On Nov. 22 representatives of more than 70 Canadian university faculty organizations gave formal approval to a plan to boycott the controversial Technical University of British Columbia (TechBC). International faculty organizations are anxious to see the British Columbia legislation amended to protect academic freedom and academic governance. Now that Canadian faculty associations have agreed to a long-term strategy on TechBC, the way is open for international academics to begin their campaigns.
"This boycott is essential. For two years, the government of British Columbia and the governors of TechBC have proven themselves unwilling to engage in substantive discussion on how to run this institution," said Robert Clift, Executive Director of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA/ BC), speaking to delegates at CAUT's November council meeting.
"There are ways for TechBC to achieve its specialized mandate while respecting the academic freedom of professors and respecting the roles of professors and students in academic decision-making. We offered to help them achieve this, but our offers went unanswered. It was only when we indicated the possibility of a boycott that they began to take notice. The pressure must be kept on if we are to get the necessary legislative amendments."
CUFA/BC and CAUT have carried out a boycott campaign against TechBC since July 28, when the Technical University of British Columbia Act became law. The approval of the boycott campaign by the CAUT council confirms the activities to date and gives approval to enter the next stage of the campaign. CAUT President Bill Bruneau told council delegates the campaign will continue to proceed in stages, increasing in intensity as time passes.
"The negative opinion of the international academic community puts a great strain on an educational institution. We want to give the B.C. government every opportunity to deal with our objections before the weight of opinion cripples TechBC," Dr. Bruneau said.
CAUT and CUFA/BC representatives met with TechBC officials in mid-December to discuss the boycott and how the institution might address the deficiencies in the legislation. Both sides felt positive about the discussions, but there has not yet been enough progress to consider lifting the boycott.
Background documents are available on the Internet at http://cufabc.harbour.sfu.ca/tubc/index.html.