academic freedom

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Dramatic violation of personal privacy at University of Ottawa raises concerns of student and faculty unions

UPDATE, 11:25, November 4: The University has publicly stated its support for the faculty member whose privacy was violated. It has so far found no misuse of campus email accounts and it states clearly its confidence in the qualifications and teaching abilities of the professor whose reputation was attacked. I applaud their public statement of support.

On Sunday, November 2, the Ottawa Citizen reported that a faculty member at the University of Ottawa was being targeted by an email campaign clearly intended to question her position on the faculty. The basis for the attack?

The claim that she was as a sex worker.

An anonymous source began circulating an email to the University community and the media last week that included photographs, personal information and transcripts from research interviews.

The violation of the faculty member's privacy is astonishing. To have circulated information with the intent to discredit her is awful enough. To have included hotel room confirmations with home address, linked to her professional name is unconscionable. To have revealed confidential research data - and how was that acquired? - is unethical and appalling. Read more below the fold

Elizabeth's picture

Academic Freedom, Free Speech and Due Process: What's really at stake at UNM

We have been following an interpersonal conflict at the University of New Mexico that centers on issues of due process, graduate student-faculty interaction, sexual freedom and the right of both students and faculty to private lives. (If you're new around here or you need to get caught up you can see all of our previous posts on the matter here.)

One of the things that made it difficult to appreciate all of the layers of the conflict was a lack of access to primary source documents. We have now received a copy of the March 10 letter from the Deputy Provost to those who had petitioned for a review, by the Faculty Senate Ethics and Advisory Committee, of the extramural activities of one of the professors. After carefully considering the content and implications of this we have determined that it is in the public interest to publish that letter here in its entirety. In doing so, we were aware that extracts had appeared in the media. (You can click here for a PDF of the scanned letter or click on the images below.)

When people have only partial information there is a tendency to fill in the blanks with rumor, speculation and misinformation. We are publishing this letter to ensure that people are aware of the facts relating to the two reviews undertaken by the university administration. We appreciate that a number of members of faculty remain deeply concerned about the acts they sought a review of, and we respect both their right to hold those views and to raise them under University policies on the reporting of suspected misconduct. Nevertheless this is the second review the University has conducted of this complaint, and absent new evidence, little can be gained and much lost by pursuing this line of action. As the letter states, the matter is now "concluded" from the Adminstration's point of view. The observations and conclusions reached by the Provost's Office are congruent with our own observations based on interviews of the people involved and the documents examined.

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