The acting president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has opened the door to reinstating a new and improved yoga class next year. Romeo Ahimakin said the program has not been cancelled, but is suspended while a review takes place to meet the “diverse and ever-changing needs of the student body.” In an email exchange Monday, Ahimakin would not comment on the controversy that has engulfed the student federation in the three days since yoga instructor Jennifer Scharf revealed that her U of O class had been cancelled because of concerns that it was not sufficiently sensitive to yoga’s cultural roots. Instead, Ahimakin stressed that the suspension of the yoga class is part of a broader program review by the Centre for Students with Disabilities, which sponsored the class. “The SFUO executive, as well as Centre for Students with Disabilities staff believe that it is important to look at the good and positive work that has been done and see how it can always be improved,” he wrote. “That is why we have taken this semester to do this review with a mind to reintroducing new programming in the winter semester.” The weekly yoga program had been offered since 2008 through the university’s Centre for Students with Disabilities and served about 60 students. Scharf even offered to rebrand the program as a “mindful stretching” class to distance it from any controversy over cultural appropriation, but that idea was rejected because a suitable French translation of the phrase could not be reached. A video on the Centre for Students with Disabilities’ website continues to highlight the yoga service. Also on the centre’s website is a description of its effort to create a safe space at the university. It highlights the complexity of the centre’s commitment to “challenge all forms of oppression.” “We also acknowledge that ableism is not a siloed issue, but one that affects a variety of communities and individuals.

In working to dismantle ableism, we also work to challenge all forms of oppression including, but not limited to,  heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, queerphobia, HIV-phobia, sex negativity, fatphobia, femmephobia, misogyny, transmisogyny, racism, classism, ableism, xenophobia, sexism, and linguistic discrimination.”

The student leaders’ decision to suspend the program has been covered by Britain’s Daily Mail and The Independent newspaper, and has led to a world-wide social media storm.

Let God speak into this madness:   “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.  For what can be know about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honour him as God or give thanks to thim, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.” – Romans 1

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