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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2015

Inquiry finds Brock infringed academic freedom

A fact-finding investigation into Brock University’s handling of a series of complaints under its Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy has found the university did not live up to its responsibility to protect and support academic freedom and the principles of natural justice.

In a report released last month, the ad hoc investi­gatory committee appointed by CAUT calls on Brock’s president and vice-chancellor Jack Lightstone to apologize to the in­dividuals subjected to procedures that, “not only failed to comply with the principles of natural justice, but also infringed the academic freedom and free speech rights of the respondents.”

The case arose when several academic staff members and graduate students criticized Brock’s involvement in Solidarity Experiences Abroad, a program offering students learning placements in South America and Africa, and organized through the university’s Catholic chaplaincy. In response, Brock’s Catholic chaplain and acting chaplain filed complaints of alleged bullying and harassing behaviour on the part of the academic staff members and students.

Among other findings, the committee report recommends that respectful workplace policies, which have proliferated in recent years, must ensure academic freedom and free expression are not compromised.