A UBC gender and diversity professor says the university is trying to silence her.
It comes after she wrote a controversial blog about the surprise change of the institution’s leadership.
Jennifer Berdahl’s blog post “Did Arvind Gupta lose the masculinity contest?” has certainly garnered attention.
She suggests Gupta’s demise may be, in part, because he didn’t fit the mold — something women and minorities sometimes have had trouble with.
Now, the professor writes the university is trying to gag her, with several higher ups, including the chair of the board of governors, directly admonishing her for the post.
Berdahl says she has “never … felt more institutional pressure to be silent,” and notes she has the “right to academic freedom and expression, free of intimidation and harassment.”
UBC Faculty Association has lost confidence in UBC BoG Chair
A new twist in the turmoil raging in UBC’s leadership with the school’s faculty association now saying it’s lost confidence in the chair of UBC’s Board of Governors.
Secrecy around the exit of University president Arvind Gupta, an allegation of violated academic freedoms, interference with university operations and staff, and personal conflict of interest.
Strong charges from the UBC Faculty Association’s executive against Board of Governors Chair John Montalbano.
It comes in the wake of Gupta’s resignation – just a year into the job.
It came off the heels of Berdahl’s blog post.
The university says it’s seriously investigating the charges around academic freedom.
UBC responds to allegations of breached academic freedom
In a statement, UBC interim president Martha Piper and Vice Provost Angela Redish issued the following statement:
The allegations of breaches of academic freedom in a recent blog post are serious and UBC has the processes to appropriately address such allegations.
Universities serve society but are also established to question society and academic freedom is the bedrock on which a university exists. The role of critic can only be accomplished in an environment that is free from administrative, political or religious constraint.
The collective agreement confirms that members of the University have the freedom, within the law, to pursue what seems to them to be fruitful avenues of inquiry, to teach and to learn unhindered by external or non-academic constraints. Suppression of this freedom, whether by the institutions of the state, the officers of the University or the actions of private individuals, would prevent the University from carrying out is primary function.
All members of the UBC community recognize and value this fundamental principle, and must share responsibility for supporting, safeguarding and preserving it. Academic freedom is balanced by the scholar’s commitment to academic integrity that requires intellectual honesty and objectivity, unfettered by personal gain or financial or political considerations.
The principles of fairness and due process are also fundamental to the UBC community, and we must respect the law to ensure all members of the university community are enabled to contribute fully to their endeavours. As such, UBC has rigorous processes in place – established with the agreement of the Faculty Association – to investigate any allegation of breach of academic freedom. It is imperative that we follow this impartial process embedded within and protected by the collective agreement before pre-judging unproven and untested allegations at this time.
The facts will be gathered and all parties will be heard before reaching any conclusion. We welcome this process and it would be entirely inappropriate to comment further on the allegations until this process has been concluded.