The Transitional Year Program is under attack
The Transitional Year Program (TYP) is a full-time, eight-month access-to-University program. It is intended to be used by adults who do not have the formal qualifications for university admission. According to program founder Keren Braithwaite, “from the beginning, the barriers of social class, race, gender, and other inequities have been the motivations of TYP, which took these barriers into consideration in its recruitment, admissions, and outreach as it sought to open the university to a limited group of students who were under-represented in it.”
The conception and actualization of the program began with students who believed that there were disruptions in students’ education occurring in society due to a white-supremacist ideology that was assimilating, killing, and ripping apart communities it viewed as inferior.
This ideology was preventing potential students from attending school, while universities such as the University of Toronto were reluctantly listening to—as program official Dr. Jack Wayne put it—“student-initiated new beginnings, such as TYP, which have always been undertaken based on the critique of the old ways of doing things.” The fresh perspectives of these students allowed marginalized students—the collateral damage of imperialism—to become accepted into university.
Unfortunately the University has been a slow learner, and has undermined TYP as often as it could, as reported in 2012 by Justin Panos in Rabble News. Panos writes that when TYP resisted “...immediately two faculty members were cut. Misak then asked TYP to reconsider. They refused. The Provost then doubled-down, flatlined the budget and stated that the five part-time faculty at TYP would be axed for the upcoming 2013-14 year (over half the current faculty).”
As Keren Braithwait argued, these latest attacks on TYP go against the recommendations of a report “by the late Father John Kelly of St. Michael's College in 1977 which led to the restructuring and strengthening of TYP, which allowed for the space and dignity to come into its own as a significant university program that is now recognized for its pioneering work.”
The University's actions have continued to disrupt the few students who are allowed entrance to the program. However, thanks to the dedication of the faculty, staff, and—as well as the students themselves TYP—has remained a successful access program with a success rate above 70 per cent.
So what could be the reason for the constant attacks on this much loved and appreciated program?
Last year, according to a colleague of ours who does not wish to be identified, Provost Cheryl Misak’s argument was that the students cost too much, so she flatlined the program’s budget and implied that the faculty were lazy. As asserted in Keren Braithwait’s book, Access and Equity, “the inferior status accorded to the faculty of TYP by the university attest to the fact that after thirty years there are still many battles to be fought in relation to access and equity at the University of Toronto.”
Provost Cheryl Misak would continue to reshape the battle into a forty year attack, however, with rationalizations that would maintain the oppression of all those associated with the program. This attack would exclude TYP from benefiting from the “Boundless Campaign” initiated by the University of Toronto, which states that “we can offer the world powerful insights into the roots of successful societies and frameworks that advance prosperity, human rights, democracy, pluralism and good governance.” Those words have gained the University over a billion dollars, while denying TYP, which is mentioned as an initiative, any funding (though TYP is promised that it will be rewarded if it does assimilate).
This is a disgrace and an outrage, which the Transitional Year Program Preservation Alliance (TYPPA) challenges by asking the University to walk their talk on human rights, democracy, and good governance.
Instead, the University hides behind provosts who make sure that certain members of the University community, the members TYP supports, are excluded from those frameworks.
The TYPPA also asks that UofT’s community become better informed about TYP, which is losing its current location at 49 St. George Street. TYP is being moved to a new location, the basement of Woodsworth College, which houses the Academic Bridging Program and caters to different student needs.
The Academic Bridging Program (ABP) is a relatively unsuccessful program that has borrowed from TYP in the hopes of becoming more successful. The University is pouring substantial monetary resources into the ABP, which has less than a 40 per cent success rate. The ABP even attested to its own failure—to offer the same support and mentoring that TYP students receive—at the town hall on November 18, 2013.
So why would the University force the assimilation of TYP into a program that has never had the success that TYP has? This is a question that only our new Provost Cheryl Regehr can answer and we want to know the answer, especially considering that the proposed building has asbestos, mold, and is not wheelchair accessible (with the exception of the first floor).
The new space is also smaller than the one TYP currently occupies, while Woodsworth will keep their original building and will have the top floor of the new building to enjoy. This means that TYP will not be able to grow. This means that all faculty will not have a private space to consult with students who need confidentiality in the beginning of their transition into university. This means that by flatlining the budget, which the current provost plans to continue to do in spite of research that states TYP needs its autonomy, she is continuing the ultimatum of “assimilate or die” which we all have heard before and need to say “hell no!” too.
If you would like to get involved or learn more about TYP and the TYPPA, here is how you can!
Facebook: The Transitional Year Programme Preservation Alliance
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