Laurentian University Denies Film Students the Education They Paid For

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We are students enrolled in the Film Production program at Laurentian University, and we are asking for your support in demanding that we receive the education for which we are paying tuition.

In short, Laurentian has cancelled our required courses that are necessary for the completion of our degree, and laid off our entire faculty

Instead, we are now being offered so-called “equivalent” courses from other departments (and colleges), most of which are unrelated to filmmaking, with faculty members who are unqualified to instruct anything about filmmaking.

These drastic changes to our courses and faculty are so significant that they fundamentally change our program.

Below is our letter that we have sent to the Ontario Minister of Universities and Colleges, who has the authority to resolve this matter. By signing this petition you are demonstrating your support of the MPArts students sending this letter, and supporting us in demanding our education from LU.

Please sign our petition to support us in demanding that we receive the education for which we are paying tuition.

For more information visit our website: 

Letter Addressed to Minister of Colleges and Universities:

June 11, 2020

Hon. Ross Romano:

We, the undersigned, are writing to you in our capacity as students enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree Specialization in Motion Picture Arts (MPArts) program at Laurentian University (LU) in Greater Sudbury, Ontario.

Last April 30th, 2020, we received a group email from LU with the subject heading, “Closure of Theater and Motion Picture Arts: Message from the Dean of Arts”. In further correspondences with the Dean of Arts and other administrators at LU, numerous students in the MPArts program were told that they would not be allowed to complete their degree in MPArts, and that the Dean of Arts would “feel better” if we switched programs. Furthermore, we were informed that every faculty member in the MPArts program was laid off. At this news, we students were shocked and dismayed.

After many complaints about this from students in the MPArts program, the Dean of Arts then reversed her initial stance and now reassures us that while we will now be allowed to complete our degree in MPArts, we will unfortunately not be offered the appropriate courses, which consequently means we will not be taught by qualified instructors.

In a group email from the Dean of Arts, we were told that the courses that form the basis of the contract we entered into with LU have now been cancelled. Instead, LU is now telling us to take so-called course “equivalents” that come from not only other Departments at LU, but potentially from colleges as well. Please know that these proposed courses are, in fact, not “equivalents”, and most are not even related to filmmaking. Furthermore, none of the instructors in these other Departments at LU (let alone at colleges) are qualified to give our required courses. Please know that these drastic changes to our courses and faculty are so significant that they fundamentally change our program. This is not the education that we were guaranteed by LU, and for which we are paying tuition.

Please know that our BFA degree is unique because our curriculum is not theory-based, but practice-based. The majority of the courses in our curriculum must be given by instructors with both the required practice-based academic credentials (i.e., Master of  Fine Arts degree in Film Production) and the appropriate professional experience in commercial filmmaking. However, we no longer have any full-time faculty with this profile at LU to instruct us. Without any appropriate full-time faculty, we no longer have a voice at LU and now there is no qualified academic oversight for our program. In short, how can administrators and instructors at LU without the appropriate academic credentials and the appropriate professional experience be made responsible for properly administering our program? How this is not a significant concern to the President, the Provost, the Dean of Arts, and other administrators at LU is baffling.  We demand to know how they propose to rectify this serious matter.

Please know that we looked into the legality of these matters, and we now comprehend that what the Dean of Arts and other administrators at LU are doing to us — first, attempting to get us to switch programs, and now attempting to drastically alter the specific and unique practice-based courses with appropriately qualified instructors in our curriculum — goes completely against the policies of the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

We know that our MPArts program was approved by the Academic Planning Committee of Senate (ACAPLAN) at LU, and that the quality of its delivery must be overseen by the Provost to assure compliance with the Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP). However, due to the inappropriate words and actions regarding the misadministration of our MPArts program by the administrators at LU, notably the Dean of Arts, the Provost, and the President, the quality of our program delivery is no longer assured, and is presently not in compliance with the IQAP.

We need your help so that we can receive the proper education that we were guaranteed by LU, and for which we are paying tuition. We strongly feel that the words and actions of the President, Provost, the Dean of Arts and other administrators at LU have and continue to negate LU's contractual obligations to all of us enrolled into the MPArts program.

We look forward to settling this matter with you.

Thank you in advance for your time and kind consideration.