The annual report for the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy (UMLAP) revealed that in the 2020–2021 academic year, the policy was used to put four students on mandated leave. This is an increase by three cases from the 2019–2020 year, when only one student was put on mandated leave.
Approved in 2018, the UMLAP is a controversial policy that allows the university to put students on a mandated leave without academic penalty if they exhibit dangerous behaviour toward themselves or others. Since it was originally implemented, it has continued to receive backlash and criticism both from members of the U of T community and from other groups such as the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
When the UMLAP was approved by the Governing Council in July 2018, the Council decided that the policy must be reviewed three years after its implementation. This review is still ongoing, though the initial recommendations are working their way to the Governing Council.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission recently sent a letter to U of T criticizing the policy, saying that it fails to meet the parameters of the Ontario Human Rights Code, among other criticisms. The university responded to these criticisms at a recent meeting of the University Affairs Board, claiming that the policy does adhere to the code.
“During the 2020–2021 academic year, the four cases that went forward under the Policy, involved significant concern for the student’s mental health and well-being and safety risks to others, resulting in a direct response from the University,” reads the report.
Since the policy was implemented, it has been used 11 times in total. As of July 1, 2021, five of the students who were put on mandated leave since the creation of the policy are still on leave. The report notes that two of the students who went on leave in the 2020–2021 school year have returned to their studies.
The policy includes “a full tuition refund for the courses the student was enrolled in, deferring exams, [and] late withdrawals without academic penalty.” The policy also requires the university to conduct continued risk assessments and an ongoing review of status and progress for every student on mandated leave by the vice-provost students and student support team.
Although many members of the U of T community have criticized the policy, the report notes that the policy “is to be considered in very rare situations where there is serious concerning behaviour.”