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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 1998

Investigator's Disclosure Fuels Ethics Debate

At the Hospital for Sick Children administrators are in the midst of a swirling controversy over academic freedom and research ethics.

Campaign Vetoes Market Reform

A series of five tongue-in-cheek pamphlets from the Association of University Staff of New Zealand (AUS) is drawing the attention of AUS members, university students, politicians, the media and the public to the government's push for a market model in tertiary education. The pamphlets are part of an AUS campaign to target a Government White Paper due out in October. This paper, says AUS executive director Rob Crozier, will pave the way for the following:

Bilingual designation of award relevant

The acknowledgment in the June, 1998 edition of the Bulletin of our having bestowed the prestigious Prix Nicole Raymond Award on professor Claude Dionne is greatly appreciated.

Law assures confidentiality

John Lowman's and Ted Palys' article in the Bulletin (June), "When Research Ethics & the Law Conflict" should be of great interest to researchers in the social sciences in general, and criminology in particular.

Ethics/law conflict revisited

Professor Stenning's misunderstanding issues from his quoting the first part of the SFU informed consent statement out of context. The statement also says, "as a result of legal action, the researcher may be required to divulge information obtained in the course of this research to a court or other legal body." All the commentary we have seen reveals a profound irony in the common law relating to confidentiality. By implying that you will violate a court order to protect confidentiality (i.e., you guarantee unlimited confidentiality like Russel Ogden did), the greater the likelihood a court will recognize that a communication is privileged. The SFU consent statement is disastrous when it comes to employing the Wigmore test to protect confidential information, because it makes it clear that unlimited confidentiality is not being offered. In these circumstances, the court could just say, "The information was not confidential because you told the research participant a court might require it, and a court now requires it, ergo no privilege is recognised."

Poor choice of words

The Bulletin (June) opens with the headline "University Gets Back at Retired Professor." In fact, it was not the university that got back at him. It was the administration via its board of regents, as the account makes clear.

Alberta Appeal Court Rules in Favour of Faculty

The Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of faculty in a recent case concerning membership in the bargaining unit. The details are complex and a bit unusual because Alberta's post-secondary institutions are not governed by standard labour legislation, but by labour legislation-type provisions embedded in various acts governing universities, public colleges and technical institutes.

Digital Diploma Mills - The Coming Battle Over Online Instruction

Tensions are rapidly mounting today between faculty and university administrations over the high tech commercialization of higher education. During the last two decades campus commercialization centered upon the research function of the universities, but it has now shifted to the core instructional function, the heart and soul of academia. In both cases the primary commercial impulse has come from nonacademic forces, industrial corporations seeking indirect public subsidy of their research needs and private vendors of instructional hardware, software, and content looking for subsidized product development and a potentially lucrative market for their wares. In both cases also, there has been a fundamental transformation of the nature of academic work and the relationship between higher educational institutions and their faculty employees. With the commoditization of instruction, this transformation of academia is now reaching the breaking point.

Adjudicator Finds Flawed Procedures at Waterloo

An adjudicator looking into the handling of a racism complaint against a university professor has made an important decision about academic freedom and the necessity for universities having and following good complaint procedures.

Case Update - Partial Victory in Bavaria Case

A partial victory has been achieved in an academic freedom and tenure case involving the University of Augsburg, in the German state of Bavaria, according to Pat O'Neill, chair of CAUT's Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee.

The Insidious Attack on Academic Freedom

Perhaps the most insidious presupposition in the growing attack on tenure at Canadian universities is the widely-held conviction that academic freedom is not, could never be, at risk in Canada.

The State of the University

Academic Duty is a thorough and insightful discussion about the state of the American university system which offers a great deal that is relevant to the Canadian one. Kennedy was a professor, then president of Stanford University, then a professor again. These perspectives seem to have resulted in a balanced viewpoint on the enterprise, which he unites in chapters on different aspects of it.