Tag Archives: inclusion

The Inclusive Campus: Changes to Documentation Guidelines for Mental Health Disabilities

Group of young people standing together speaking (one black man and three white women)

Consistent with York’s culture, history and values, our University has earned a reputation for providing high-quality support to students with disabilities. This is captured — superbly — in the quote below from a student who offered the following when asked to comment on the support received from Counselling & Disability Services (CDS).

I would like to say that the academic accommodation that I received through CDS . . . was the single greatest aid I had in completing my degree. I truly don’t know if I would have been able to complete my degree or get As in my last few courses if I did not have that accommodation. . . . I don’t know how else to explain my gratitude . . .  thank you, CDS.

This is an affirmation of the great work being done to support students with diagnosed disabilities by our disability services staff in Counselling & Disability Services. This work is further supported by Personal Counselling Services (PCS), which strives to assist all students — regardless of whether or not they have a diagnosed disability — to reach  their full personal potential, maximize their University experience and build resilience. On behalf of the Provost, our faculty colleagues, staff from across the campus, and — most notably — all our students: thank you.

With that as context, Marc Wilchesky, the Executive Director of CDS, and I want to provide an update related to academic accommodations. Specifically, Mental Health Disability Services adopted new documentation guidelines in January 2016. Simply put, students no longer have to disclose their specific mental health diagnosis to register for academic accommodations and supports. These changes align with the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s recent Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions (June 2014).

Some students may voluntarily choose to disclose their specific diagnosis to MHDS because professionals therein have expertise that can inform the accommodations process. It’s important to emphasize, however, that students are not required to do so. Instead, the medical documentation only needs to confirm a diagnosed mental health disability and list the specific functional limitations. Students will be eligible to receive the full range of appropriate academic accommodations based on any functional limitations related to the disability.

This change is in keeping with York’s commitment to promote a healthy, inclusive and supportive learning environment that fosters mental health and well-being. It’s a progressive approach being emulated across the province — and yet another example of York’s leadership. It’s but one of the many reasons I am so proud to lead the Division of Students.

More information about MHDS and the new documentation guidelines can be found at: MHDS Registration Information

Things to Remember in the Face of Orlando

York University Sign 2 (for Just Janet blog post)

I hugged my children and cried last night as I watched the London Gay Men’s Chorus sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at a vigil for Orlando in the United Kingdom. In the face of hate and unfathomable violence, the strength and compassion of the LGBTQ2S community shone like a beacon of light. Like President Shoukri, Provost Lenton and Vice-President Brewer last night, I want to extend my condolences to the families of those killed on Sunday, as well as my unwavering support to LGBTQ2S students at York, in Toronto and around the world.

York University is a large, richly diverse learning environment; collectively we hold sacred the values of respect and inclusion. Students, faculty and staff on our campuses pride ourselves on working hard to create safe spaces for everyone. Particularly in this time of shock, sadness and profound grief, however, please take the time to be there for your peers and colleagues — at York, let’s make sure that community remains the fulcrum of support and engagement. Also remember that if you would like to talk to someone, you should contact Personal Counselling Services, the Office of Student Community Relations or Good2Talk.

If you’d like to talk to me personally, email me at vpstdnts@yorku.ca or call me at 416-736-5955.

Please take care of yourself and each other.