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The Centre for Students with Disabilities’ yoga program has returned after controversial suspension. Photo: CC lululemon athletica.

Changes following review period include new instructor, location

A yoga program put on by the Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD), and the centre of a social media firestorm in November of 2015, has returned to campus after being suspended last semester.

The program’s suspension garnered extensive media backlash, getting coverage in the U.S., Britain, and Australia, after its former instructor, Jennifer Scharf, said that the program was suspended over concerns of cultural appropriation.

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) and CSD deny this, saying that the program was suspended as part of a general review process to improve it. The program has since started up again on Jan. 26.

Jennifer Scharf, the previous teacher, will not return. “I’m over the whole thing,” said Scharf. “I was already involved in some other things before.” She did briefly returned to U of O to teach a yoga class as part of Wellness Week at the Telfer School of Management in January.

The newly hired teacher of the class is Priya Shah, who, according to the CSD’s press release, had been recommended by the centre’s users. Shah told the CBC that she hadn’t heard of the controversy surrounding the program when she took the job, and did not respond to the Fulcrum’s request for comment by the time of publication.

In response to press inquiries, the SFUO consistently maintained that the program would return in the winter semester.

“The Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD) is excited to offer its new, modified yoga program for the Winter 2016 session, following a period of consultation and review,” the CSD wrote in a press release.

In addition to a change in personnel, the location of the class has been moved from from Montpetit Dance Studio to the UCU Terminus, because it’s more spacious.

In its release, the CSD said that it would be continuing a “consultation practice” with its users.

“The CSD believes that with these changes, determined through consultations with service users as well as various yoga providers it can better account for accessibility needs of students on this campus, and it is using SFUO budgetary resources more responsibly and efficiently.”