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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 1997

Structure & Anatomy of a Faculty Strike

On May 14 the academic staff at York University ended the longest strike in an English-speaking university in Canada by a vote of 74.9 per cent and in a separate ballot voted "no confidence" in their administration by a margin of 79 per cent.

Universities Not R&D Labs of Private Companies

While the promotion of research and development in Ontario should be encouraged, the R&D Challenge Fund announced by the Ontario government in the May 6 budget is an inappropriate use of public funds. It confuses two public objectives: the need to increase private sector investment in research and development with the need for increased funding support for university research. In fact, the program as announced by the government, threatens to drain funds from the universities to subsidize private sector research and development.

Bruneau's article gets failing grade for accuracy

I am writing with reference to the article by Sandra Bruneau that appeared in the Status of Women Supplement of the April 1997 issue of the Bulletin, under the title "Whither Jill? A Reply to Andrew Irvine on Affirmative Action."

Bruneau's accusation 'careless, unfair'

Sandra Bruneau’s article "Whither Jill? A Reply to Andrew Irvine on Affirmative Action" (1997 SWC Supplement) contains a careless and unfair accusation about Professor Irvine which deserves a response. I am in a good position to provide one. Specifically, Dr. Bruneau asserts that

Irvine deserves to be read

Sandra Bruneau’s discussion in the April Bulletin of Andrew Irvine’s paper on equity and discrimination in university hiring (Dialogue XXXV, 1996) shows a fine capacity for ferreting out what Irvine "assumes," "suggests" and "hints" between the lines. But since one learns from her so little of what Irvine actually wrote on the pages of his study, I feel I should direct the attention of CAUT members to his main arguments. The key methodological claim is that evidence for systemic discrimination in hiring must compare hiring ratios with ratios of groups in the candidate pool, rather than in the population at large. The key empirical argument is that there is no evidence for recent (over a period of more than 20 years) systemic discrimination against women in Canadian university hiring. The relevance of these claims to the affirmative action debate is this: if discrimination against women is the rationale for preferential treatment of women then the argument for affirmative action fails. There is, of course, much more of interest in this long article, such as an empirical examination of the often cited role-model argument for preferential treatment. But there is no claim whatever about the greater "merit" of males as Dr. Bruneau seems to believe.

Report adds libel to insult

The CAUT Status of Women Committee has stooped to a new low with Sandra Bruneau’s article, "Whither Jill? A Reply to Andrew Irvine on Affirmative Action."

Allegations without evidence debases a scholarly journal

In the April issue of CAUT, Sandra Bruneau writes: "Men, (Andrew) Irvine assumes, meet and will continue to meet criteria for merit. Why? Apparently because they are men and for no other materially significant reason." The sort of view Bruneau is imputing to Irvine — that there are something like innate differences in intelligence that fall along gender lines — places him in the illustrious company of the Philip Rushtons and Richard Hernsteins of the world. (One must only substitute race for gender.) Most serious scholars would find this particular company unwelcome. More importantly, there is nothing that Irvine has ever written which I am familiar with — and certainly no evidence cited by Bruneau — establishing that he holds anything approximating an incendiary view of the sort Bruneau imputes to him.

Bruneau argument 'absurd'

Sandra Bruneau’s article "Whither Jill?" in the April issue was supposedly a reply to Andrew Irvine’s analysis of recent trends in hiring of men and women in universities. It is difficult to see the Bruneau article as even related to Irvine’s essay, since she simply does not deal with his arguments or with his statistics. Instead, she takes it for granted that women are being discriminated against, and that they "should" be hired and promoted beyond the present levels. No evidence for such discrimination is forthcoming. Apparently assertion is enough.

A world of learning?

As usual, reading through the "Status of Women Supplement" is an educational, though depressing, experience. How long some of the changes are taking! Isn’t it ironic to work in a "world of learning" and yet experience attitudes, often on a daily basis, which tend to disenfranchise over half of the universities’ employees? Our point of view and contributions are just as important.

More apt title would have been 'Wither Reason?'

Sandra Bruneau’s pathetic article, "Whither Jill? A Reply to Andrew Irvine on Affirmative Action," is seriously mis-titled. A more astute editor would have published it — if at all — under the banner "Whither Reason? Jill’s Reply to Her Private Fantasies About Andrew Irvine on Affirmative Action."

Irvine was scrupulous, fair

Many who read Sandra Bruneau’s review (CAUT Bulletin — Status of Women Supplement, April 1997) of Andrew Irvine’s "Jack and Jill and Employment Equity" will not have read Irvine’s paper, entombed as it is in the decent obscurity of a learned journal (Dialogue XXXV, 1996, 255-91). Nor will her review encourage them to seek it out. This is a pity since Irvine addresses a genuine problem and, at least in my opinion, deals with it scrupulously and fairly. In a nutshell the problem is this: if, in making academic appointments, we depart from the policy of choosing simply on the basis of academic merit in order to favour the members of some sub-group of applicants —call it group A — this is unjust to more meritorious applicants, if any, who do not belong to group A, who are passed over in favour of As. And it will also entail that those appointed will be less well qualified than would have been the case had merit been the only criterion.

Whither the standards of accuracy & coherency?

While it is nice to see that CAUT still upholds family values and allows the president's relatives to write feature columns ("Whither Jill?", April, p. 6), one ought not for that reason to neglect some of the other standards of yesteryear.

Bahia University seeks partners in education

The Universidade Estadual do Sudoeste da Bahia (Southeast Bahia State University) is a multicamp system. The Rectorship is located in the town of Vitória da Conquista in the State of Bahia. The University offers courses in the area of education (sciences, physics, chemistry, mathematics, history, geography, and letters) agronomy, zoology, business administration, accountancy and nursing.

Minister welcomes CAUT’s suggestions

Thank you for your letter of Feb. 18 concerning the federal budget measures relating to post-secondary education.

Discriminatory hiring practices are not the solution

The cartoon chosen for the Status of Women Supplement (April 1997 Bulletin) is a telling indication of how proponents of employment equity choose to place individuals into some collective based on characteristics beyond their control. Certainly to suggest that an individual bears the mark of Cain and is either the source of benefactor of past discrimination is not just.

Managing the Effects of Cuts in Federal Transfers

Educators in Canada's post-secondary institutions have a lot to respond to these days. Cuts in federal transfers are working their way through the system and most provinces are passing those cuts down to post-secondary institutions and students. We are living with the results. For students, this means a more expensive education and attacks on the quality of education. For educators, it means dealing with administrations who often show more concern for the bottom line than they do for the needs of students and educators.

Highlights of the 42nd Council Meeting

Council honours Kanatia for 25 years of service

Not Your Average Council

On May 2, the CAUT celebrated Don Savage’s twenty-seven years of service as Executive Director with a remarkable series of talks and discussions on academic freedom, political thought and action and their implications for the future of the university.

Daniel Soberman Receives Milner Award

Daniel Soberman, emeritus professor at Queen's University was awarded the Milner Memorial Award at the May 1997 CAUT Council meeting.

Proposal to Enhance Services for Retired Academic Staff

CAUT has been examining services provided for its retired members during the past several years. CAUT representatives have attended meetings of retired faculty members which were convened at the time of the learned societies in Montreal and at Brock University. These meetings were organized and inspired by Prof. R.D. Bramwell, a retired faculty member from the University of Calgary.