HLTH 102 professor takes leave of absence

Following controversy over HLTH 102 slides that some students say teach anti-vaccination theories, Melody Torcolacci has left the course, and a new professor will teach it for the rest of the year.

According to an email statement from Rosie Hales, a Queen’s communications officer, Torcolacci requested and was granted leave from the class for the rest of term.

“Discussions around her other classes are ongoing,” Hales added.

Queen’s student Michael Green tweeted screenshots of slides from her lectures last week, criticizing Torcolacci for correlating vaccines with increased prevalence of autism.

When the slides were reposted in a Storify made by former student Isabelle Duchaine, national media picked up the story, and it came to light that several students had complained about Torcolacci to the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies (SKHS) and the AMS Academic Affairs Commission throughout the past four years.

Provost Alan Harrison said he’d been tasked with investigating whether claims about Torcolacci’s teaching could be substantiated.

Sarah Lawrence, a student in the class, said the course’s new “coordinator” is Stevenson Fergus, who is SKHS’s Acting Associate Director and Graduate Coordinator.

Fergus will coordinate the overall delivery of the course, while SKHS faculty members will deliver lectures. The lectures won’t be based on Torcolacci’s syllabus; students were provided with a new, revised syllabus.

“I believe their lectures will be based on their specialties,” said Lawrence, ArtSci ’15.

Brendon Gurd will teach a lecture on physical activity and health; Steve Fischer will teach on occupational health; Jeffrey Masuda will teach a class on environmental health; Samantha King will teach a class on gender and health; and Elaine Power will teach a class on nutrition and food.

The exam format and test formats will remain the same, Lawrence said.


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