Dozens of prominent Canadian writers have signed an open letter to UBC demanding an independent investigation into the firing of Steven Galloway, the university’s former creative writing program chair.
The document, which includes names like Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, and John Valliant raises concerns the school unfairly tarnished Galloway’s reputation.
It says UBC went public and gave multiple media interviews about “serious allegations” against him, while never providing Galloway himself with information about the claims.
“These actions cast a cloud of suspicion over Professor Galloway and created the impression that he was in some way a danger to the university community,” states the letter.
It goes on to note he was let go despite no charges being laid against the professor, or the findings of an internal investigation ever being released.
“Both a statement from the UBC Faculty Association and the report of an independent journalist who had access to the Boyd report have since revealed that all but one of the allegations investigated, including the most serious one, were unsubstantiated,” it states.
Susin Neilsen, an adjunct professor who worked alongside Galloway before he was fired, says she and many others have deep concerns into how the matter was handled.
“It was very hard not to miss the connection when this all happened, it was literally two days before The Fifth Estate was airing their damning documentary about the same faculty’s mishandling complaints about the PHD history student,” she says.
That case refers to UBC’s failure for more than a year to expel a student who had been the subject of several complaints from female students, described in one case as a “serial predator.”
Nielsen says she thinks decision-makers reacted in fear, leading Galloway’s case to be mishandled.
Galloway was let go in June after what the university only described as “serious misconduct.”
A statement from UBC says a review of the university’s decision is already underway.
But it says it can not speak in detail about the case because of Galloway’s right to privacy which he has not waived.
And it adds Galloway has the right to challenge the school’s decision, with his case to heard by an independent and experienced arbitrator.
With files from Emily Lazatin