MTA cancels trauma-sensitive programming

January 12, 2024

Dear  Argosy Editors In-Chief,

The Mount Allison University Department of Student Affairs has recently pulled funding from the campus’ only Trauma-Sensitive Yoga therapy program, citing low registration and other factors (which were withheld). 

Sarah Elizabeth Smith, a local yoga instructor with over 13 years of teaching experience and extensive training in trauma-sensitive practice, has seen the interest in the Trauma-Sensitive Yoga program grow over the past three years with an increase in attendance in 2023. Smith signed a contract with the university in September 2023 to provide a total of 24 group sessions, free to attend for MTA students, staff, and faculty. The year-long program cost less than $2,000, a cost that was supposed to be covered by the Sexualized Violence Response Resource Fund.  

Smith requested further justification about why the program was cancelled but was denied additional information. Smith has written a letter to the University Interim President and the Board of Regents Chair, outlining her concern.

She writes:

“Since November 2020, Mount Allison has been under scrutiny for their harmful approach to sexualized violence issues, which led to an independent review of their policies by the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR, 2021). In the past several months, this scrutiny has intensified: not only for the university’s continued irresponsible handling of sexualized violence issues and racist events on campus, but also the mass resignation of staff members working in these areas.

All forms of oppression interact with one another. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, etc. are traumas that are regularly experienced on campus and in our community … The foundation of trauma-informed care is to provide consistent and predictable therapeutic support so that survivors can have the opportunity to rebuild relational trust, which is damaged by trauma.  

By offering and then canceling services for survivors, the university not only undermines its own commitment to survivor-centered and trauma-informed care as outlined in Policy 1006 and in their Sexualized Violence Policy Review (Dec, 2023), it also withdraws its support for those students who were attending and benefitting from the program. Mount Allison University has a responsibility to provide financial transparency and accountability. I am requesting that they provide clarification for why funds designated to support trauma survivors were withdrawn from a program that was doing just that.”

Share your feedback about the university’s decision to cancel this program: Contact Danai Belanger, Director of Student Experience: [email protected] and Anne Comfort, Vice President International and Student Affairs: [email protected], provide feedback through the Sexualized Violence Policy Review by February 12, or contact [email protected] for a copy of the letter sent to the Board of Regents Chair.

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