Following the latest hearing day of October 12, 2011, in the wrongful dismissal case of physics professor Denis Rancourt, the Arbitrator invited written submissions about video recording of the sessions, with a submission deadline of October 18, 2011.
A report about the October 12, 2011, arbitration session is HERE. Public records of the hearings are HERE. Nasty things done to Prof. Rancourt are listed HERE.
Two written submissions about video access were received by Arbitrator Claude Foisy, from Dr. Steve E. Noble and from the griever Dr. Denis Rancourt; HERE and HERE.
Excerpts from the submissions of Dr. Noble are as follows.
From the Summary:
"This is the first case of its kind in Canada – the (wrongful) dismissal of a tenured full professor because of academic reasons (which flies in the face of implicit full academic freedoms professors are supposed to enjoy within university settings). It is a landmark case that has national and arguably international repercussions for the Academy, more broadly."
"I demand that these hearings must be audio-visually recorded and that an air of openness, transparency, public accountability be presumed over that of confidentiality and restricting public access. This shouldn’t even be some belaboured discussion."
From the main text:
"... Yet, here we have an arbitration that was immediately cloaked in secrecy despite the public nature of the issue and the institution involved."
"... hiding this public good behind a constructed mantel of pervasive corporate managerialism undermines democracy, while disavowing the overwhelmingly public nature of “ownership” of these institutions."
"Priority – and the default - should be for openness, transparency, public accountability – because this relates to the running of a public institution, paid for by taxpayers and, increasingly through student tuition/ancillary fees: a university."
"University administrators, including legal counsel and President Rock are not shareholders, nor corporate owners; they are caretakers or custodians of the public good and investment in education paid for by citizens. And as caretakers, they should be operating with the presumption that everything they do, or documents they produce, will and should come under public scrutiny."
"Students are learners and stakeholders, not clientswho should not be privy to confidential commercial information and interests. Increasingly, university elites act like autocratic parents to increasingly infantilized students, rendered relatively powerless: unseen and unheard. Muzzling the recording of these hearings would be an extension of knowing what’s best for the academic community."
"The default position must be that these hearings must be audio-visually recorded because it’s in the public’s interest to do so. And that’s the first interest that should be protected."
"I find it deeply troubling that the union, for instance, has agreed that none of the hearings be transcribed. [...] To remove a layer of public record makes me very suspicious as to why this is being requested and why this is being agreed to."
"Publicly firing a 20+ year professor who is fully tenured under questionable processes is directly relevant to the broader Academic, Educational and General communities. This episode within the University of Ottawa will have direct effect upon academic freedom, freedoms of expression and tenure policy for years to come. Students and professors alike need to have all material arising from these hearings available to them to engage in debate and discourse as part of the much larger educational project."
-- Dr. Steve E. Noble
Dr. Rancourt's submissions are HERE.
The next hearing dates and places are listed HERE.