U of O Watch mission, in the words of Foucault...

"One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." -- Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

U of O Watch mission, in the words of Socrates...

"An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all." -- Socrates

video of president allan rock at work

Thursday, August 9, 2007

U of O President confirms that VP-Resources lied and falsified, and agrees

The UofOWatch entry of July 21st described a mean-spirited affair in which U of O’s VP-Resources Victor Simon lied and falsified a document in attempting to justify his illegitimate reprimands and threats to two students who had dared to express their views on an academic matter, using campus email lists.

The students next individually wrote to President Gilles Patry to complain and to ask for reparations (rescinding the threats, apologies, etc.).

In his answers, the President confirms that Simon lied since he confirms that Simon provided “all documents” (only one, which is not a complaint to Simon’s office) whereas Simon had claimed several (in the plural) complaints addressed to his office.

In his answers, the President states that Simon indeed removed a paragraph from a document (that the student was entitled to see in its entirety under the Freedom of Information Act of Ontario). The President confirms that Simon did this without informing the student. The President goes on to “explain” that this was justified because the paragraph in question was not something the university wanted to act upon…


The President put it this way: “The University did not consider taking any action regarding the final paragraph of the complainant’s email and it was on this basis that Mr. Simon did not include that information”.

The paragraph in question is highly incriminating for its author, Professor Vladimir Pestov, who suggests fabricating a case to remove student Jean-Paul Prévost from his PhD program of study, following the student’s first and only communication on an academic matter to a relevant academic unit email list. The paragraph in question de-legitimizes Pestov’s message and damages the credibility of his motives. Contrary to the President’s statement, it is entirely “relevant to the allegations concerning [your] misuse of University resources.”

The President concludes “I am satisfied that this matter was dealt with appropriately.”

The President also states to both students that he “has decided that the letter [Simon’s unfounded letters of reprimand and threat] is entirely appropriate and I will not take steps to retract it.” The President thereby goes on the record to condone and reinforce Simon’s original intimidation and harassment, and copies Simon to the entire exchange.

That’s how University Inc. (universities are legal corporations not answerable to the Ministry of Education) is run: By an unelected corporate executive that in practice answers to no one and that makes day to day self-preserving decisions about students’ lives without an oversight committee or an appeal process. There is no independent ombudsperson on campus and there is no policy that admits that the executives can mistreat students.

But it’s not over until the fat lady sings.

Epilogue: This means that, as it stands, both students are effectively barred from using the academic email lists for their legitimate committee work and collegial participation in university affairs, to the extent that their views will not be acceptable to the first enlightened academic who will scream “spam attack”.

Documents posted by student JP Prevost (in PDF, takes a few minutes to download)
Documents posted by student Severin Stojanovic (takes a few minutes to download)


[Photo credit: University of Ottawa]

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