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Graduate Studies

Dean’s Task Force on Graduate Students with Disabilities— Meeting Minutes November 8, 2012

Barbara Crow, Chair, Dean’s Task Force on Graduate Students with Disabilities,
Sofia Kirschner, Student Affairs Officer, FGS,
Geoffry Reaume, GPD, Critical Disabilities Studies,
John McDermott, GPD, Biology,
Markus Reisenleitner, GPD, Humanities,
Kaley Roosen, Student Representative,
Tanya McFadyen, VP Gender, GSA

Opening Remarks:

Issues/Ideas Raised

  • Mental Health is marginalized regarding cure, treatment and risk. Students face structural barriers.
  • Many faculty members are aware of disability issues and sympathize with the students, but they often see this as a grey zone. We cannot just talk policies, as this is not always helpful, we have a huge responsibility to react, and don’t have the resources to turn to.
  • These issues need to be addressed and we need to assist in the awareness raising of these issues.
  • As a task force we want to work at this differently, we don’t want the stigma, we need a way to connect with the mental health strategies that are out there.
  • We want to raise awareness on issues of discrimination and stigma.
  • Want to see universal access to materials and resources, idea of a checklist for faculty.
  • Transcription services, available in short supply from the library.
  • Want to change the culture of Grad Studies, can do this by raising awareness—wider issues are the mental health issues.
  • Want to have (Vice-Provost, Students) Janet Morrison at the table to understand what is happening across the university.
  • Shifting the cultural practices takes advocacy, tools and awareness.
  • We need to inventory our policy guidelines and think hard about what we can achieve in the short- and long-term; 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and how to make these changes part of the institution.
  • Need more American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, major shortage in ASL interpretation availability.
  • There is an actual shortage of ASL interpreters: with such a shortage it is difficult to get ASL interpreters during key class hours. All GTA universities are facing this same challenge.
  • An additional challenge is that at the Grad level the ASL interpreters need to be able to translate at the PhD level.
  • Concern about access to some services, counselling services for example, can provide five to six months of services and then it gets cut off, the majority of Grad Students can be here for as long as six to seven years.
  • Some students do have access through medical benefits, up to $2,000, but only certain groups are covered by these benefits, example, only if working through CUPE.
  • Suggestion: a good goal for the first year would be to produce an official policy document on accommodating students with disabilities.

Additional Task Force members

  • We will be making the Task Force minutes/documents public and accessible on the FGS website.
  • Concern that if we get more than nine people on the task force it may become harder to get things done.
  • Another way to work is to utilize sub-committees.
  • It is important to have this discussion to determine our next steps; we need to be accountable.
  • We will extend an invitation to have a CUPE accessibility rep at the table, also want to see if Counselling and Disability Services (CDS) need to be at the table as well.

Items to examine

  1. Would like to see an inventory of the resources we have here at York.
  2. Look at the policy guidelines we have in FGS, and what we need to do.
  3. Work with GPDs on highlighting issues that students and faculty need to be aware of.

Next meetings

  • Desire to have regular and effective meetings; opt for monthly, preferably at the same date/time each month.
  • Barb will send out a list of meeting dates and times for the next few months [Barb Wells].
  • Invite Janet Morrison (Vice-Provost, Students) to a meeting of the Task Force to see what things are happening in student services regardin accessibility pan university [Barb Wells].