Resisting the Mandated Leave of Absence Policy

The University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy disproportionately targets mad and disabled students in crisis, removing them from their communities and support services in a time of need. To show your disapproval of the Policy while it is under review, please copy and paste this email and send it to the addresses listed below. For more information see here.

To find out how you can get involved with this campaign, contact us at board@uoftsba.com.

EMAIL YOUR LETTERS TO:
Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr: provost@utoronto.ca
Vice Provost, Students: vp.students@utoronto.ca
Professor Donald Ainslie: donald.ainslie@utoronto.ca

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr, Vice-Provost, Students Sandy Welsh, Acting Vice-Provost, Students Micah Stickel, and Professor Donald Ainslie,

I am writing to you as a concerned student regarding the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy currently under review by the Provost. 

I appreciate your efforts in opening an online portal for student consultation and hosting live feedback townhall sessions as a part of this review period. I also appreciate the extension of the review period to Fall 2021.

I am writing to express concerns about the direct and indirect impact of the Policy on the student population. 

  • The Policy has a chilling effect on students seeking mental health support. Students are deterred from seeking care for fear of the Policy being applied to them.
  • The Policy assumes the provision of adequate accommodations which the University’s own Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health found to be inaccessible. This is further supported by student testimonials.
  • The Policy denies student autonomy by excluding students from the process of selecting a Student Case Manager and Student Support Team. Instead, the Vice Provost, Students, with no mandatory training with respect to mental health crises, is tasked with this selection. Autonomy is further compromised by the fact that students cannot determine the terms and conditions of their own leave.
  • The time limits defined in the Policy are not procedurally fair. They are inaccessible to a student in crisis. 10 days is not enough time to file an appeal when in crisis, either to the Provost or to the Discipline Appeals Board. The extension period is inadequate, as the student must still make the request within 10 days. 
  • Students are expected to seek their own legal counsel with no assistance from the university. Students face serious financial barriers and may lack the requisite knowledge to seek counsel on their own. Downtown Legal Services will only represent students on appeal to the Tribunal. 
  • When there is an“Urgent Situation” (per s.46), the student’s support is immediately removed. They are forced to wait an excruciating five days for the Vice Provost, Students to review their case. This time period of no support could be lethal for a student in crisis. 
  • The consultation process in 2018 and during the current review process has been poorly communicated. The language of the Policy itself is inaccessible to students and there has been no attempt by the administration to make Policy more accessible. The town halls and feedback forms have been poorly advertised and have been planned last-minute,  both in the middle of the school day and during students’ preparation for the end-of-term.

I join Students for Barrier-Free Access in their call on the Vice Provost Students’ Office to do their due diligence by:

  1. hosting information sessions about and releasing a companion guide for the current  version of the Policy; 
  2. explaining how the feedback of the Ontario Human Rights Commission was taken up in the current version of the Policy; 
  3. informing students of how their past feedback, as well as the feedback that was provided by the wider disability community on the Policy was taken up in the current version of the policy and finally;
  4. explaining to students how their feedback on the current version of the Policy will be used in the future.

I also stand by Students for Barrier-free Access’ 2017 statement on this policy. I                             

cannot support a policy which targets students with disabilities or students

experiencing distress in order to place them on mandatory leave. In its current form, the policy disproportionately impacts already-marginalized students located at the intersections of multiple identities by removing them from their campus communities and leaving their access to funding and essential services at the discretion of the university.

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