WATCH: The University of Victoria is reconsidering a policy that doesn’t allow STEPS Forward students to participate in graduation ceremonies. Ceilidh Millar reports.
Nathan Bodie and his friends count the signatures on their petition from classmates and staff at the University of Victoria.
For the past two weeks, they’ve been petitioning to change a policy that doesn’t allow students like Bodie, who has autism, to participate in convocation.
“He’s worked so hard for this,” said Julia Templeman, a friend of Bodie’s who spearheaded the petition. “He’s been here for five years and he deserves to have the recognition.”
Bodie is one of 29 students across the province who are enrolled in STEPS Forward, a post-secondary program for people with developmental disabilities.
Seven post-secondaries in B.C. take part, but UVic is the only school where students are not part of convocation.
Bodie’s been told the reason is because his courses are not for credit and go towards a certificate of completion.
Today, the University says they’re working to change the policy.
In a statement, the UVic Convocation Committee says they put forward a recommendation to the University Senate on March 20.
If approved by the senate on April 7, “STEPS Forward students who complete their studies will be able to participate in convocation ceremonies starting this June.”
“Its gratification and recognition,” said Bodie. “It just means so much to be right now.”
The UVic student’s petition has reached nearly 3,000 signatures online, but Templeman says they’ll keep fighting until the policy has changed.
“I’m going to keep my petition going until the answer is yes” explained Templeman.
Bodie wears his UVic sweater with pride knowing he, and his fellow classmates could be crossing the stage in June.
For now, he’s beyond grateful for the support he’s received.
“Thank you so much,” said Bodie. “You have been amazing.”