A professor at Queen’s University is under fire from students who allege she teaches anti-vaccination information as fact in her classes, according to the student government.
In HLTH 102, Physical Determinants of Health, Melody Torcolacci teaches information about vaccines and health that has been widely refuted by medical experts but is presented as truth, students told the student government’s academic affairs commissioner.
“It’s clear to say the students are very, very upset,” said Colin Zarzour, the Alma Mater Society’s academic affairs commissioner.
Zarzour was alerted to the material on Tuesday, when he was approached by a residence don whose students were concerned about the material being taught in their class.
Since then, Zarzour has spoken with former and current students who also said the anti-vaccine material is taught in the class, he said.
The class is offered through the university’s department of kinesiology and health studies.
Zarzour said he spoke with the head of the university’s of kinesiology and health studies department on Tuesday. He was told they were aware of the issue and would have a “conversation” with Torcolacci, a continuing adjunct professor.
Torcolacci did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Star.
A spokesperson for Queen’s said the university is aware of the issue.
The course description for HLTH 102 states, “HLTH 102 looks at some of the many physical determinants of health beyond the obvious factors of physical activity, nutrition, and stress management.” The course summary says “vaccines and health” will be covered in the class.
Lecture slides sent to the Star and posted online, which appear to be from the class, ask the question, “Vaccines – Good or Bad?”
“No scientific evidence exists showing vaccines are NOT contributing to increased incidents of chronic illness and disability in children,” reads one slide.
Queen’s University Principal Daniel Woolf sent out two tweets responding to the controversy Wednesday.
“I am aware of the situation regarding HLTH 102 and have asked the provost to work with Arts and Science to gather more information,” he tweeted, which was followed up with, “Re: HLTH 102: I encourage people to be respectful and patient, and to reserve judgment until the facts are known.”
The news comes as Toronto experiences an outbreak of measles — with four cases confirmed and more expected.
Isabelle Duchaine, a former student and former student government academic affairs commissioner, said she received complaints from three students in the 2012/2013 school year about anti-vaccine material in Torcolacci’s classes.
She said she didn’t follow up on the issue but directed the students to speak to their department head — a decision she now regrets.
Duchaine said a current student in the class recently sent her the class slides. She called the material “pseudoscience.”
“It is a question about academic quality but it goes into other issues of public health as well,” she said.
Zarzour said he wants to see the course content undergo academic review.
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
There is a growing number of Nut Cases that are promoting the Anti-Vaccine
propaganda that falls in with the home schooling, paranoid minds of parents who
are not willing to follow expert medical advice.
It's a symptom of at least, a personality disorder, and reasons why vaccination needs legislation to prevent those who would risk children's lives for their own delusions that also threaten to create unnecessary epidemics.
Queens University is known for its extreme feminist propaganda, its promotion of hatred and violence towards Fathers, and now, equally revolting anti-vaccine propaganda that has no place in a University funded with tax dollars.
Ottawa Mens Centre