so long as groups can afford to pay security against leftist intimidation."[126]

In March 2013, the York Federation of Students (YFS) endorsed BDS at the university. It is alleged that no one from Hillel at York or Hasbara @ York, was officially informed of the meeting, the motion, or of the agenda that resulted in this resolution. The groups claim that they only found out about the meeting the day before it was scheduled and only because a member of Hillel at York overheard from the YFS that it would be happening the following day.[127] It is also alleged that there was no official audit of the petition that resulted in said motion.[128]

Recently there has been controversy raised regarding a mural in the student centre that depicts a man cloaked in a scarf bearing the entire state of Israel as Palestine as well as him holding stones behind his back. The main issue behind this is that it depicts a violent act in the making and uses symbols associated with terrorist organizations.[129]


York University has a history of faculty and teaching assistant strikes. In 1997, there was a faculty strike by YUFA[130] that lasted seven weeks. At the time, this was the second longest strike in Canadian University history.[131]

Key issues in the strike included retirement, funding, and institutional governance. In 2001, teaching assistants and contract faculty went on strike for 11 weeks, when the university broke its own record.[132] The central issue in the 2001 disruption was the administration's proposed attempts to remove tuition indexation language.

A strike beginning on November 6, 2008[133] concerned a variety of institutional grievances, including job security for contract professors, elimination of the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct, creation of whistleblower protection, and fund indexation. On January 20, 2009, CUPE 3903 defeated a forced ratification vote that would have ended the strike. On January 24, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty announced a rare Sunday recall of the provincial legislature in order to pass back-to-work legislation mandating an immediate end to the strike.[134] On January 29, the York University Labour Disputes Resolution Act was passed in the provincial parliament on a count of 42–8 ending the long 85-day strike and setting a precedent for future university strikes in Ontario.

An additional strike by teachings assistants, contract faculty, and graduate assistants took place throughout March 2015. When the strike began, on March 2, the university cancelled nearly all classes because about 2/3 of York courses were taught by the striking contract faculty at the time. On March 10, the contract faculty ratified a new agreement, but the teaching assistants and graduate assistants rejected tentative agreements the bargaining team had reached with the university. The contract faculty immediately returned to work and, at that point, the university gradually restarted nearly all courses. The teaching assistants and graduate assistants, however, continued their strike until the end of the month. The union reached a tentative agreement with the university on March 29, 2015 which was ratified on March 31, 2015, thus putting an immediate end to the 29 day strike.

Issuance of parking tickets

Toronto City Councillor Howard Moscoe claims that York University is illegally issuing parking tickets to persons parking on York University property.[135] Legally the City of Toronto is the only regulatory body allowed to issue parking tickets. York University refuses to surrender student transcripts to students who have failed to pay parking fees. York University spokesman Richard Fisher states "It's identical to when you renew your taxi or driver's licences. Unless you pay your fines, you don't get it [renewed] and that's because that's their last opportunity to actually get you before you depart. And I think we are in the same situation."[135]

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External links