Thank you to 1L DLS volunteers Arjun Gandhi and Sara Bolourchian for putting together these questions to assist students in understanding the University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy. The information contained here is taken from the University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy.
1. What is the University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy?
The University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy (“MLOA”) is a relatively new policy passed by the University of Toronto Governing Council on June 27, 2018. The policy creates a process through which the University can place a student on an involuntary leave of absence from the University. The policy is not intended to be disciplinary and is meant as a last resort in infrequent circumstances where the student is experiencing a mental health crisis or a similar issue and has declined to participate in any of the accommodative services made available to them, or where accommodations have not been successful.
2. Who is covered by the MLOA?
The MLOA applies to all part-time and full-time students at the University of Toronto including students with a valid student card who are in-between sessions.
3. Under what circumstances does the University consider the MLOA?
There are two scenarios where a student’s behaviour may trigger consideration for MLOA.
(1) The student poses a physical or psychological harm to themselves or to others.
(2)The student is unable to engage in the activities required to pursue an education at the University even after accommodations have been offered/pursued. (To be clear, this does not mean that being academically unsuccesful by itself triggers the policy)
4. How will I know if I am being considered for a MLOA?
The Student Case Manager (SCM) assigned to your case will notify you in writing that the Vice-Provost is considering whether you fall under the policy. You will be given an opportunity to discuss this with the SCM.
5. Who is the Student Case Manager (SCM)?
If the Vice-Provost is considering a MLOA, you will be assigned a SCM. The SCM acts as a liaison between you and the Vice-Provost, as well as with other staff engaged in exploring accommodations. The SCM also supports staff providing advice on terms and conditions of any leave.
6. I have asked for an accommodation which the university has refused and now they are considering me for a MLOA. Is that allowed?
The Vice Provost is not to place a student on a MLOA unless reasonable efforts have been made to enable the student to continue in their studies with accommodations and either those efforts have not been successful or the student has not participated or cooperated with the offered accommodations.
The SCM should explore accommodations as an alternative to the MLOA in consultation with you, the Vice-Provost, and the Student Support Team.
7. What is the Student Support Team?
The Student Support Team (SST) is a team of multi-disciplinary experts established by the Vice-Provost. The team may include student service representatives, registrar personnel, medical professionals, academic administrators, equity officers, campus safety personnel, and others. The team is supposed to assist in giving a nuanced and comprehensive analysis of the student’s needs.
8. Once I am notified that I am being considered for an MLAO what options do I have?
Just because you are being considered for a MLOA does not mean that you will be placed on one. If there are accommodations that would assist you that are not yet in place, these should be considered before any MLOA is imposed. As a result, you should make the SCM and SST aware of any potential accommodations that you may require.
Also, at any time during the process, you will be given the option of taking a voluntary leave of absence. The terms and conditions of the voluntary leave of absence will be recommended by the Vice-Provost after consultation with the SST and SCM. You may submit comments in response to the recommended terms and conditions.
9. How long does the leave last?
It depends. The duration of the leave is different in each case and will be determined by the Vice-Provost in consultation with the SCM, SST, and the student.
10. How does the leave of absence affect my finances (tuition, scholarships)?
It depends. Arrangements may be made for the reimbursement of tuition and for changes to the status of awards and scholarships. This is a matter that must be considered as part of the MLOA. Speak to your SCM and SST.
11. Will the MLOA affect me academically?
The MLOA will not be noted on your transcript. Where appropriate, academic credit will be awarded for any academic work or research already completed. This is a matter that must be considered as part of the MLOA. Speak to your SCM and SST.
12. Can I still be on campus after the leave has come into effect?
It depends. Terms and conditions of the MLOA may include a limitation to your access to university premises. You may also be required to temporarily cease your co-curricular involvements on campus while the leave is in effect. This is a matter that must be considered as part of the MLOA. Speak to your SCM and SST.
13. I live in student housing, what happens if I am placed on a MLOA?
It depends. Consideration must be given to a student’s housing situation where it could be affected by an MLOA. Where appropriate, terms and conditions of the MLOA may include relocating you to transitional housing. Speak to your SCM and SST.
14. Will my personal information be kept confidential?
Information regarding the process will remain strictly confidential. Any disclosure of your information should only occur if there are serious safety concerns, in which case, only the necessary officials should be notified.
15. What do I do if I don’t like the terms and conditions of the MLOA proposed by the Vice-Provost?
Terms and conditions are determined on a case by case basis and are supposed to address the specific behaviour and needs of the student. Prior to imposing the MLOA, the Vice Provost must provide the student with the circumstances giving rise to the decision to place a student on a MLOA, the process followed to arrive at the decision, and terms and conditions of the leave. The student will have an opportunity to provide other relevant information prior to any final decision.
In addition, you can speak to your SCM and SST to express your concerns before the MLOA is imposed.
If you are still not satisfied with the terms and conditions when they are imposed, you can request a review by the Provost.
16. I’ve been placed on MLOA, and I do not agree with it. What do I do?
Within 10 business days of the Vice-Provost’s decision to place you on a MLOA, you may submit a written request to the Provost to review the decision.
The Provost will respond in writing within 10 business days to this request.
17. What does a written request to review the Vice Provost Decision look like?
The letter should set out the reasons the MLOA should not be imposed and/or requested changes to the terms and conditions. Any supporting information should be included (ie. professor letter, medical notes). The tone of the letter should be respectful and it should be edited to be free of grammatical errors or typos.
18. I am over the 10 day time limit to apply for a review, what do I do?
The Provost may extend the time limit for you to request a review in certain circumstances. In your letter, include any extenuating circumstances that prevented you from requesting a review earlier.
19. The Provost agreed with the Vice Provost to impose a MLOA. What do I do now?
You can appeal the Provost’s decision to the University Tribunal. You must submit a written notice of appeal within 20 days of the Provost’s decision.
20. Will there be a hearing? Is the University Tribunal’s decision final?
Yes, the Senior Chair or Associate Chair will hear the appeal and their decision is final.
21. When my leave of absence is over, can I automatically return to the University?
When your voluntary or mandated leave of absence terminates, you must apply in writing to the Vice-Provost in order to return to your studies.
In addition, under the policy, the Vice-Provost has the discretion to request an external medical assessment before allowing a student’s return. The Vice-Provost can extend the leave of absence if they feel the terms and conditions of the MLOA have not sufficiently been met.
22. What does that letter requesting to return to studies at the University look like?
It depends on the initial reasons for the MLOA so every situation will be different. The letter could have updated medical information and/or an opinion from your treating health professional.
23. The University has requested medical documents and/or that I undergo expert assessments prior to my return. What do I do?
If the University requests medical documents or medical assessments, they will be responsible for reimbursing the costs. Any medical information given to the University will remain confidential. Any medical information requested should be related to the reasons underlying the leave. If you still feel uncomfortable with complying with the request, you can seek independent legal advice.
24. The Vice Provost has refused my return to University and extended my MLOA. What do I do?
You may have that decision reviewed and appealed using the same process as described in paragraphs 16–20.
25. I was placed on a MLOA without any prior notification or process. Is that allowed?
In cases where a student’s behaviour is violent or poses a serious threat, an urgent MLOA can be immediately invoked for up to five business days without following the standard procedure. Where this is the case, you still have the opportunity to respond. You can also request a review and appeal of this decision according to paragraphs 16-20.
26.Can I seek legal advice?
At any point during the process, you may seek independent legal advice.
27. Can I get help from Downtown Legal Services (DLS)?
If you are appealing the Provost’s decision to the University Tribunal, you can contact Downtown Legal Services (DLS) for legal advice and we may be able to represent you to the University Tribunal.
28.Do I have to pay for DLS services?
DLS’s services will be free of charge provided that you have not opted-out of these levied services.
29.How do I contact DLS to ask for assistance?
Call our intake line at 416-978-6447. Our trained students will confirm whether you are eligible for our services and you will be referred for an in person intake meeting to determine whether and/or how we can assist you.