University of St. Michael's College

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On the campus of the University of St. Michealís College, U of T. From left: Carr Hall, Teefy Hall, Fisher House, More House, and the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies.

The University of St. Michael's College is a Catholic university within the University of Toronto.

Commonly referred to as St. Mike's, it is one of two Roman Catholic colleges within U of T (the other being Regis College) and the only undergraduate one.

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History and recent concerns

St. Michaelís College was established in 1852 by the Basilian Fathers.

On December 8, 1910, it was declared a Federated college in the Faculty of Arts and Science of the University of Toronto. Today, with an enrolment of around 5,000 students, St. Mikeís is one of seven colleges that constitute U of Tís St. George campus in downtown Toronto.

The college has a long and notable history, and has long been a major part of Toronto culture. Most famous, for many years, was the college's sports program, which was one of the best in Canada. The St. Michael's students were known as the Fighting Irish of Bay Street, in reference to the Catholic sports powerhouse of the University of Notre Dame in the United States. Toronto's current OHL franchise, the St. Michael's Majors, is a descendant of the college's once elite ice hockey team. The team is now operated by St. Michael's College School - the high school which was, until the 1940's, directly linked with the College.

In recent years St. Michael's has also run into financial problems. It does not have the large land holdings of Victoria College or the wealthy alumni of Trinity College and has not been able to build nearly as large an endowment. Thus many facilities such as the meal halls and library are archaic compared to those of some other colleges. The College has tried to cope with rising maintenance costs and declining government support. While it used to enjoy a "living endowment," where the salaries of clergy who were staff was donated back to the college, the rise in secular staff means that the old source of revenue is almost non-existent, compelling the college to seek new sources of revenue. This has led to more aggressive fundraising and the potential sale of College land to raise needed funds. Some students have voiciferously protested against the planned sale of land, arguing that it the funds generated by the sale will eventually be frittered away and the College will be left poorer. Proponents of the sale, however, argue that the money will be invested wisely to help the College's finances in perpetuity.

The school has remained staunchly Roman Catholic; for example, virtually all St. Michael's residences are segregated by sex. The sole exception was temporary housing in a hotel for an overflow of students, which quietly led to the College's first-ever co-ed residence. The primary, permanent residences enjoy the supervision of priests and nuns, which leads to mixed reactions from students. Some find the presence of clergy reassuring, while others do not appreciate it. Women in particular sometimes complain that their residences are second-class compared to those of the men. They point to the construction of a brand-new residence for men as evidence, while their buildings are decades-old and cramped compared to some of the mens' spacious dorm rooms.

New for 2005-2006: Originally founded in 1856 as a residence for men, in 2005-2006 the SMC Student Residence will begin welcoming female residents as well. Accommodation for men and women will be provided though all-male or all-female houses, with all residents sharing common dining and recreational facilities. Details of our transition are still being developed, so please check this page often for updates on how to apply, and other important details <http://www.utoronto.ca/stmikes/residence/coed.html>.

In recent years St. Michael's opened a storm of controversy when it accepted a large donation from Imperial Tobacco for a business ethics course. Anti-tobacco activists saw this donation as questionable and pushed the College to reject it. St. Michael's refused at first, but is now reconsidering its decision. Students, however, were largely indifferent towards the controversy, glad that the College was getting badly needed donations. The controversy was generated primarily by a government-funded anti-tobacco protest group and failed to gain any significant support from the student body; it subsequently died away.

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