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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

DAY-4 hearing into wrongful dismissal of Rancourt::: You could not make this up...

In another zoo-like episode, University hired lawyer Lynn Harnden came in this morning and announced to the Arbitrator, to the union and to the public that the University of Ottawa has just come to the realization that fired physics professor Denis Rancourt's innovative pedagogical advances constitute experimentation on human subjects.

And that, therefore, obviously, this opens a whole area that the University needs to research. Were the necessary experimental protocols approved? Was the ethics committee for experimentation on human subjects consulted?

This was introduced as new grounds for the dismissal of Rancourt and the hearing needed to be adjourned to give the University time to research these newly discovered violations...

Union lawyer Sean McGee responded that the idea that professor Rancourt's innovative teaching should be compared to testing an unknown vaccine "defies belief".

Harnden then dropped this but presented another reason that the hearing needed to be adjourned:

Despite the University having all the relevant Rancourt emails and blog posts for years and despite the University being in possession of Rancourt's office computer since the 2009 firing, the University now proclaimed that its own opening statements of yesterday newly established that the Rancourt office computer hard-drive now needed to be searched...

It argued a search of this computer was needed before the hearing could be continued.

The Arbitrator accepted the latter argument but insisted that the University must be ready to roll by the next hearing day (January 23, 2012). In looking at Mr. Harnden the Arbitrator explained "you will both have your spin but the evidence is the evidence..." Mr. Harnden smiled in agreement.

Then McGee made a final point: The University disclosure of documents (provided only yesterday) appears incomplete.

Harnden undertook to verify the completeness of the University disclosure and to advise accordingly at some later time.

As a last point, Harnden tried to get the Arbitrator to "clarify" his order to exclude video cameras to also exclude cameras outside of the hearing room. The Arbitrator explained his ruling that inside was inside and outside was outside. Mr. Harnden seemed satisfied with that.

The whole thing took under one hour and another day of hearings was again thus wasted. The count so far is: One of four days of hearings has been properly used as intended when first scheduled.

All posts about the wrongful dismissal hearings: HERE.

See hearings schedule and reports: HERE.

Chronology of wrongful-dismissal background events: HERE.


Ian Bron said...

This gets more and more bizarre, and provides evidence why cameras should have been allowed in the hearing room. I doubt these absurd lines of reasoning would have been followed if the proponents had known they would be on YouTube the next day.

CW said...

This is such a comedy... Are we still wondering about the fact that at the end the most important think about that teacher-students relationship is that the teacher might help/guide students to better understand what is to understand whatever is the method ? And we don't need a scientific research for that : students themselves are able to say what is useful for them or not. It's like for example listening to music while studying : for some students it helps to study better, for some others, it's better without music; in both cases, we don't need a scientific report to know what's better for studying. Students are complete humans beings able to think and reflect by themselves and to know what's good for them or not. An academic system based on grades might not be the best method to understand the world and students should be able to decide by themselves what's best for their own education.

Steve E. Noble said...

The idea that classroom explorations and "experiments" in pedagogy need to be cleared for ethics review was the most preposterous thing I've heard! Imagine all the professors in the Faculty of Education requiring to get their daily teaching plans and course syllabi reviewed by an ethics review first because they're in the business (at least some are - others still maintain boring lectures are best...)of pedagogical reform and testing new ideas.

The other issue that I found really juvenile was that Harnden, I'm assuming, complained that Senator Hickey was asking the employer side questions about the hearing during the break - for their opinions - and I'm assuming Harnden from the employer side boo-hooed to the arbitrator (perhaps some soothers were needed?) and now there's no recording at all in the hearing room. I wrote in my notes that at least we're free to interview/record in the bathrooms, hallways and foyer of the hotel.... by the end of the hearing even that was thrown into some doubt when the arbitrator stated he may broaden the taping ban to outside the hearing room!

I am glad to hear the Association lawyer say that he was ready to go today and after more two years Dr. Rancourt deserves to have this hearing proceed. Now if the University could get its act together (Does it have an act to get together???)

The stalling tactic of the hard drive on Rancourt's computer that the employer had since 2009 was remarkable. I'm glad the arbitrator put his foot down on the stalling tactics. I just am finding the employer side seems to be like a bunch of stumble bumpkins (I sure hope this is just an act and that we're doing to see some serious engagement soon)...through it all though... I am thinking how many library books, computers, classrooms, professors, etc. could all these legal fees cover that are being diverted from tuition fees and taxpayer funding?

We were promised, by the arbitrator, that the first witnesses will finally be arriving at the next hearing (January 23, 2012)