Monday, January 23, 2012

In Which the University Stonewalls

It had been 9:00 on Monday morning when I had been escorted off the premises by the Vice Principal of Gordon Bell. At the end of the day I received a very short note informing me simply that my practicum had been terminated, and in response to my request for clarification of my status, I was further informed on the following day, rather ominously, that my file had now been "transferred to the Registrar's Office". As to who the Registrar was, or what he was doing with my file, the Education Faculty was apparently content to let me sit and stew.

There was nothing to do but persist: I wrote back again, asking what was going on:

Hi Deb

I have a couple of questions about my status; if you cannot answer them I
hope you will tell me whom I should ask. I don't exactly understand what you
mean when you say my file has been transferred to the UW Registrar. I have
assumed I am still a student in good standing within the faculty. Therefore
I am wondering:

1. What will the Faculty of Education be doing anything to find me an
alternative placement so I can get credit for my practicum?

2. Will I be provided with written reasons as to why Gordon Bell requested
my removal from the school?

3. Can you confirm that I am still a student in good standing, and as such
what steps will I need to take in order to complete the requirements of my


This letter was sent out at 12:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday. I am sure you would like to know how the Department replied to this correspondence. If you can put yourself in my shoes for a moment, perhaps you can appreciate that I was quite urgently interested in getting an informative reply. However, at the time, the University in its wisdom felt it was appropriate to keep me waiting until 3:30 on Wednesday before giving me an answer, and for those of you following this story at home, that's also how long you're going to have to wait to hear what they said.

In the meantime, you might be wondering if I blame Deb Woloshyn for the way I was treated during those very difficult three days. The fact is Deb had always treated me quite well up to that point, and it is inconceivable that she could have been acting on her own in this matter. There can be no doubt that the precise timing and wording of her responses to me would have been carefully controlled by the Dean's office: she would have merely been given the role of spokesperson.

On the other hand, as a thinking feeling human being, she cannot possibly have felt that I was being handled fairly, and by putting her name to the correspondence, she was effectively endorsing the treatment I was being given, even if she was only following the Dean's orders. I like to think that if I were in her position, and the Dean were telling me how to answer a student who was in a similar position, I would  have told the Dean that I had a duty to the student to be as informative as possible: if the Dean told me that I was to tell the student exactly what the Dean wanted him to know, I would hope that I would have had the integrity to tell the Dean to find someone else to do his dirty work. Don't we have tenure in place to guarantee academics that they can act with integrity without fear of retribution? Or is tenure just an expensive perk written into the union contract to guarantee job security?

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