Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Acadia University investigation of professor intensifies campus free-speech debate

His comments, which include statements arguing a gender pay gap doesn’t exist, that multiculturalism is a sham and that decolonization is a scam, have resulted in personal and sexual harassment complaints from students

A small-town university in Atlantic Canada has been thrust into the epicentre of a national debate about free speech on campus, amid new allegations a controversial professor has made "racist and transphobic comments" in class.

Critics and supporters of associate professor Rick Mehta have come forward after Acadia University in Nova Scotia launched an investigation following complaints from students, faculty and others about his polarizing views.

A group of Canadian professors dedicated to the defence of academic freedom have condemned the Acadia probe, while Mehta's designated department head says some students at the Wolfville school say they have stopped attending his class because of his comments.

Margaret Wente: You can't say that on campus

The outspoken psychology scholar has made comments about a range of contentious issues including decolonization, immigration, and gender politics.

While his defenders say his voice is an antidote to political correctness run amok, his critics say he attacks marginalized people and perpetuate harmful stereotypes. The situation has exposed the challenge facing universities of balancing the open exchange of ideas with the responsibility of keeping students safe and supported.

Mark Mercer, president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, said in a letter Friday that Mehta's views may be unpopular but they do not constitute an attack on anyone.

"I have read many of Dr. Mehta's postings and it is difficult to see how anything in them could be construed as discriminatory or harassing," he said in the letter to Acadia's vice-president academic, Heather Hemming. "If Dr. Mehta's ideas are false or pernicious, they could be shown to be so through discussion and better ideas."

Mercer, professor and chair of the philosophy department at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, added in an email that the investigation is a "frontal assault on academic freedom" and warned that investigating a professor for the content of his opinions would cast a chill over campus debates.

Other professors have also spoken out against the investigation, as well as changes to Mehta's teaching allocation assigning him smaller courses.



Anonymous said...

Normal people should not have to adjust to those with twisted minds.

Bird of Paradise said...

Liberals can often be the most intollerent people around look at how they try and shout down conservative speakers