Allow STEPS Forward Students at UVic take part in convocation!
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UPDATE: UVIC IS the Inclusive and Welcoming School We All Want it to Be!!!
The main goal of this petition was to promote conversation and communication from the convocation committee regarding the status of the January 9th proposal, put forward by myself, STEPS and the Bodie family allowing STEPS students to participate in convocation starting this June. Well it worked! After a lot of attention, as many of you have seen on March 30th the University released a memo saying that they are putting forth a motion to the senate for hopeful ratification on April 7th.
In a meeting on April 4th Bruce Kilpatrick, UVIC’s Executive Director of Communication and Marketing, and Grace Wong Sneddon, Director of Academic Leadership Initiatives, informed me that UVIC was working on a motion to put forward to the senate for the March 20th deadline before this petition was started. It was an unfortunate communication breakdown in the convocation office that progress on this issue was not relayed to STEPS, Nathan or myself until it was released on the UVIC website on March 30th. I am very happy to hear that it was a communication block and that UVIC was putting effort and attention to this very important issue.
Bruce and Grace also let me know that our proposal is much stronger than the last official proposal, which was denied in 2010, and they are feeling extremely hopeful that the senate will ratify the motion on Friday. I feel that Nathan is very close to crossing that stage!!
Nathan Bodie is an autistic UVic student. He is Part of the STEPS Forward inclusive education program. He pays tuition, although his program is fine tuned to his individual needs, he does assignments and test like all students. At the end of his program he gets a completion certificate.
Nathan has autism and has struggled his entire life and even after recently having a kidney transplant he has finished his program in five years. In the Fall he went to his STEPS counselor and asked when his graduation ceremony was going to be. They informed him that UVic does not let STEPS Forward students take place in the graduation ceremony. He was crushed. This especially hurt Nathan because he has been studying social justice for the past five years.
UVic is the ONLY school in B.C, Alberta and Saskatchewan that doesn’t let their inclusive education program students take place in their graduation ceremony. This makes me especially angry because I’ve always taken a lot of pride in being part of an inclusive and progressive school.
After Nathan was rejected, him and his family went through many efforts for change, but nothing seemed to be working. So in January me, some of Nathan's professors and STEPS administrative members put together a proposition for change. We STILL don’t have an answer. ITS MARCH!
Nathan is not the first student for this to happen to, but since only one or two students graduate from this program a year it is easy for UVic to avoid dealing with this issue. We feel that the convocation (graduation) committee is dragging this out till either we give up or it is too late. I won’t let that happen! I want to watch Nathan proudly walk across that stage. He deserves it!
I’m hoping you will all sign it, not just to help Nathan and every future STEPS student walk across that stage but to help UVic become the progressive and inclusive school we all want it to be. Thank you!
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