New Brunswick

Nursing student accuses University of Moncton of discrimination

Second-year University of Moncton nursing student Brigid Stanford-Finnerty says faculty at the school are not accommodating her learning disability, and have threatened to kick her out of the program if she pursues a formal complaint.

Brigid Stanford-Finnerty says the University of Moncton isn't accommodating her learning disabilities

Brigid Stanford-Finnerty says she isn't receiving the accommodation she was promised for her learning disabilities at the University of Moncton. (CBC)

Second-year University of Moncton nursing student Brigid Stanford-Finnerty says faculty at the school are not accommodating her learning disability, and have threatened to kick her out of the program if she pursues a formal complaint.

"I learn differently because I have a disability and that doesn't mean I can't, it means I can, but in a different way."

This is my life; my life consists of nursing school, and that's it.- Brigid Stanford-Finnerty, student

Stanford-Finnerty said she has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which requires her to learn through repetition.

"I need to be able to physically master techniques with my hands and perhaps instead of doing something once, I need to do something maybe six, seven, eight, nine times."

In the theoretical classes, Stanford-Finnerty said she is given the extra time and accommodations needed to succeed, adding that she has good grades in those classes.

Seeks more time for clinical component

But near the end of her second year, she said she failed a clinical component of the program because she wasn't given sufficient time.

Without successfully completing that section of her degree, which sees students working out in the field in a daycare or in a nursing home, she can't continue the program. This means she will have to take a break from her nursing degree, and will have to wait until next summer to try again.

The university wouldn't comment on allegations that a student is facing discrimination in the nursing program, citing privacy reasons. (CBC)
Stanford-Finnerty said she's preparing an appeal, hoping to have the decisions reversed.

"I was advised that the university, the faculty, has no obligation to provide me with accommodation during my clinical shifts, which in fact I don't believe is true. I have the right to have extra time, as I do when I write my exams."

Stanford-Finnerty said her psychologist provided the recommendations from her psycho-educational assessment when she enrolled at the university.

"So, I find it is extremely discriminatory the fact that knowing this they refused it."

Standford-Finnerty said she took her concerns to administrators, but they were dismissive of her concerns. She said she was told if she pursued her complaint further, she would be removed from the nursing program. So, Stanford-Finnerty turned to the student federation (FEECUM).

Human rights complaint being considered

FEECUM president, Roxann Guerrette said this is not the first complaint she's received about the department.

"We have several cases each year. This is about the fourth case for this faculty specifically."

Roxann Guerrette, president of the University of Moncton's student federation, says the group receives more complaints about the nursing department than any other faculty. (CBC)
Guerrette said student complaints have been received about each department, but FEECUM receives more about the nursing department than any other.

While the university does have a policy in place to ensure students have rights, Guerrette said It doesn't go far enough.

"There is no structure in place to make sure that the student is not discriminated (against)."

Stanford-Finnerty agrees something needs to be done. She said she's willing to take this as far as she can, because what's happening to her isn't fair.

"I'm always petrified of being expelled, I never stop thinking about it. Because this is my life; my life consists of nursing school, and that's it."

She is exploring the possibility of a human rights complaint against the university, but she said all she really wants to come out of this is a fair shot at completing her program, and for the university to change its ways.

The university declined an interview, saying it will not comment on allegations by a student, citing privacy concerns.