Taped to the desk at the Athletic Centre (AC) was an email with Zack Nelson’s name highlighted and boxed. By his name, someone had scrawled, “ANGER ISSUES!”

The publicly viewable message made note of the AC’s suspension of Nelson, a second-year master’s student in East Asian studies.

Managers removed the note at the beginning of October after Nelson’s fiancée, Sangee Nahm, a third-year undergraduate English and visual studies student, reported it to managers.

Nahm said the note’s message resonated with her because of her mental disability.

“I was surprised that no other staff member pointed it out, that it was not appropriate to write something here, because it’s in the public view,” Nahm said, adding: “Even if [Nelson] gets his membership back, I’m not planning to go back there myself because I feel very unwelcomed at the Centre.”

“These days, anyone can take a picture. Anybody can disseminate that anywhere. That can be harmful to anybody’s reputation, especially if the allegations are not true, which they aren’t,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s suspension arises from several incidents he has had with a specific staff member at the AC. At first, Nelson was allegedly accused of giving personal and group training to friends, one of whom asked him for some advice on his form. Later that week, the staff member allegedly approached Nelson and asked him if he had a question because he was looking in her direction.

Eventually, an argument escalated between Nelson and the staff member, which resulted in his suspension according to Nelson. A letter mailed to Nelson’s as well as his parents’ homes cited Nelson’s disrespect and hostility towards the staff member.

“Let’s say I had a real personality problem. You don’t make fun of that… It could be any issue that a person has, and then to draw attention to it and draw attention to it negatively is just very disrespectful and it’s just outright bullying, and this is bullying done by U of T staff members,” said Nelson.

“The fact that the letter was put up in the first place, it just reminds you of a bad high school drama that you watch on TV; ‘Okay, we’re going to tape a letter to a guy’s locker and write something about him,’” Nelson said.

“When you post a letter, highlight someone’s name, and make an accusation on the basis of some mental disability, that doesn’t seem to be in line with Positive Space policy,” he added.

In a meeting with managers to resolve the situation, Nelson says he shared his side of the story, and Nahm also expressed her concern with how the AC handled the issue.

“I felt that [the managers] were very sympathetic to my side and were actually willing to make things better there,” Nelson said.

“The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education strives to always provide a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere for all students and members in our facilities in keeping with the university’s policies, guidelines and statements on equity, diversity and excellence. It is our goal that all users of our facilities feel that they can participate in our programming free of bias or discrimination, and are treated with dignity and respect,” said Sarah Baker, director of communications for the Faculty of Kinesiology.

Baker declined comment on specific elements of the incident, saying she was unable to “discuss the details with those not directly involved in the situation.”

Nelson — who began working out at the AC in 2006 — wants to retain his membership and work out at the venue again.

Nahm, who began working out at the Athletic Centre with Nelson last July, does not plan on returning.

“In general, a lot of people don’t treat others who have mental disabilities as they treat someone with physical disabilities, and they really shouldn’t make the decision based on what they see outside,” said Nahm.