Emily Carr University of Art + Design becomes first B.C. postsecondary school to cancel classes for climate strike

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      The president of Emily Carr University of Art + Design calls the climate crisis "a defining issue of our time".

      "We know that many of you care deeply about this global priority and have taken action in your daily lives," Gillian Siddall declared in a statement on the university's website. "Some of you have created work that engages with pressing environmental concerns, or have produced research that tackles questions about the future of our planet."

      In acknowledgement of the importance of this issue for the campus community, Siddall has announced that classes will be cancelled after 12 p.m. on Friday (September 27).

      This will enable staff and students to participate in the global climate strike.

      A giant rally and march will begin at 1 p.m. at Vancouver City Hall.

      Staff at the university are required to notify supervisors in advance if they don't want to be counted as absent.

      "Faculty leading off-campus curriculum may cancel activities at their discretion," Siddall said. "We ask that they inform students of their decision and accommodate those who attend the strike.

      "The university is also committed to the integrity of the pedagogical environment. We suggest that faculty work with students to ensure the curriculum is not disadvantaged."

      The decision came following consultations with the faculty association, CUPE Local 15, and the students' union.

      According to Siddall, Emily Carr University of Art + Design campus will stay open so that events like the Radical Research Summit can continue as scheduled.

      Emily Carr University of Art + Design staff who don't participate in the climate strike on Friday (September 27) are expected to continue with their usual duties.

      UBC and SFU don't plan on cancelling classes

      Siddall's announcement came on the same day that Swedish climate activist delivered a devastating speech at a UN Climate Action conference in New York City.

      "You are failing us," Thunberg told the adults in attendance, "but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you.

      "And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you."

      Meanwhile, UBC president Santa Ono and UBC vice president Ainsley Carry have not announced the closure of classes for the global climate strike unless it's "consistent with academic principles".

      "While we recognize the importance of climate justice and the critical need to tackle climate change, it is also important the university remain open to ensure continuance of the academic mission," they said in a statement on the UBC website.

      "We encourage students who plan to participate in this action to discuss it with their instructors to see whether arrangements can be made to receive missed course content or to make-up missed exams, quizzes, or other assignments," Ono and Carry continued. "Students should be familiar with the guidance that may be provided in their course syllabi."

      They added that students can apply for an academic concession.

      "Faculty members and academic departments may elect to support the climate strike in ways consistent with their academic principles, which may mean making the decision to cancel classes," they stated. "In such cases, we hope that faculty will inform students in their classes in advance of the reason for the action. If staff wish to participate in the strike and rally, they may request leave such as time off without pay or vacation time from their supervisor."

      SFU president Andrew Petter has also issued a statement encouraging faculty members and academic units "to make accommodations for those who wish to engage in Strike activities".

      "Students who plan to take part in the climate strike should speak with their instructors about options that would allow them to make-up missed course work or other assignments/quizzes or exams that may be scheduled during that time," Petter said. "Faculty members and academic departments are encouraged to facilitate climate strike participation by working with students to provide alternative arrangements for class attendance or by cancelling classes if such participation aligns with the academic principles of the program."

      SFU staff wishing to participate will have to speak to supervisors about using unpaid vacation time or taking unpaid leave.