Some post-secondary professors have leaked their politics into their classrooms, opting to cancel classes to accommodate protest attendees.
In recent weeks hundreds of people have been involved in protests in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who are vetoing the installation of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline in what they claim as unceded territory in northern B.C. The demonstrations also call for more action from the provincial and federal governments in relation to reconciliation, and further investigations into missing and murdered Indigenous women.
While the causes are complex, a simpler question emerges from the large turnout of young people in the protests: why aren’t all these people in school?
At least one University of Victoria professor chose to accommodate “several” students hoping to attend this week’s demonstration at the B.C. Legislature by cancelling his class.
Political science assistant professor Simon Glezos sent out an email to his Poli 300C class that he would cancel class on Feb. 11 to accommodate protesters, causing significant changes to his class structure. The email was shared to Twitter by a student with the handle Ford Clapperton (@FordClap).
Hi I am student at UVIC here is an example of this happening at the school pic.twitter.com/90ToDdsCYY
— Ford Clapperton (@FordClap) February 11, 2020
“[B]ecause we’re already behind a class due to the snow day, I don’t think we’ll have time to get through all the material I wanted before the midterm,” Glezos wrote. “As such, I am rescheduling the midterm for our first class back from reading break.”
While some students would have been happy about this choice, others were vexed.
“I wonder, will UVic be offering students a refund for the class their staff decided to cancel?” responded Twitter user Brian Boyle Quon (@604BBQ).
Black Press Media reached out to Glezos directly about his decision, but did not receive a reply.
Other instructors, such as Environmental Studies sessional lecturer Nick Montgomery, simply brought class to the demonstrations instead.
Live from the legislature – @UVicENVI UVic Environmental Studies instructor Nick Montgomery teaches his class here instead of the classroom. Education in action, something I longed for when I was a student! Don't just study a movement, be it✊ #Wetsuweten #YouthforYintah #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/IVEiw8U3dP
— Anna Gerrard (@_AnnaGerrard) February 10, 2020
The University of Victoria told Black Press Media that under the correct circumstances, classes could be cancelled.
“The academic responsibilities of a faculty member include a combination of self-directed and assigned tasks in the areas of teaching, research and scholarly activity, and service to their department and faculty,” wrote Paul marc, associate manager of public affairs for UVic. “As per the Collective Agreement between UVic and the Faculty Association, faculty who plan to cancel classes are required to seek approval from the department chair or dean and make mutually acceptable arrangements to ensure required curriculum is covered.”
My son attends UVic. I just asked him and he confirmed that some classes did excuse students for the protest. None of his did (he wouldn't have gone anyway). It depended on the type of class.
— Laura (@Cat4714) February 12, 2020
Marck could not confirm whether Glezos received this approval. He also said UVic does not collect information on cancelled classes to estimate how many students missed class.
In stark contrast to the UVic protocol, Camosun College does not allow professors to cancel classes under these circumstances.
“The protocol at Camosun College is not to cancel classes. To the best of our knowledge, no classes were cancelled due to the recent protests,” wrote Rodney Porter, executive director of communications and marketing at Camosun College.
Hundreds of people turned out to an event titled “Shutdown the BC Government” on Friday, where people blocked more than 30 government buildings. It was unconfirmed whether more classes were cancelled on Friday to accommodate the event.