School of Kinesiology co-op announces possible delay in summer work terms amid program reform

Fewer students will be able to complete co-op work terms in the School of Kinesiology as the school undergoes organizational restructuring, according to an email sent out by administrators.

On January 28, Dr. Paul Kennedy, the school’s associate director of undergraduate affairs, announced that reforms surrounding resource prioritization and long-term sustainability planning within the kinesiology co-op program would reduce the number of students the program can support, as well as the timing of future work terms.

Simone Longpre and Leah Meanwell, the kinesiology co-op coordinator and program assistant, have also been let go as a result of these reforms.

In the email, Kennedy apologized for the sudden changes, but wrote that he would work with other members at the school to complete these reforms in a timely manner. A specific timeline for these reforms was not provided.

In a written statement emailed to The Ubyssey, Dr. Robert Boushel, the director of the school, attributed the decision to a year-long organizational review that highlighted the need to reorganize certain programs to better align with the faculty’s strategic plan to enhance research and teaching excellence.

“While changes to the Co-op Program are still in process, I can share that the program will be more closely integrated with our academic curricular programs and will involve faculty oversight and mentorship,” his statement read.

Boushel emphasized that the kinesiology co-op program was not cancelled, but acknowledged that the overall number of work placements will be reduced.

Priority will be given to upper-year students to ensure they receive work experience before graduation, while those who were recently accepted to the program will have a meeting in “the near future” to discuss the timing and availability of co-op placements.

“We will continue to keep our community updated on these changes in the coming months. Detailed information for Co-op students regarding changes going forward will soon be posted on the School of Kinesiology website here,” Boushel wrote.

In an email sent on February 8, Kennedy announced that only those who need to complete one more work term will be assigned co-op placements in 2021.

The 50 recently admitted students will need to reapply to the program at a later date, but their applications will be prioritized over new applicants.

Karlo Perovic, a second-year student who was recently admitted to the kinesiology co-op program, was surprised by the announcement, but said he had a feeling something had changed when he did not receive a Zoom link for a meeting with his coordinator.

“I contacted them. No response. They said to contact someone else. And then I got an email saying that there's been changes,” he said.

Perovic also noted that there had been no job postings on the kinesiology co-op website prior to Kennedy’s email.

“I thought it was a little bit strange, even with COVID and all that. But, I was thinking of applying to other places that I know of … And then I find out that I can't work this summer at all because of the changes.”

Students can still apply to jobs and internships, however they may not be able to receive co-op credit.

Ritika Saraswat, an upper-year kinesiology co-op student, also suspected that something was happening in the co-op office.

She had stopped receiving replies from Longpre and Meanwell in the beginning of January, and Longpre had stopped showing up to the Kinesiology Co-op Student Advisory Council (KCSAC) meetings.

“I thought that there was definitely something fishy about it … I just kind of assumed that there was something going on, but I did not know specifically there was this.”

Saraswat said that KCSAC had not yet discussed Kennedy’s email, but that they were still planning to host an employer event that was originally in partnership with the kinesiology co-op office.

“We will host that event, just a small event from our side. Just to kind of help the co-op students out, because I know [fulfilling requirements] will be difficult, especially with no jobs.”