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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Some U of O students shut down the BOG over tuition fees: So very lame

Video reports about the recent student action to shut down a meeting of the Board of Governors (BOG) of the University of Ottawa are HERE, and HERE.

This student action was so lame. Let me explain how and why it was lame.

The "action" is solely a complaint, nothing more. Students were passively asking to be oppressed fairly. There was no hint of wanting to take over to better manage the institution. There was no offense in the tactic. Instead, it was purely a complaint about the quantum of fees.

Meanwhile administrative costs and executive globalization projects are skyrocketing...

Hey students! Here is a hint: Make a graph of total executive and executive support staff salaries (on the y axis) versus time (on the x-axis), for the last 15 years or so. Express y as a fraction of the total operating budget if you like, to account for student population and overall budget growth. Oh, and get your own numbers, not any spin from the corporate spin doctors.

Have you noticed the growth of the media relations and communications offices in recent decades...? Or just look at the president's salary for the last 20 years... That's quite a historic break!

Now I know that most of you are only around for 4 years or so, but you can research what happened before you arrived...

Corperatization and globalization are not solely about vanity buildings and brand name coffee.  They are about the institution being taken over by corporate and global interests and being run by those interests. This includes:
  • the massive drives to recruit foreign students paying large tuition fees (diploma mill economics)
  • the president's trips around the globe (notice how he's always out when something happens?)
  • top-down academic exchange programs with Israel (why Israel?)
  • "responsibility to protect" talks on campus (whose ideology?)
  • increasing "security" (cameras, lock downs, campus police...)
  • the institution's image propaganda machine (resource allocation for brand maintenance...)
  • technology and buildings being more important than quality teaching (do you like Power Point?)
  • blotted salaries of upper tier research professors (do the math)
  • poverty wages for everyone else (temp staff, undergraduate students)
  • loss of participatory collegial governance (you don't even know what that is, right?)
  • centralized control of all resource allocations (try getting a room for a student event...)
  • centralized control of all messaging (try putting up a poster)
  • costs of centralized control...
  • skyrocketing institutional legal fees (discontent students and employees sue... more lawsuits and grievances than you can count)
The list goes on.

If professors were made responsible to educate or took that responsibility, instead of being buried in or hiding behind their high-paying assembly line jobs, then you could have an education at a small fraction of the present cost, if you cared to take it.

And, um, did you consider that you are adults being forced to finance your productive work for society...? I mean does that ever cross your mind, that if you are going to be institutionalized into forced work, then you should at least be salaried?

Negotiate a salary, and impose student governance leverage on the actual management of the outfit. Grow up.

Lame. Access...? Lame.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The cross-examination of Professor Rancourt continues: Blog articles and student spy report introduced into evidence

Maureen Robinson -- student spy hired by the U of O, active 2007-2008
The public tribunal hearings into the 2009 firing of tenured Full Professor Denis Rancourt at the University of Ottawa are on-going this May and June 2013.

These hearings will determine if the dismissal of the professor was (1) justified, and (2) whether it was done in bad faith for reasons other than the alleged pretexts given.

The main alleged reason given by the University of Ottawa for firing the professor is that he would have assigned fraudulent grades to 23 students in an advanced physics course in the winter semester of 2008, grades that are alleged to have no relation to the students' actual performances and progress in the course.

A recent ruling by the Arbitrator has allowed the university to cross-examine Rancourt on his radical blogs "U of O Watch" and "Activist Teacher", and on any broad question to impeach Rancourt's "credibility" and/or fitness to be a university professor.

Rancourt's union had argued that such questions should not be permitted (HERE and HERE). The University had argued that such questions are proper cross-examination questions (HERE and HERE).

The Arbitrator explained that allowing the cross-examination questions is a distinct step from a determination of the relevance of the questions and answers, and cited the factors for determining admissibility of the thus gathered evidence.

The questions about the blogs appear to be aimed at establishing that Rancourt cannot be allowed back on campus because he incites and/or condones violence (link), because he is an anarchist, because he attacks University administrators with no regard for their feelings (link), because he uses his blogs for vengeance against any University executive associated with the dismissal (link), because he celebrates burning cop cars at G20 (link), because he promotes academic squatting (link), and so on.

On May 23, 2013, the University was allowed to put into evidence a report covertly prepared by a hired student spy about a talk Rancourt gave on another campus in 2007. Rancourt requested that he be provided a complete document rather than an incomplete report, and requested that the source of the report be identified and documented on the record, prior to answering questions about the report. Rancourt's requests were not granted. The Arbitrator ordered Rancourt to answer questions about the report. Rancourt was then cross-examined about the report.

The union will introduce a new witness when the hearings resume on June 5, 2013. The cross-examination of Professor Rancourt will then continue after the new witness is cross-examined and re-examined.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Start stop cross-examination of Professor Denis Rancourt at dismissal case tribunal

Lawyer for the University of Ottawa Lynn Harnden spent the whole morning cross-examining Professor Denis Rancourt today.

The very first question was (from memory) "Do you agree with the Maclean's magazine description of you as a self-described anarchist?"

[I should have answered: "Did you know that Mahatma Gandhi was a self-described anarchist?" or "I am not and have never been a member of the Communist Party." Sheez. What century are we in?]

That set the tone for the morning's questions which were all about Professor Rancourt allegedly using his U of O Watch blog and emails for vengeance and to inflict emotional hurt.

Finally, lead counsel for the union objected to the entire line of questioning as being irrelevant to the issues before the Arbitrator.

The Arbitrator asked for written legal submissions from both sides in order to decide if these broad questions will be allowed to continue. The Arbitrator will provide his decision by Tuesday May 21st when the hearings will resume, with or without the broad questions.

The purely legal arguments will be part of the public record.

Rancourt has blogged critically and with sting about his colleagues and the University administration since 2007, years before he was dismissed. Yet the University never reprimanded him for his blog reports or asked him to stop. Now it is using the blog to justify itself in the dismissal case.

By contrast, the University had to ask one certain Chairman of Chemistry "that he refrain from making such comments aimed towards you...": LINK.

General background document: HERE.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Final hearings in the dismissal case of Professor Denis Rancourt

In May and June 2013 are the final hearings in the binding labour arbitration tribunal in the case of the dismissal of tenured Full Professor Denis Rancourt from the University of Ottawa.

The schedule for the 14 final hearing days is:
May 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, June 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 25, 26 2013 at 9:30am.
Hotel Indigo Ottawa (Indigo Room), 123 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa.

Arbitrator: Claude Foisy
Lead counsel University: Lynn Harnden
Lead counsel union: Sean McGee

Professor Rancourt finished his testimony in chief on May 14th. He will be cross-examined starting on May 15th.

In the course of the first days of testimony, the University has abandoned its discipline of Professor Rancourt for refusing to produce the final examinations of his students. This is no longer one of the causes for discipline.

The remaining alleged causes for discipline include:
  • using improper speakers in his Fall 2006 SCI 1101 "Science in Society" course;
  • giving anomalously high grades (too many A's) in his Winter 2007 PHY 1722 "Principes de Physique II" course; and
  • assigning fraudulent A+ grades to 23 students in his Winter 2008 PHY 4385/5100 "Solid State Physics" course.
The University is also charging that Professor Rancourt incites violence and should therefore not be allowed back on campus even if his dismissal was not warranted.

Background document: HERE.