School of Journalism suspends admissions, concerns of toxic culture

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Reports of harassment and a toxic culture at the University of Regina's Journalism school. lee lim

Multiple incidents of harassment and malpractice reported

Disclaimer: The Carillon is pledged to avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest wherever and whenever possible. To uphold these values, certain members of the Carillon, namely news editor Gillian Massie and editor-in-chief Holly Funk, will not be involved with any part of the writing, editing, or producing of coverage on these topics, given their personal involvement in these matters.

Over the course of the last year, particularly the 2022 fall semester, concerns have circulated regarding a toxic learning and working environment in the School of Journalism (J-School) at the University of Regina. On December 12, the Carillon sent a letter to certain relevant parties requesting a response to allegations made against both students and faculty of targeted harassment, critiques of general culture, and specific incidents that cannot be disclosed due to the desired anonymity of certain involved parties. 

In response to the culture at the J-School, several students reported suffering mental health declines and some classes had extremely low attendance because students did not feel comfortable showing up for certain classes near the end of the winter 2022 semester. During the fall 2022 semester, a Journalism class had to be moved online, allegedly because a student raised their voice at the professor. Students have complained that requests for accommodations have often been ignored throughout the difficulties of these semesters.

On December 13, two courses offered by the J-School in the winter 2023 semester were cancelled due to the J-School having “received no suitable applicants to teach” the courses. Third- and fourth-year students set to graduate are now scrambling to fill the necessary credits.

On December 15, the Carillon received a response to the letter from the dean of arts, Shannon Dea, responding on behalf of both the J-School and the faculty of arts. The correspondence confirmed that the University of Regina, J-School, and faculty of arts are aware of certain concerns and are taking steps to address them with “appropriate seriousness.” Later that day, the J-School publicly announced they would be suspending student admissions for the 2023-2024 academic year. 

It was confirmed by multiple sources that the faculty of arts’ council passed a motion to suspend admissions to the J School. However, the faculty of arts’ council agenda and minutes can no longer be found online as of March 2012. The allegations of harassment and bullying in the J School were not mentioned in the statements made by the dean of arts to CBC and Regina Leader-Post

The reasoning given for the closure by the dean in an email to the Carillon is that “this ‘hiatus’ is intended to renew and redevelop the School and its programs. It also provides an opportunity to evaluate the School’s climate in order to ensure the J-School is a safe and supportive place to learn and to work.”

Some students have reported that they met with senior officials in the faculty of arts to discuss their experiences in the J School, which was confirmed in an email from the dean of arts, who clarified that the meetings were not an official investigation. The Carillon is aware of some students who were involved in the situation but were not invited to these meetings.

While the J School is the most recent faculty under scrutiny, a survey published by StatsCan in 2021 about faculty at post-secondary institutions reports that 34% of women and 22% of men reported harassment or bullying in the workplace. This is compared to only 19% of women and 13% of men in other types of workplaces across Canada, hinting that there may be a larger issue at universities than in the general populace. The StatsCan study about post-secondary faculty also stated that Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and sexual minorities were the most likely to face workplace harassment.

This is an ongoing story. Check the Carillon for updates.

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