The University of Toronto's governing council recently approved a controversial mental health policy that students and community members are criticizing.
The new policy could see students experiencing mental health issues placed on a mandatory leave of absence, if the school deems it necessary.
According to a statement from Sandy Welsh, the university’s vice provost for students, the policy will only be applied in "rare cases."
In an interview with Welsh earlier this year published on U of T's website, Welsh says that the leave is necessary in some cases for students to "concentrate on their health and to protect their academic record."
Critics of the policy, some of them former students at the university, don't see this to be the case.
how is putting a policy of mandatory leave for mental health students in place going to make anything better at uoft? are y’all gonna work on treating people better & having a less hostile environment while they’re gone and surprise them or? i don’t get it— nana 🌸 (@Gyasiwaaaa_) June 27, 2018
Students and university community members opposed to the policy say that it fails to provide students living with mental health issues adequate accommodation.
According to the document, the policy provides a process where a student may be put on a mandatory leave of absence.
"When it becomes apparent that a student’s behaviour, due to serious health or mental health issues, poses a risk of serious harm to themselves or others," reads the document. "Or significantly impairs the educational experience of other students, or the student is unable to engage in the essential activities required to pursue an education."
I would have been forced to take a leave during the last 3 years of my degree. Blatant discrimination. UofT approves student leave of absence policy that has drawn criticism https://t.co/TTxMWHREgw via @torontostar— Alisa Gayle (@AlisaGaylePiano) June 28, 2018
This permission is followed by the condition that the policy will be applied "in circumstances where accommodations and/or supportive resources have not been successful or are not feasible."
The university, according to the document, has been considering a mandatory leave of absence policy for a couple of years and is to be carried out "in exceptional circumstances, and even then only with very significant procedural safeguards for students and a rigorous approach to exploring accommodations and supportive resources."
Students will also be "encouraged, and supported" to agree take a Voluntary Leave of Absence.
idk why i had hope that @UofT would address the prevalent mental health tendencies in their school and make an effort to help their students instead of just covering it up— Margarita 💛💙❤️ (@100fountains) June 25, 2018
If a University-Mandated Leave of Absence is necessary, the school says it will provide a "clear pathway" for both the leaving of and returning to studies.
"... the policy talks about making accommodations for students and only invoking the policy if these are not working," wrote Jacquie Beaulieu, a PhD Candidate at the university, on Twitter.
"What isn’t stated is that the university will also commit to looking into what might be going on for students in terms of their experience at the university."
by Lisa Cumming via blogTO