[CAFR-L] Response...

Bryson Brown brown at uleth.ca
Sat Feb 16 08:31:52 MST 2008

On a slightly more personal level, I'm really not happy with the closing 
pablum about how conflict between faculty and administration is 
inevitable.  It's offensively patronizing, and completely beside the 
point.  The point is that this particular conflict is not only evitable, 
its course displays an alarming lack of regard for institutional values 
that are supposed to matter to both sides.  (Dan Johnson's case raises 
similar worries about the administration's commitment to fundamental 
institutional values.)


John Vokey wrote:
> Postings to this list are *Publicly Archived.*
> --------------------
> Effective response: it could be the next letter.
> On 15-Feb-08, at 12:26 AM, Daniel O'Donnell wrote:
>> Oh I agree: and therefore the VP's opinion is only of relevance to the
>> extent it agrees with mine/ours/the calendar's.
>> The point is that he has endorsed a position that is clearly at odds
>> with the raison d'etre AND sine qua non of this university as expressed
>> in its mission, mandate and statement of fundamental principles:
>> 1) sine qua non:
>>> The University asserts its right and responsibility for free
>>> expression and communication of ideas. It is self-evident that a
>>> university cannot function without complete autonomy in this
>>> domain" ("Mandate," University Calendar, p. 5).
>> 2) raison d'etre
>>> _We protect free inquiry and expression_. In keeping with the unique
>>> mandate of the university in society, the University of Lethbridge
>>> supports and protects artistic expression and the free and open
>>> scholarly discussion of issues, including those that are controversial
>>> ("Fundamental Principles," University Calendar, p. 7 [first principle;
>>> emphasis as in the original]).
>> If Andy can't explain the discrepancy between his endorsement of the
>> Dean's attempt to suppress a member of the University Community's
>> expression of a controversial though reasonable opinion and our
>> institution's unqualified commitment to the protection of such
>> expressions as indicated in its statement of Mandate, Mission, and
>> Principles, then we as members of the community have a duty (imposed
>> upon those of us who are faculty in part by the board via the handbook)
>> to take additional steps to ensure that the Mandate, Mission, and
>> Principles are respected.
>> Andy is now provost. As such he is responsible for ensuring that
>> appropriate conditions exist for the exercise of the University's
>> mission, mandate, and principles. The fact he tried to tell us that it
>> is in fact the faculty association that is responsible for this is an
>> embarrassment to the University and his office. Either he believes the
>> above statements in the calendar are true and is prepared to ensure they
>> are respected or he should resign. When you are provost, you can't hide
>> behind the labour lawyers on fundamental issues affecting your
>> institution.
>> In other words, it is time he grew up. And it is time we asked him to
>> show he has the guts to live up to the duties imposed upon him by his
>> position. You can't triangulate on core values.
>> -dan
>> On Thu, 2008-02-14 at 22:17 -0700, John Vokey wrote:
>>> As much as I think we need to respond, I don't think asking the
>>> Provost and VP Academic whether some behaviour conforms to what he
>>> *thinks* constitutes a constitutional right and the additional right
>>> of academic freedom is appropriate.  These rights are asserted, not a
>>> consequence of some nominal authorities' whim or personal opinion.  We
>>> could ask him to clarify what he thinks constitutes behaviour subject
>>> to article 28 of the handbook, and by what grounds he does so.  But,
>>> I, for one (or two, following Professor Robinson's exemplary
>>> resistance), assert my civil and academic rights---and they *do not*
>>> by any stretch exist by virtue of executive fiat.  Indeed, they exist
>>> precisely to challenge such fiats.
>>> On 12-Feb-08, at 2:13 PM, Dan O'Donnell wrote:
>>>> Postings to this list are *Publicly Archived.*
>>>> --------------------
>>>> I agree, Bryson. I think we take a couple of days to think about it:
>>>> but
>>>> then we take as an issue the question of whether academic freedom is
>>>> purely a personnel issue. The fact remains that we have been told that
>>>> publicly available documents have been anathematised by the dean of
>>>> arts
>>>> and science. Here are some public questions that have nothing to do
>>>> with
>>>> Tom:
>>>> 1) Can I cite them?
>>>> 2) Can I contribute to them?
>>>> 3) Can I publish an open letter to the Meliorist critical of the
>>>> administration?
>>>> 4) Can I refer students to the publications?
>>>> 5) How can I do all of the above and avoid a charge of gross
>>>> professional misconduct.
>>>> Andy has clearly spoken to a lawyer (as I've told some of you, my
>>>> first
>>>> response had I been in his situation, would have been to claim
>>>> copyright
>>>> of the letters and say that as far as I was concerned they weren't in
>>>> the public domain).
>>>> But his case isn't as straightforward as he thinks. He is trying a
>>>> "fruit of the poisoned tree" defence: we didn't release these, so we
>>>> can't talk about them, and you can't talk to us about them either. But
>>>> even if forget everything we have read, then the problem is worse:
>>>> there
>>>> are rumours that two existing publications are significantly
>>>> inappropriate to the point of putting your career in jeopardy. The
>>>> administration needs to explain the limits on free speech they are
>>>> establishing to the rest of us.
>>>> And that's not a handbook letter.
>>>> -dan
>>>> P.S. I disagree with Paul's view of our effectiveness: I'd say there
>>>> is
>>>> pretty strong evidence that GPM and the other things we have been
>>>> talking about are being handled now with a seriousness and urgency
>>>> that
>>>> has been missing on the part of both the Admin and ULFA until now. The
>>>> most effective letter we wrote is the one we didn't send to the dean;
>>>> and there is some evidence to suggest that its effect is still
>>>> spreading.
>>>> P.P.S. If anybody wants to see the letter, I have a copy as well. I'll
>>>> try to find a scanner and send it to the list later.
>>>> On Tue, 2008-02-12 at 11:58 -0700, Bryson Brown wrote:
>>>>> Postings to this list are *Publicly Archived.*
>>>>> --------------------
>>>>> Hi all--
>>>>> I (and I imagine many of the rest of us) now have a response from
>>>>> Andy.
>>>>> Unfortunately, though the tone is placating, the letter refuses to
>>>>> address the concerns we've raised in any substantive way, on
>>>>> grounds of
>>>>> privacy and of ULFA's exclusive role as representative of the
>>>>> faculty in
>>>>> such matters.  It seems to me that we should spend a little time
>>>>> discussing the response in a some detail, and then begin thinking
>>>>> about
>>>>> 'what next'?  I think the letter gives us a pretty good sense of what
>>>>> the response will be if we should raise further issues:  we can't
>>>>> answer
>>>>> your questions, and you should go to ULFA.  So one important question
>>>>> is, do we want to raise some other cases anyway as part of an
>>>>> attempt to
>>>>> press for a more serious response, or do we want to take some other
>>>>> kind
>>>>> of action in response?
>>>>> As to other actions we might take, pressing ULFA to raise these
>>>>> concerns
>>>>> directly and forcefully and working from within to change ULFA's
>>>>> approach is one-- but the abuse of GPM charges and similar over-
>>>>> reaches
>>>>> is so outrageous and provocative that I'd like to think seriously
>>>>> about
>>>>> more vigorous and immediate responses.
>>>>> Bryson
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> cafr-l mailing list
>>>>> cafr-l at uleth.ca
>>>>> http://listserv.uleth.ca/mailman/listinfo/cafr-l
>>>> -- 
>>>> Daniel Paul O'Donnell, PhD
>>>> Chair, Text Encoding Initiative <http://www.tei-c.org/>
>>>> Director, Digital Medievalist Project 
>>>> <http://www.digitalmedievalist.org/
>>>> Associate Professor and Chair of English
>>>> University of Lethbridge
>>>> Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
>>>> Vox: +1 403 329 2378
>>>> Fax: +1 403 382-7191
>>>> Homepage: http://people.uleth.ca/~daniel.odonnell/
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> cafr-l mailing list
>>>> cafr-l at uleth.ca
>>>> http://listserv.uleth.ca/mailman/listinfo/cafr-l
>> -- 
>> Daniel Paul O'Donnell, PhD
>> Department Chair and Associate Professor of English
>> Director, Digital Medievalist Project http://www.digitalmedievalist.org/
>> Chair, Text Encoding Initiative http://www.tei-c.org/
>> Department of English
>> University of Lethbridge
>> Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
>> Vox +1 403 329-2377
>> Fax +1 403 382-7191
>> Email: daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca
>> WWW: http://people.uleth.ca/~daniel.odonnell/
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