February 23, 2015

Vaccination KeystrokeKingston, Ontario — A professor at the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies (SKHS) at the Queen’s University in Ontario has allegedly been promoting anti-vaccination theories in her classes as early as 2011.

Current and former students at the university have shared lecture materials and slides allegedly used by SKHS professor Melody Torcolacci in her “HLTH 102 Physical Determinants of Health” classes that promote unfounded anti-vaccination theories.

Queen’s University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf has released a statement on the controversy Wednesday, and told that the situation was only brought to his attention on the same day.

But a former student at the university, Chao Gu, said that the school administration were already made aware of Torcolacci’s anti-vaccination lectures as early as 2011— when he himself filed a complaint.

According to Gu, his complaint regarding Torcolacci’s lectures were repeatedly played down and ignored by the school administration, despite evidences he presented before them. He told:

“All of them had stonewalled my issues, and [had] done nothing to help me. The claims that the administration was not aware of the issues are false and absurd.”

The students’ recent complaints on Torcolacci’s teachings were picked up by the media after slides from some of her lectures were reposted on Storify by Isabelle Duchaine, a former student at the university.

In a statement posted on the university’s website, Principal Woolf said:

“The university is committed to the academic freedom of our faculty members; at the same time, the university expects that faculty members will present intellectually rigorous research and course material and that they will present available scientific evidence objectively and declare their biases.”

Woolf said that he had already ordered school provost Alan Harrison to ‘look into the matter‘, and that the university had since launched an investigation. Harrison later on said that they are also investigating on whether similar complaints against Torcolacci have already been filed at the SKHS before.

Following the anti-vaccination allegations against Torcolacci, Journal reports that a communication officer from Queen’s University has confirmed that the controversial professor has already requested for leave from her HLTH 102 classes for the rest of the school term, and that the university administration has in fact granted this request— but if she is to remain teaching for her other classes is still currently being discussed by the administration.

Anti-vaccination theories— which claim that vaccines against diseases such as measles and polio can cause illnesses and disorders such as autism in children— have constantly been under fire ever since a measles epidemic broke out in the U.S.

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta

Sources:

Chloe Sobel on The Journal website: HLTH 102 professor takes leave of absence
Chloe Sobel on The Journal website: Admin aware of Torcolacci problems in 2011
CTV News website:  Queen’s investigating claims instructor promotes anti-vax theories (with video)

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