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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Report on racism at the School of Nursing - today's press conference and Michaelle Jean

[April 29, 2011, press conference participants]

The Centre for Equity and Human Rights (CEHR) of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) held its press conference about the racism in the U of O School of Nursing today.

The CEHR has received twenty racism discrimination complaints from students in the School of Nursing since 2009.

The press conference testimonies by two plaintiffs were detailed and disturbing.

There can be no doubt that Nursing has an urgent and widespread racism problem that has been disregarded for years by the university administration.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs Yavar Hameed stressed that the problem was not only from bad management but was also systemic, pointing to a lack of internal structures to solve and correct racism problems.

Unlike previous press conferences at the University of Ottawa, the university communication staff and legal counsel were nowhere to be seen on the floor. Instead, they have installed a new electronic lock on their main door and called the media behind closed doors for private conferences.

The presenters avoided naming the six university staff complained against in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario complaints but Student Appeal Centre director Mireille Gervais had the following statements for UofOWatch.

"[Professor] Isabelle Cyr is a problem regarding differential treatment of Nursing students based on the colour of their skin."

"Kirsten Woolend, ex-director of the School of Nursing, acknowledged in 2008 -- at a meeting with me, CEHR director Francine Page, SFUO VP-University Seamus Wolfe, vice-dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Francis Reardon, and School of Nursing administrator of undergraduate programs Joanne Larose-Dubois -- that the School of Nursing had received many complaints about Isabelle Cyr."

"It is a widely known fact that Isabelle Cyr once physically shook [assaulted] a black Nursing student."

As the event was closing, former Governor General Michaelle Jean, who now has her UNESCO office beside university president Allan Rock's office, happened by accident to walk by and stopped to chat with some of the plaintiffs. Jean inquired why they were in Tabaret Hall. After some explanation Jean asked CEHR director Francine Page to send her all the documents so she can prepare for a possible informal chat with Rock. Maybe Rock will listen to Jean? He hasn't listened to anyone else.

Rancourt case goes to binding arbitration on Monday May 2nd

The Allan Rock administration of the University of Ottawa fired tenured physics professor of 23 years Denis Rancourt in 2009. (LINK)

The dismissal is a major academic freedom case in Canada and is being investigated by an Independent Committee of Inquiry (ICOI) of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

The conflict has been covered in the national (Globe and Mail, National Post, Macleans), international (New York Times) and regional media: LINK.

The University has only now accepted scheduling a binding arbitration process, following an unfair labour practice complaint by Rancourt to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The latter OLRB action and its outcome are fully disclosed by Rancourt HERE.

The first hearing day (full day) will be Monday May 2nd (9:30 am, 130 Albert Street, Varette Board Room, Level B1).
Arbitrator: Claude H. Foisy (based in Montreal)
Union Lead Lawyer: Sean McGee, of Nelligan O'Brian Payne LLP
University Lead lawyer: Lynn Harnden, of Emond Harnden LLP
Grievor: Denis G. Rancourt

Fifteen days of hearings are foreseen, extending into 2012. The hearings are expected to be open to the public and the media.

The hearing will likely be an intense battle and it is believed that the university's first priority is that the grievor never be allowed to be reinstated.

There is a clear and unanimous commitment from the union (APUO) for Rancourt to be reinstated.

Rancourt's position is that the dismissal was unjustified, that the grading question was used as a pretext for the dismissal and that there is evidence of employer bad faith.

Rancourt will be the main witness on the union side.

For more information please contact the chair of Rancourt's support committee Professor Claude Lamontagne at claude.cde (at) gmail.com. Extensive background information is provided HERE.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

U of O vicious union busting against its part-time professors -- "Canada's university" in action

The Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) is publicly denouncing what it sees as unfair and damaging labour practices in the form of the university administration's union busting approach to negotiations.

The APTPUO teaches almost 60% of all courses at the institution and is the lowest paid university employee group, with no job security. Its members are routinely terminated ("not renewed") without cause.

The APTPUO has put out this press release today:

Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa*
85 University Street, suite 124
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 ext. 4375 | www.twitter.com/aptpuo

Rocky Road Ahead for Canada's University's Part-Time Professors

Ottawa, 26 April 2011 - The University of Ottawa is not fulfilling its requirement to bargain with its part-time professors. This group represented by the Association of Part-Time Professors at the University of Ottawa (APTPUO*) teaches almost 60% of the courses offered at this institution. The Employer wants to deny the right to union representation to certain professors, and categorically refuses to bargain any other issue. It has put a halt to the ongoing conciliation process, to the astonishment of the APTPUO.

Pushed against the wall with the Employer in a legal position to lock them out in early May 2011, the APTPUO held a strike vote on April 20th and April 21st. Part-Time Professors voted 97,6% in favour of a strike, in the event the impasse persists. This demonstrates a strong level of support for their union and its elected Bargaining Committee.

"The Employer wants to do everything it wants and be accountable to nobody, said Greer Knox, President of the APTPUO. It never wanted to bargain constructively and it bargained in bad faith. The University has not demonstrated an interest in the impact these issues have on our students and the whole community. The strong support of our members sends a clear signal to the Employer that it must return to the bargaining table."

Several unions at the University of Ottawa support the part-time professors in their efforts to get a fair deal, including the Full-time professors union (APUO), the Student academic workers' union (CUPE 2626), and the Support staff union (SSUO).
The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) and the Graduate Student Association (GSAED), have also voiced their support to the APTPUO and are concerned about the aggressive attitude the University has demonstrated in this round of negotiations.

* The APTPUO is the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa. It represents approximately 1500 members teaching approximately 60% of the courses offered at the University of Ottawa. Some 3000 courses are taught each year by part-time professors.

For further information
Greer Knox
President, APTPUO

The APTPUO has also made this April 28th appeal for support:

Dear friends, students, fellow employees, labour activists and members of the community,

The Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) is concerned about the way that the University of Ottawa's Bargaining Team has been conducting negotiations; it appears to be nothing short of bullying, threats of union busting and bad faith!

On April 11th 2011, the University of Ottawa Bargaining Team walked away from the government-led conciliation process and instructed the Ontario Ministry of Labour to issue a “No Board” report – which means that by early May 2011, the University will be in a legal position to lock us out and the APTPUO will be in a legal position to strike.

Since first meeting on March 5, 2010, the Employer has rejected all submissions made by the APTPUO. The Employer would discuss only one issue, which is that APTPUO professors who teach non-credit courses in the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute and the Faculty of Education be unilaterally excluded from the Union, thus losing all salary, benefits, and seniority provisions of the APTPUO Collective Agreement – or, that we accept a pay DECREASE of 66% for these members. This is not bargaining!

We are asking you to support the APTPUO by sending a message to the University of Ottawa Board of Governors and their Bargaining Team in order to force the University back to the bargaining table to address our demands for improvements in salary, job security, and working conditions so that we may continue to provide the highest quality of education on our campus.

For the latest information on negotiations, informational tools, ways to get involved and our latest Press releases, visit our new website: www.FairDealAPTPUO.com.

In solidarity,

APTPUO Bargaining Committee and Board of Directors


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rampant racism at the U of O School of Nursing::: Press conference announced

The Centre for Equity and Human Rights (CEHR) of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has announced that it will hold a press conference about the racism in the U of O School of Nursing:

Friday April 29, 2011
11 AM
Entrance rotunda, Tabaret Hall
550 Cumberland

Former School of Nursing students Anne Mpinda and Victor Ndayishimiye have each filed detailed human rights complaints with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) against six teaching and administrative staff members at the school. They are represented by human rights lawyer Yavar Hameed.

The HRTO complaints are about racial discrimination and allege systemic discrimination, reprisals and intimidation; not unlike the recent high-profile cases in the U of O Faculty of Medicine, HERE.

The CEHR also confirms that it has received no less than twenty such similar reports from students in the School of Nursing since the fall of 2009.

The director of the CEHR, Francine Page, had sounded the alarm in 2007 and followed this with an expert report to the University in February 2010. Page was disturbed to find her concerns and report effectively ignored by the University of Ottawa, under its president Allan Rock administration.

The University propaganda touts Rock as a "defender of human rights" "putting the University at the service of the world". It would be better to put itself at the service of its students, especially those being discriminated against.

The CEHR press release comes only weeks after Allan Rock's university senate brazenly repudiated a motion to reaffirm its commitment to a discrimination-free academic environment, in an effort to prevent exactly these types of problems, HERE.

Needless to say, the Student Appeal Centre's (SAC) 2008 public report about systemic racism at the University of Ottawa, that the Rock administration took great pains to deny and defame (HERE), now echos loudly in the hollow halls of this racist institution.

On his next mission abroad, Rock could save a lot of folks a lot of pain by plainly stating: "If you're black or brown avoid applying." Or, he could start actually standing for human rights by ordering immediate reparations where reparations are due rather than fight lengthy and costly denials of the obvious -- as the University shamefully continues to do.

Update: Senate member Joseph Hickey is following up with university senate, HERE. The University of Ottawa ("Canada's university" in its propaganda) is rather unique in Canada for not having a policy against harassment and discrimination. This absence of protection has repeatedly been denounced by the SEHR and SAC of the SFUO.

Friday, April 22, 2011

U of O Faculty of Education professors speak out to defend their dean

The dean of the Faculty of Education, Marie Josee Berger, has -- in terms of her treatment of students -- been judged the most ruthless administrator at the University of Ottawa, HERE.

Member of the university senate Joseph Hickey has reported the reactions of some professors in the Faculty of Education, HERE.

The following professors have spoken out in defense of Berger, with strong words against Hickey's attempt to use collegial governance to mitigate the possible damage to academic integrity. (LINK)

Bernie Andrews

Richard Maclure

Sharon Cook

Stéphane Lévesque

Claire Maltais

This is reassuring because we might expect that these professors would also stand just as firmly and from the same principled perspective regarding any injustices to graduate and undergraduate students? We welcome evidence to that effect.

Seriously, how are the reactionary yelps of the above professors compatible with even the publicly known face of dean Marie Josee Berger, reported in the media in 2007 HERE?

Former professor Steve E. Noble on the U of O presidency of Allan Rock

[Photo (uOttawa.ca) : Breakfast speaker Allan Rock "Canada’s University in the service of the world"]

Dr. Steve E. Noble, an expert in the global justice area of education, has recently provided his assessment of University of Ottawa president Allan Rock (LINK)*:

"The problem with Rock as president of the University of Ottawa are several.

First, he's being paid way too much. He's being paid more than the Prime Minister of Canada and about the same as the President of the United States.

Second, the University of Ottawa is, at best, a second ranked university (more comfortably sitting in the third tier of universities in this country); his salary should reflect that.

Third, he comes from outside academia. Most universities around the world select their presidents from within academia given that professors have a solid understanding of how universities work and the norms and culture that stems from the learning/teaching relationship. Rock simply does not.

There is a move afoot among universities to turn academia into corporations with a heavy managerialist approach whereby the teaching/learning relationship becomes thrown out for some research money measuring success approach.

Watching the Senate videos and it becomes clear that Rock has no understanding of how board meetings operate either. He makes the rules up as he goes along and whichever variation puts him in complete control is the one he goes with in that moment.

Rock is a lawyer and he will work from what he knows best -lawyers are about adversarial relationships and winning at all costs. A natural extension being their ego. And Rock is all about his ego.

Oh, I know when he was first hired we all held out great promise that because the story went that he was a student radical of the SFUO and apparently driving John Lennon around Ottawa makes him some sort of hip, anarchist, militant, student sensitive administrator. Rock is such a devotee of the establishment system that he demands everyone else fall in line.

Watch the Senate videos and you'll see the Senate behave like lemmings. Most inspiring, though, is the exception of Senator Hickey, the lone, elected graduate student challenging the senate and Rock repeatedly. He reminds me that not only do people like Rock, with their positional power and authority, feel it's their right to take away the individual agency and power of others (but individuals giving up their own power is also a key source of bullies' power).

Fourth, he's just not doing what he says he is going to do. Since arriving at the University of Ottawa the low student satisfaction ratings have slowly fallen to something approaching absolute lowest rating with regard to student satisfaction - IN THE COUNTRY!

Fifth, there is his approach to faculty and students that is simply appalling. I've listened to him at a General Assembly speak about part time and contract faculty (by far the majority of teaching staff in the university) as a necessary evil.

The Dean of the Faculty of Education also views contract and part time faculty as second classed employees. This group of faculty has as few protections as students. That works well for Rock - divide and conquer, while making up the rules as he goes along. And Rock expects (and encourages) Deans to behave as bullies. I've heard an associate dean describe how Deans rule their faculties like fiefdoms and the students and faculty within them are like their serfs.

The overarching feeling is that if students - and faculty - behave in subservient, group-thinking, conformist ways that they will "survive" university in order to get their credential. Their career of creative, innovative and radical thinking (if it hasn't been "educated" out of them) can only begin upon graduation.

When I saw a "student code of conduct" emerge at one point my fear was immense because that's the first step toward an explicit narrow-minded shutting down of expression sweeping over the campus. Students need to take back their power to take back their education, while fostering open dialogue, free thought and freedom of expression. If students are waiting for someone like Rock or the Senate to instill this, it won't happen. Perhaps Rock just needs to be reminded what student activism in his day was all about."

Dr. Noble has also recently commented on an article about the dean of the Faculty of Education, HERE.

*Links and formatting by blog editor.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

U of O branding war continues -- Elections 2011 video

"Get Out of My Office 2011"

The film makers asks:

"What if University of Ottawa President Allan Rock addressed everybody the way he did his students?

Audio from Rock's 2008 tirade against student Marc Kelly."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Marie Josée Berger most ruthless administrator at U of O, student union says

[Photo (uOttawa.ca) : dean Marie Josée Berger]

The Student Appeal Centre (SAC) of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has named the dean of the Faculty of Education, Marie Josée Berger, as the first recipient of its newly inaugurated annual "Iron Fist Award".

The SAC has announced the prize on its blog where its report reads in part (LINK):

The Iron Fist is awarded to the University of Ottawa Administrator having caught Student Appeal Officers’ attention for being most ruthless and/or unjust while showing little or no respect for students. The Award considers both long-term career contributions and particularly notable specific events.

In this case, Marie Josée Berger is well deserving of the Award, having been the object of several informal complaints at the Student Appeal Centre over many years.

For the 2010-2011 school year highlights include Marie Josée Berger’s refusal to respond and investigate at least three very serious complaints filed with her office, calling a student to her office only to belittle her after the case was already resolved in favour of the student, and threatening to impede her own graduate student’s progress in the program when the student expressed her desire to change supervisors.

Past conflicts involving Berger have included harsh unjustified discipline and dismissals against several academic staff members of the Faculty of Education.

At one point an anonymous letter from several professors published in a student newspaper accused Berger of ruling the Faculty of Education in "Tonton Macoute" style. Berger threatened to sue the student paper and went on a rampage against several professors.

The notorious reputation of Berger's Faculty of Education is at least campus wide.

Characteristically, in 2009 the university's Allan Rock administration named Berger a "Celebrat[ed] extraordinary woman at the University of Ottawa".

Youtube video with Berger (and Allan Rock in the monarchy of Morocco) on the topic of dialogue:

In the video, Berger explains that she is also interested in buying gold at a good price and that she is thankful for the advice she received in this regard.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

U of O video released::: Senate dignity hits Rock-bottom -- Breach of Criminal Code

We reported about the University of Ottawa Senate meeting of April 4, 2011, in the previous post HERE. And now the university has released its video of the meeting:

It's actually worst than our original blog report. Words cannot express the disrespect and pettiness displayed by president Allan Rock and most senators shown in this video.

It's unbelievable. In the past, such contempt for collegiality and due process would not have been displayed in public, much less on video.

This video was released on the same day that the graduate student association (GSAED) sent a damning letter to the university administration and to all senate members precisely about the human rights matter in question. See the GSAED letter HERE.

Among other offenses, executives in the Faculty of Medicine colluded in terminating a medical resident with the intent to compel the resident and other employees to abstain from providing information to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. (LINK)(LINK)(LINK)

The latter is a criminal offense pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada. Allan Rock himself is collaborating in the crime by not immediately rectifying the dismissal; in light of the evidence from leaked emails.

These are the same leaked emails that student senator Joseph Hickey was trying to distribute at Senate (see above video). Allan Rock has known about the emails at least since the day they were leaked: He was a recipient - HERE.

Monday, April 4, 2011

U of O Senate repudiates human rights motion

After the Ann Coulter fiasco the University of Ottawa Senate, under the leadership of president Allan Rock, reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of expression: HERE.

After the human rights reprisals against three medical residents (LINK) the University of Ottawa Senate, under the leadership of president Allan Rock... ... ... repudiated a motion to reaffirm its commitment to a discrimination-free academic environment?

Yes, it happened at today's meeting of Senate.

THIS MOTION was considered too perturbing (?) for even a single member of Senate to second it so it could be discussed despite presidents Rock's obvious antagonism.

The three medical residents were present to speak to the motion but their contribution had been disallowed by Rock even before Senate could be consulted: HERE, HERE.

(The impolite way that the MDs themselves had been rebuffed by Rock is even more disturbing...)

This is a very low day for the University of Ottawa.

Especially in contrast to what would be needed in the form of leadership given the disturbing circumstances including criminal reprisals exposed by the Neuroleaks emails made public on the internet: HERE.