Our Mental Health Matters: The Risks of the University of Toronto Mandated Leave of Absence Policy (UMLAP)

The University of Toronto Mandated Leave of Absence Policy (UMLAP) was introduced in 2018, and since then has led to 13 students being forced out of their studies. While a review was conducted this last year to address some of the concerns being raised by students, faculty, and staff, there are still many areas of the policy that threaten student autonomy and the ability to receive critical mental health support out of fear of repercussions. We need a compassionate approach that addresses the ongoing mental health crisis at UofT and destigmatizes asking for help.

On Thursday, January 20th at 6:30 to 8:30 pm, the UTMSU, APUS, SCSU, UTGSU,  Students for Barrier-Free Access (SBA), and UofT Law Union (UTLU) will be hosting a panel discussion that addresses the risks of mandated and involuntary leaves. Special focus will be given to hearing about the experiences of speakers from the United States and their approaches to mandated and involuntary leave policies. This can give us insights on ways to further develop strategies to support the mental health of students studying in Ontario.

ASL interpretation, active listener and zoom auto-generated captions will be provided.
Register in advance for this webinar:

Speakers' bio:

Dianne Wintermute

Dianne is a lawyer with ARCH Disability Law Centre, a specialty legal clinic in Ontario.  ARCH is dedicated to advancing and defending the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities through a human rights and poverty lens.   To achieve this goal, ARCH engages in test case/systemic litigation, law reform activities, community development and legal education events like the one this evening.  Dianne has a particular interest in working with post-secondary students with disabilities to ensure their meaningful access to education

Courtney Joly-Lowdermilk

Courtney directs strategic initiatives at the Centre for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University which began in 2014 with the development of NITEO, a leave of absence program for young adult college students (18-24) from anywhere in the world.  She co-authored a landmark guide to support students taking health-promoting leaves and now directs programming to support the parents and caregivers of young adults who live with a mental health and/or substance use condition and have had an interruption to school

Karen Bower

Karen Bower is an American attorney representing students with mental illness in higher education disciplinary proceedings, claims for reinstatement after suspensions or involuntary leaves of absences, and in seeking accommodations. She's a co-author of the Ruderman Foundation's Mental Health in the Ivy League report, which set standards for involuntary leaves across the United States. She has worked for the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and is a member of the Jed Foundation's Board of Advisors.

Nkem Ogbonna

Nkem is a UofT B.Sc graduate and former student advocate, who worked primarily with student government, course unions, and queer spaces. After graduating, Nkem joined the SBA team to conduct an environmental scan of postsecondary mental health policies/practices nationwide and developed policy recommendations using an intersectional approach to disability. Nkem currently works with ASE Community Foundation for Black Canadians with Disabilities as well as conducts research at Women’s Health in Women’s Hands