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

Monday, March 3, 2014

Male witches burn a lot less frequently

[Original title: Response to "University of Ottawa statement on comments made about Student Federation President"]

University of Ottawa statement on comments made about Student Federation President

OTTAWA, March 1, 2014  —  The University of Ottawa is appalled by the recent online dialogue about Anne-Marie Roy, President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

uOttawa President Allan Rock spoke with SFUO President Roy directly on Friday to offer the University’s support and committed to work with her to develop an appropriate response.

“The comments demonstrate attitudes about women and sexual aggression that have no place on campus, or anywhere else in Canadian society” said Mr. Rock.  “The University will work with our student President to ensure the situation is addressed properly.”

The University of Ottawa is committed to maintaining a campus that promotes respect for the dignity of every individual and a University community that is free from sexual harassment and discrimination.

Allan Rock has stepped-in to "work with her" to "develop an appropriate response", and to "ensure the situation is addressed properly".

“The comments demonstrate attitudes about women and sexual aggression that have no place on campus, or anywhere else in Canadian society” said Mr. Rock.


There appears to be no consideration given to the fact that this was a private exchange that was made public against the will of the participants, and that a large public mobbing ensued, which caused irreparable damage to four elected student representatives, who are being burned as witches that practice "rape culture". And Allan Rock wants to be seen as providing the stage. (media links)

If we start using extracted private exchanges (i) as a measure of success in our social engineering endeavors, and (ii) to identify those worthy of punishment and banishment, then we are headed straight into a totalitarian nightmare.

Your staging, Mr. Rock, does not address the root of the problem, and only drives us further down the wrong path. Open dialogue, without the fear of crippling material and status punishments, is what is needed, combined with less institutional oppression of the students all-round (who are bored to death by meaningless demands, and who dare not try to have a say).

Generating fear of expression and of having bad thoughts only makes things worst Mr. Rock. It is a mess you could have helped defuse but instead you joined and encouraged the mob. U of O is developing mobbing as the ultimate social betterment tool, under your enlightened leadership. What a mess.

It's not an election with branding points to be made Mr. Rock. It's a campus for learning. Is that so difficult to understand? You can't fight "rape culture" with campaigns and threats. You have to speak to the hearts of men. D - I - A - L - O - G - U - E.


JPL said...

In a society with free speech, the proper response to speech promoting violence (such as, in this case, suggestions that a person be sexually assaulted) is for other people to use their own free speech to denounce the original speakers. Social exclusion is a proper, non-hierarchical response to behavior that's "inconsistent with the public good" (to re-use your own words in the intro. to this blog).

So how can you say, in this case, that the reactions of students to this conversation is "mobbing" and somehow goes too far?

Denis Rancourt said...


National media, the university president using institutional power, use of SFUO position/power, forced resignations from elected offices, egregious violation of privacy, organized public demonstrations of outrage, ...

You figure it out.

Mobbing, with or without the aid of institutional power, is an entirely different species of social phenomenon from "speaking truth to power", or from non-hierarchical face-to-face persons-to-persons discussion/dialogue/argument. It is also a well studied phenomenon that should not be so difficult to recognize.

JPL said...

If I read correctly, a large part of the outrage is that the 4 men themselves were elected SFUO officials and in charge of organizing events with alcohol, etc. Asking for their resignation for trivializing sexual violence (even in a Facebook chat) is not exaggerated.

But your broader point, if I understand it well, is that when a single person outs someone's outrageous behavior and post their online communications (as you do, for example, on this very blog) that's speaking truth to power, but when too many people pile on (even without the aid of institutional power), it becomes mobbing?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure as to the motivation behind placing quotation mark around "rape culture", but it seems rather disingenuous. Do you doubt that such a thing exists? Because I think that that is a more important issue to tackle before criticizing the rest of your blog post, as (non-)belief in the existence of rape culture is fundamental to the rest of your argument(s).

Sarah said...

This is really fucked up, Denis. Do you know how RARE it is for a university administration to actually stand behind the targets of abuse, rather than supporting the abusers themselves? Regardless of their reasons for finally doing something right, they ARE doing it and instead YOU are the one defending sexually abusive language. WTF?

I would much rather be part of a "mob" that stands against sexual violence than support the slut-shaming rape-apologist "mobs" that have been dominating pretty much every other media representation of campus sexual abuses.

Hannah Gerke said...

I don't understand how "private conversation" can even be used as a reason to defend these four men. And rather blame the University and its other students. Whether you do something wrong in private or in public is irrelevant. IT IS WRONG. If a man beats his girlfriend in private and the 'public' finds out and his reputation and livelihood is ruined, is the public at fault? No, the man is!
If they didn't want their reputations ruined (whatever their positions), they should not have said what they said.