October 20, 2017
Dr. Jennifer Massey
Director of Student Life
Dear Dr. Massey,
SUBJECT: Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
The Executive Committee of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) would like to bring to your attention a number of concerns our members have brought forward regarding accommodations for students with disabilities.
MUNFA recognizes that Academic Staff Members are legally obliged to provide accommodations to students with disabilities, as reiterated in articles 26.27-26.29 of the MUN/MUNFA Collective Agreement. The MUNFA members who have contacted us want to offer appropriate accommodations, but are finding it difficult to do so in a timely and effective way because of issues they have encountered with communications from the Blundon Centre.
The main problems identified by our members are:
- Vague procedures outlined in the instructions on how to accommodate a student (e.g., “time-and-a-half required” without elaboration on whether the extra time is necessary for exams, assignments, etc.; “distraction free environment required” without specifying who is to provide this environment);
- Receiving a long list of accommodation provisions for a single student, some of which seem redundant in relation to others, with no way to agree to some but not all of the provisions; and
- A lack of timely responses to faculty seeking clarification on procedures outlined.
We recognize that there have been a number of recent changes at the Blundon Centre, including the introduction of the Clockwork system and the retirement of Ruth North. We also understand that Blundon Centre staff face ever-increasing workloads.
To reiterate: MUNFA fully recognizes the role of ASMs in providing accommodations for students who need them. On the other hand, it is the University’s responsibility to provide ASMs with timely and sufficiently detailed information on methods of accommodation, and to advise faculty members on questions or concerns regarding these.
Does the Blundon Centre have a plan to address these concerns, including problems with the working of the new Clockwork system, in order to better support all members of the University community, students and faculty? As these issues are ongoing and continue to affect our members, and the students seeking accommodation, we hope to hear from you soon.
Robin Whitaker, PhD
C: N. Golfman, Provost and Vice-President (Academic)
S. Cadigan, Associate Vice-President (Academic)
C. Reynolds, Deputy Provost (Students) and Associate Vice-President (Academic) (Undergraduate Studies)