Between the new subway station, the construction of a new student centre and the expansion of the Schulich School of Business on campus, York University has some significant changes on the horizon. One such change directly benefits students: York’s Senate has passed a student-led proposal to reinstate a full Fall Reading Week beginning October 2018.
The final proposal to amend the Senate Policy on Sessional Dates and the Scheduling of Final Examinations was brought before Senate in October 2017, where it was passed with full support. The decision to schedule two full-length Reading Weeks is in response to the needs of students and is intended to support academic success and student wellness by providing a more effective study/revision period.
Supporting Student Initiatives
There are many benefits to having a full Fall Reading Week. Students will have more time to prepare for midterms, complete important assignments and prepare for the remaining assignments in the term. The driving force behind the longer break, however, was to help students balance their academic progress with awareness of health and wellness. With a few extra days to revise during the Fall term, students will have more opportunities to access key academic support services and decompress, easing academic strain. York University places a high emphasis on supporting student health and wellness, which is integral to their academic success.
Carol Altilia, Registrar of York University, spoke about the significance of the move towards a full Fall Reading Week: “Supporting this student-led initiative underscores the importance that the Division of Students places on partnering with students to advance their matters of concern and emphasizes the University’s commitment to supporting student wellbeing and mental health.”
The impact of the change includes a number of adjustments to Orientation scheduling and modifying the means by which the study day between the end of classes and the first day of exams will be provided to all students. For more information regarding York University important dates, visit the Registrar’s Office website.
York University provides students with a range of health and wellness resources to create a healthy, inclusive and supportive environment that fosters well-being among members of the York community and contributes to students’ academic success. Lucy Fromowitz, Vice-Provost Students, and Dr. Marc Wilchesky, Executive Director, Counselling & Disability Services, are pleased to announce the following organization changes to better serve the needs of York U students.
Effective immediately, Learning Disability Services (LDS), Mental Health Disability Services (MHDS) and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services (PSMDS) will be collectively renamed “Student Accessibility Services” (SAS) and Personal Counselling Services will now be called “Student Counselling & Development” (SCD). These changes will help students and the University community easily identify the appropriate support provider for students’ specific needs. Note that the Glendon campus will continue to provide health, wellness and accessibility services on that campus under the current name of The Accessibility, Well-Being & Counselling (AWC) Centre.
Maureen Barnes, current manager of Learning Disability Services, will assume the role of Director, Student Accessibility Services to ensure an efficient and effective transition of York’s three separate accessibility service units into one department that will deliver consistent and transparent services to students. Karen Swartz and Mark Mingail will continue in their current leadership roles in SAS. Polly MacFarlane, current director of Personal Counselling Services, will assume the role of Director, Student Counselling & Development.
The realignment of SAS includes developing a new communications plan to help all members of the York community differentiate between accessibility services (learning; mental health; and physical, sensory and medical) and counselling services. Although SAS will no longer use the various unit names (Learning Disability Services, Mental Health Disability Services and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services), each of those teams will remain intact and will continue to support students as they do currently.
York’s decision to position the two support pillars – Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and Student Counselling & Development (SCD) – is in keeping with an ongoing transition throughout the postsecondary education sector in both Canada and the United States. Current scholarship and industry practice points to a shift away from the use of the term “disability” when describing services and resources toward the more inclusive term “accessibility.” The name change to Student Accessibility Services emphasizes the significant role of the accessibility unit in helping to make the campus more accessible for learning. The name change to Student Counselling & Development better reflects their mandate to help York students realize, develop and fulfill their personal potential in order to maximally benefit from their university experience and manage the challenges of university life.
These organization changes, in turn, support and align with the Division of Students’ vision – to be Partners in Student Success.
Changes will roll out gradually in digital and print communications over the next month and be complete by the New Year.
York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton welcomed the Invictus Games National Flag Tour to the Keele campus on Sept. 20.
At the welcome ceremony, Lenton announced a new award in honour of the Invictus Games in support of increased access to postsecondary education for Canada’s Military personnel and their children.
The York University Service Award provides up to $20,000 over four years to a York University student who is a Canadian Armed Forces member, active or retired, and who has a physical, sensory, medical, mental health or learning disability. The award will also be available to a student with a disability who is a child of a Canadian Armed Forces member.
“This new award will stand as a legacy of the 2017 Invictus Games at York, and will serve as an important way to honour the dedicated individuals whose commitment to service exemplifies the best of Canada,” said Lenton. “It is a great honour to host the inspiring athletes who will compete at next week’s Invictus Games here at York, and we look forward to welcoming competitors, their families and the wider community to the University.”
“The York University Service Award demonstrates the institution’s recognition of the dedication and courage of the men and women who serve our country so well. I know what a tremendous impact events and programs like this have on our military and their families,” said Brigadier-General Stephen Cadden, commander, 4th Canadian Division.
York University’s Keele Campus was the first stop in the Greater Toronto Area during The National Flag Tour, which has travelled from coast-to-coast visiting 22 military bases, 15 legions and more than 50 communities. The tour runs from Aug. 16 through to Sept. 22.
York University students Sayem Khan and Giovanna Cioffi and Professor Walter Perchal, were selected to help carry the Official Invictus Games Flag – a physical representation of the unconquerable spirit of the Games’ competitors.
Sayem Khan is a member of the elite Schulich Ambassador Program at the Schulich School of Business at York University. Khan applied to be a flag bearer via the Invictus Games. He arrived in Canada as an immigrant and is proud of his work with the Toronto Police Service’s ‘Youth in Policing’ initiative.
Professor Walter Perchal is a current member of the York University faculty. He served with the Canadian Forces for many years. Over the course of his duties, as a Senior Officer, Perchal previously commanded The Royal Regiment of Canada. He later served as Special Advisor to the Canadian Army Commander, and did foreign service as a Military Advisor with NATO Allies.
Giovanna Cioffi is a three-time graduate of York University. She is now pursuing her PhD in Communication and Culture. Coffi earned two master’s degrees including Environmental Science and Disaster and Emergency Management from York, following her undergraduate York Degree. She currently serves with the Canadian Forces.
The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 takes place from Sept. 23 to 30. York University will serve as a venue for the games’ athletics competition. York is among several venues in the Greater Toronto Area to host the competition. On Sept. 24 and 25 athletes will compete at the York Lions Stadium in athletics events that include track, jumping, throwing and combined events including those competing in wheelchairs, with prostheses, or under the guidance of a sighted person known as a guide.
The Invictus Games uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of and respect for those who serve their country and their loved ones. Visit www.InvictusGames2017.com for the full Flag Tour schedule and tickets.
This feature is repurposed from Yfile, York University’s eNewletter, September 21, 2017.