for Social Awareness and Responsibility
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Taxpayers Uniting for Healthier Universities
In recent years Universities (Canadian at least) have experienced astounding
financial pressures as they struggle to justify their existence and redefine
their role. It occurs to us that, in the major reconstruction of
Universities and the manner in which they are managed, monetary issues
and political issues may be affecting the day to day experiences of the
students and the professors in ways that do not measure up to the published
standards - ways never intended, we expect, by the founders of these institutions
of higher learning. We therefore perceive a need for a broad based
resource that is not only capable of helping those who respect/share a
common primary allegiance; but, that is also accessible to support these
same crusaders as they deal with a bureaucracy distracted by more myopic
struggles of the organization.
In support of those who
follow truth beyond political & economic correctness
In support of student-professor
relations which are equitable.
In support of contract teachers
who might otherwise feel influenced by undue and/or professionally irrelevant
pressure unrelated/contradictory to published goals and assignments and/or
to the collective sense of morals/ethics/values.
In support of professors
and administrators who want to do their work, to the best of their abilities,
and who recognize that, as an organization supported by tax dollars, dedicated
to pursuing excellence (and to transferring that attitude and knowledge
to the taxpayers and/or their children), their primary allegiance is to
the well-being of those same taxpayers and their children.
In support of all those
who (proactively) share our sincere desire for the genuine well-being of
institutions with extraordinary purpose/intent.
As an aid to publications
like "Macleans" which endeavour to objectively rate schools along relevant
criteria in an effort to facilitate students and parents in their quest
for higher education.
It occurs to us that the current (Canadian) University system gives
a subtle and automatic advantage to the professors and administrators,
charged with serving the taxpayers and their children, over students -
by the nature of the duration of their time on campus and their closer
relationships to people of influence within their environment. Because
of the relatively short term (4 -5 years) of student exposure, their set
of expectations, their frame of mind, their state of innocence, their lack
of idiosyncratic credits, and their relative/general lack of contacts and
resources, students are sometimes at a disadvantage in dealing with the
vagaries of the University system.
As long as the entrenched powers are acting with integrity and honouring
their primary allegiance, the students' disadvantage is likely not an issue.
When, as occasionally happens in organizations, something goes awry, then
this disadvantage can be daunting, intimidating, and even crippling (emotionally)
to the underdog. If the entrenched "power" is not honouring the organization's
primary allegiance, the results can be devastating and extremely difficult
to deal with (virtually impossible to deal with from "within"?)
It is the hope of TUHU (CSAR) that we can provide an effective balance
which is useful to all.
This project is the focus of what is still a very new concept
for us and we are actively seeking ideas and support of most every kind.
Feel free to contact
us with your input.
We look for support from:
Provincial and Federal governments.
the taxpayers at large.
students who feel they have not been treated fairly.
professors who feel unduly encouraged to defer to the economic and/or political
goals of the institution
parents of students who have questions about the code of ethics/behaviour
by which professors/teachers are governed and the grievance process used
to clarify and/or take issue with vagaries and aberrations.
administrators of subject institutions who would like to support
the spirit of the university policies and codes more fully if given shelter
from the political and economic pressures.
benefactors who would likely rest easier knowing that their generosity
is being utilized consistent with published standards.
We would strive to act as a depot to ease the general understanding
of such issues as:
We would strive to act as a lobbying group to support individual students,
professors, and administrators who seem to have been unfairly treated in
accordance with published standards and/or those who make a case for changing
standards that they think unfair.
standards of teaching by which professors are measured.
standards of professor-student relations by which professors are measured.
how published standards are applied in practice.
standards by which administrators are measured.
criteria used for screening and selection of professors and administrators
who might then be chosen for additional responsibilities - and therefore
additional credibility. e.g. Deans, Chief Administrators, Student
how all of the above are communicated to the students
reporting structures within the organization ( who is responsible to/for
the grievance process
moral turpitude: What is it? Why is it already in the contracts?
How is it administered?
In the mid 1990's and early 2000
there was a publicized court case where the defendant, a hockey coach,
was accused and later convicted of taking unfair sexual advantage of players.
Part of the inculpating evidence accepted by the judge was the testimony
from experts who made the point that there can be no equitable relationship
between two individuals where one of those individuals has authority (real
or perceived) over the other.
there is mounting publicity regarding alleged misconduct of representatives
of major churches in Canada in their treatment of children in their care.
In 2000, representatives of the Anglican and United Churches have stated
that if the plaintiff's lawsuits are successful, their churches will be
the Ontario Government is facing major lawsuits from the survivors of victims
of contaminated water supply in a small town in Southern Ontario.
Six people died and hundreds of others were seriously ill after the drinking
contaminated water. The plaintiff's allege that the government had
known about the substandard water for months and abused the public trust
by failing to act in the best interest of the community.
there was another publicized case of extensive sexual abuse by a number
of the support staff running a professional hockey arena who had been active
over a very long period of time as they "guarded each others' backs".
there was a meeting between a CSAR sponsor and a Dean of a prominent University.
One of us was concerned about alleged misconduct between a high profile
Professor and one or more University students. The professor was
student-faculty advisor at the time and was associated with a significant
financial program made possible by a generous benefactor. After said
meeting and the passing of years conspicuously devoid of communications
regarding this matter, we are even more concerned. In addition to
being vague and discouraging about the possibility/desirability of proceeding
with a grievance, the Dean had communicated:
The experience left us wondering if the system was lacking. How are
such issues managed - really? When money and the sensitivities of
a benefactor are involved, are bureaucrats:
" If there was a rogue professor, I would shoot him myself."
" You know, it is all her (the students') fault."
It is OK for professors to have relationships with students; they might
If there was any concern over the professor's alleged activities, he was
not going to discuss it with us and he apparently was not interested in
proactively understanding what we had seen/heard (which coincidentally
was not in favour of the professor).
previously, we had made many calls to various persons normally associated
with dealing with these issues. No one asked us why we were so concerned.
No one asked us what we had seen/experienced. Not the Staff Sergeant
of the University Police. Not the sexual harassment counselors. Not
the sexual harassment lawyer. (This lawyer actually refused to give us
her fax number which we had requested for the purposes of communicating
in written form!!!) Not the Chief Administrator of the University.
Not the Dean. It seemed as if they were more interested in discrediting
the messenger - as if there was the automatic assumption that we were spurious
or ill intentioned. Do they actually think that by discrediting the
messenger they could somehow obviate the need to scrutinize the message?
Or did they already know what we were going to say? Is there some
sort of ongoing sordid saga here? Were they afraid of pursuing truth
in this situation? Had we tripped on something much bigger than we had
the Staff Sergeant of the University indicated to us that they had completed
their investigation to their satisfaction. How did they do this without
asking us what we knew?
the sexual harassment people indicated that they would not take action
unless a victim came forth. Isn't that a lot ( too much?) to expect
in many of these situations - especially if the victim were to get the
same treatment as we did when we saw the Dean?
the professor in question seems to be a "bottom feeder". Has he assembled
"stuff" incriminating to others and is he using it for protection and leverage?
The meeting with the Dean left us with other questions:
More likely to look the other way?
More likely to be tolerant of behaviours aberrant to the published standards?
More likely to try to sweep potential embarrassments under the carpet?
More likely to discredit the messenger instead of dealing with the message?
More likely to fabricate a scapegoat?
We sense that Universities may be at a management crossroads. We
speculate that they could be at the end of an era typified by their superior
resources, media control, and ability to muster public support/sympathy.
Could it be that they are not yet appreciating the fact that they are at
the leading edge of the era of the internet... An era where individuals
have profound impact on the sharing of information... An era where
they no longer have an automatic credibility advantage and their media
resources are no match for the instant, low cost internet access...
An era where (we contend) truth and the genuine attempt to live what they
profess to believe will be a more useful, more cost/benefit approach to
garnering public support.
Was he a typical Dean? Was he typical of the caliber of bureaucrat
available to represent the tax payers' well-being?
How many concurrent relationships can a Professor have before the administration
suspects that marriage is not the likely motivation?
Do Deans really manage with techniques/paradigms we perceive as antiquated,
self-serving, myopic, and inadequate?
Can the taxpayers hire better people? Should they try?
What criteria is used to screen candidates for higher management positions
in these organizations charged with the care and nurturing of our students,
Was it just us or did the Dean think that all taxpayers are stupid?
Does he represent the general administration?
Was the Dean confusing a wish for secrecy with the privilege of privacy/discretion?
Who is responsible for selecting/managing/evaluating the performance of
the Dean, the Chief Administrator, etc.? How are evaluations executed?
Are the performance evaluations tied to annual increases or are pay increases
In the management consulting arena, there is an adage that suggests that
the longer the time required to bring truth to an issue, the higher up
the the bureaucracy the problem is being supported. Does it apply
It is our understanding that Professorial contracts allow for dismissal
for something called "moral turpitude". What is this? How is
this notion applied in practice? What prompted it's inclusion in
the contracts initially?
It was purely "dumb luck" that we stumbled on to this situation.
How are these situations generally caught otherwise?
Why does the campus law enforcement call themselves "University Police"?
In our experience, Police are the people you go to when you want justice
and fair hearing/treatment FOR ALL. These "enforcers" seem to be
It seems to us that this University system has demonstrated a knee-jerk
reaction that demonstrates a willingness for the flagrant disregard/abuse
of the public's trust - even when someone (like CSAR) is watching:
What is really happening in situations where those affected are helpless?
What could this school possibly do to revive/reassure the public's trust?
What is this school willing to do to reassure taxpayers (their employer(s))
that they deserve to be self-regulating?
What purpose do the systems designed to deal with sexual harassment
currently serve - really? We had (for over 30 years) believed that
these systems were designed/initiated to protect the rights of the students
and in the broader sense the well-being of the community. Our perspective/experience
suggests that, in this situation, these systems were focused and dedicated
- automatically directed - in favour of the "old guard" ... those who,
by means as yet unidentified, have built up their idiosyncratic credits
and who have been able to "call in" some favours regardless of the truth.
Indeed when we had contacted the Sexual Harassment Counsellor we had expressed
a need to gain some assurance that the professor was not taking advantage
of others and would not be able to do so in the future. Her response
was simply " That will never happen". CSAR wonders if that is an
appropriate attitude/response for such an employee with such a responsible,
front line position.
In many other organizations, the Board of Directors can sometimes be held
responsible/accountable for the actions/behaviours of the people over whom
they have ultimate authority. Is this also true concerning the Boards
of Governors and/or the Senates which serve to manage a university?
What would happen to the University if these (TUHU) techniques for communicating/disseminating
fell into the hands of a another victim or a disgruntled professor/staff?
TUHU has focused on the general well-being of all involved, attempting
to give the University every opportunity to self correct. It is easy
to imagine that not all are this well intentioned. It is also easy
to imagine that the exploits of this professor are (hopefully uncommon)
not unique. Given the energy that the the entrenched bureaucracy
has committed to the damage control in this single outstanding occurrence,
it seems that they are worried that his exploits and their mismanagement
of same might be serious infractions difficult to defend/explain in the
light of public scrutiny. Is the University (system): An incipient
minefield? Off track? At odds with those who would remind it
of the primary allegiance? Using a disproportionate amount of the
tax dollars to create an image rather than do the job?
In another vein ... or is it?
In late 1999 and early 2000 a major university has received considerable
unfavourable press for the treatment it has given ( is giving?) some of
it's budding professors ....
Dr. ... filed a complaint with the Commission in December, 1992,
after being denied tenure four times between 1987 and 1992. He was
fired in 1994. Evidence gathered confirms that "his race, colour,
ancestry, place of origin and ethnic origin were factors in his failure
to obtain an academic appointment and that he was subjected to a series
of reprisals culminating in his dismissal".
CSAR wonders if any "old boys network" can effectively empower favoured
individuals to take license with intent of the published rules, regulations
and standards of behaviour. The vice provost of this same University
was reported to indicate that the hiring policies of the particular (small)
department were not to be taken as a reflection on the University as a
whole. Is this pure nonsense? Who is charged with managing
this situation? What does a vice provost do to justify his/her existence?
Look at the dates in this dispute. After 13 years it might seem that
even an inferior intelligence would be getting the message that something
is unreasonable. Indeed the vice provost indicated that their own
internal investigation concluded that the Doctor in question was exploited
(-doing extra duties not covered in his research associate's pay- ) but
not discriminated against. What century are these people living in?
Wasn't the University system created and designed to overcome these kinds
It seems to us that the University in question is indicating in undeniable
terms that they are either unable or unwilling to do what is required to
represent their employers, the taxpayers, fairly and honestly.
It is the goal of CSAR to identify and support those persons/groups
who are intent upon doing the "right thing". However difficult the"right
thing" is to define and/or accomplish at times, we must continue to try.
We thought that this university held that gauntlet - enthusiastically.
We are losing faith that they are even interested in trying to do anything
except perhaps justify a set of (myopic) financial and status criteria.
Without further analysis, we do not pretend to know what the "right thing"
is. We do know that what has been demonstrated does not qualify.
Indeed it is not even close. It is so far from the mark that the
people who volunteered for (and are entrusted with) the opportunity to
manage these situations must be suspected of being embarrassingly inept
and/or woefully unmotivated to uphold their published functions.
Clearly, a higher standard must be enthusiastically embraced.