Uncovering UTMIA: A deep dive into 'Men's Issues Awareness at the University of Toronto' - 2018-01-01
It's 7 PM as I'm sitting in the Banting Building, Room 131, being jolted by screeching microphone feedback as four men stand behind me, looking on. The event is "Prosecuting Sexual Assault: Should you hear it all?", and the event organizer, Ed Sullivan, sternly addresses the crowd by noting that U of T's policies for disruption are in effect for the event. Ever since my first year on campus, when I saw these posters on boards in Sid Smith, outside buildings, and in residence, I've been driven to know more about what these events are and what it means for university-recognized Men's Rights groups to hold such events on campus. So, on November 23rd, I decided to find out.
The event was put on by the ULife recognized group, "Men's Issues Awareness at the University of Toronto", otherwise known as UTMIA. A U of T-specific offshoot of the Canadian Association For Equality (CAFE), UTMIA has held numerous events on campus since its 2012 inception, all of them advertised with the same bold, minimalist posters.
The event itself was set up very formally—tickets were sold both online and at the door, representatives from CAFE were set up outside to hand out pamphlets and fliers, and a microphone for discussion during the debate was set up at the front. In contrast to this panel-style atmosphere, during the entire event, at least four men were stood close behind me, while the GoFundMe for CAFE's Men's Shelter was projected onto the wall. As an aside, Justin Trottier – the founder of CAFÉ – stated that if they hit their GoFundMe goal of $50,00, their sponsor would match that donation. When I enquired about who that sponsor was, I did not receive a response, but in the page description, it notes that they "[…] have government agencies providing resources for this initiative and […] are now considering ongoing financial support, but it is critical that we show that this project has strong public backing." These sources go unnamed, and I am unsure if they refer to the same sponsors as Trottier mentioned at the event. I reached out to him for information on both the government source and the source who will match this $50,000 donation, and his response is quoted here: