RIP academic freedom in Education at #UBC #ubcnews #ubc100 #ubysseynews #bced #caut_acppu

by Stephen Petrina on May 13, 2016

Of course, turns out that parallel to all the overt puffy announcements about a new era of academic freedom at the University of British Columbia, covertly behind the scenes is a progressive decommissioning of channels and media of communication.

Symbolic of a covert erosion of academic freedom, after about 17 years of UBC’s Faculty of Education‘s shared listserv for Educ-Faculty, the forum was suddenly and sadly shut down. Out of the blue beginning last Friday (6 May) through today, a series of decisions culminated in this explicit clampdown on academic freedom. As this morning’s memo from the Dean and Associate Dean reads:

our changes respond to a significant number of complaints we have received about the utilization of EDUC-Faculty in particular, as a medium wherein individual faculty members broadcast their own perspective regarding one or more aspects of the work and trajectory of the Faculty of Education.

Ah yes, the “significant number of complaints” about the expression of academic freedom… Goodness forbid that “faculty members broadcast their own perspective regarding one or more aspects of the work and trajectory” of the University.

One might think that if indeed there was a problem with unmoderated communication, and there was not, the reasonable response would be to move to moderation of the listserv, not shut it down.

Oh yes, the memo concludes with the hypocritical “Tuum Est – It is yours.

RIP academic freedom at UBC?

Was it the petition we forwarded over the Educ-Faculty list that initiated faculty members’ No Confidence vote in the Board of Governors? Was it what we said? Or didn’t say?


*A technical aside is the 2014-2015 decommissioning of Majordomo at UBC. Beginning 1992, majordomo provided a user-friendly platform for listserv communication channels or media. Clean and low-tech code, majordomo hosted a range of user commands that, among other simple things, allows one to generate a list of recipients or the audience of communication (yes, this config can be turned off but most leave it open). At UBC, majordomo lists were migrated to L-Soft, a clunky web-based interface. The vast majority of L-Soft configurations of lists at UBC limit users to two commands: subscribe and unsubscribe. RIP majordomo at UBC.