Nominations for spring 2019 valedictorians closed on March 4. Interviews with the selection committee are taking place until March 29, with decisions releasing in early April.
In total, the spring 2019 convocation will consist of 11 valedictorians, one for each convocation ceremony, with representation from McMaster University’s different faculties and programs.
Historically, the valedictorian is the student with the highest ranking amongst their graduating class, where highest ranking is determined by grade point average. This student is expected to deliver a closing statement at their graduation ceremony.
While valedictorians are still required to deliver a farewell remark, the definition has greatly changed. According to the McMaster Students Union, valedictorians are graduating students who “best represents the student community at McMaster University.”
In regards to grades, valedictorians are only required to have an average of at least 7.0 in their last academic year, or as their cumulative average.
While this definition does not appear to be problematic, and in fact makes the title more inclusive, the selection process for valedictorians does not reflect this positive change.
To be nominated for valedictorian, students must complete a lengthy valedictorian nomination package. This includes signatures from at least three members of the graduating student’s respective faculty, a two-page letter outlining why the student is best suited for the valedictorian title, a copy of their curriculum vitae or resume and two letters of reference, one academic and one work or volunteer related.
The requirements of this package already discriminates against students who do not have the time to thoroughly complete it. Especially considering the horrible job the MSU did in advertising valedictorian nominations, many students did not have time to complete their applications despite the nomination period opening on Jan. 28.
One of the largest issue with Mac’s valedictorian process is the selection committee itself. While the committee is comprised of both faculty and students, the student representation on the committee is severely lacking.
According to the valediction information package, the student representation consists of students from the Student Representative Assembly and MSU members appointed by the MSU vice president (Education).
Although this means that the selection committee may contain students from the graduating class, the seats on the selection committee were also poorly advertised.
The poor advertising for seats on the selection committee and the actual nomination period does nothing but perpetuate a cycle of only individuals within the MSU bubble being aware and taking advantage of these opportunities.
It makes no sense why faculty members especially are allowed to determine who best represents students. Even the few selected students on the selection committee are not a good representation of the student community, but rather, a representation of those few already involved in the MSU.
If the university truly wanted to elect valedictorians who best represents the student community at McMaster, and not just the MSU bubble, they would allow the graduating student community to vote for their representative through an election.
If an election were to occur, students would have the opportunity to pick who they’d like to have speak at their convocation. Students could run based on whatever merits they feel they possess, rather than those arbitrarily set out by the selection committee.
Perhaps the winning valedictorian isn’t the most “involved” student, but their actions and character make them somebody that their fellow peers opt to vote-in.
As it stands, the selection committee for valedictorian focuses on “McMaster and/or community involvement”, which is listed as involvement in student groups, student support, student government and community involvement. Of the listed examples, almost all have some relation to the MSU.
Being valedictorian shouldn’t equate to being the ideal and involved MSU member. It should, as their definition states, be an accurate reflection of the diverse student community at McMaster.
Beyond the title and delivering a five-minute speech at convocation, valedictorians don’t receive anything. Personally, I don’t see the point of having valedictorians. It’s pretty much impossible to have a single student be truly representative of their entire faculty.
But if the university wishes to keep the tradition, they ought to do a better job of ensuring that whoever gets the accolade is supported by the graduating class.
By: Nicolas Belliveau
The news in November 2018 that Doug Ford and his provincial government were ceasing the project to build a French-language university in Toronto and eliminating the position of the provincial commissioner for French language affairs was met with backlash.
However, situations like these aren’t novel. French education and culture have been the target of marginalization for hundreds of years. Ford adds to this long list of discriminatory acts, as his decision to cut services and protections to Franco-Ontarians has underlying anti-francophone sentiment and is a violation of minority language rights in Canada.
But why should we care about this? After all, with just over 620,000 people, the French-speaking community in Ontario makes up just 4.5 per cent of its total population.
Growing up French-Canadian in Ontario, practicing and maintaining the language my ancestors tirelessly fought to preserve has proven difficult. Additionally, the limited number of French secondary schools meant that I had to enroll at an English secondary school — adding to the challenge of keeping my mother tongue.
However, Francophones are still Canada’s largest minority with Ontario home to the most populous French-speaking community outside of Quebec. But most importantly, the French language is a right that is protected by the Constitution and language laws.
This didn’t come easily. Throughout all of Canada’s history, francophones have fought for the right to French education and with Ford’s new agenda, the battle appears to be ongoing.
Merely a century ago, the provincial government passed and enforced Regulation 17 throughout Ontario, which restricted the teachings in French beyond grade 2 and limited French teachings to one hour per day in primary schools. After 15 years of enforcement and prohibiting a whole generation from learning French, the law was finally repealed in 1927.
By ending the project for the development of a French university, Ford is reopening a door into the past that most French-Canadians thought was over. The ideology that once disregarded Franco-Ontarians’ identity and equality is now resurfacing, under the new disguise of Ford’s policies.
And what is Ford’s reasoning behind these radical changes? Although Ford has yet to comment on the matter, government officials have cited the province’s $15 billion deficit as being the motivation for these cost-cutting actions.
However, the cost for the French Language Services Commissioner and the university tally up to a total of just $15 million per year. And as of now, Ford’s government has yet to meet the targeted amount of savings, leaving experts to question whether a thorough program review was carried out.
When looking at these realities, it is hard to believe the government’s narrative of the provincial deficit being the sole incentive for premier Ford’s changes, and not worry about an anti-francophone sentiment underlying Ford’s fiscal agenda.
What’s more unsettling is that Ford’s new policy changes cuts into Canada’s Constitution and the protections and rights of French-Canadians.
The functions of a language commissioner prove to be essential in promoting and protecting a language. Not only do they monitor the government for any infringements upon minority language rights, the French language commissioner acts as a liaison between the provincial government and Franco-Ontarians.
By getting rid of the French Language Services Commissioner, Ford is destabilizing the rights and protections of minority francophones and undermining the institutions that promote one of the ‘supposed’ official languages of this country.
I acknowledge that Ontario is already home to three bilingual universities and that the francophone minorities account for just 4.5 per cent of Ontario’s population. Additionally, I acknowledged that the Ford government has created the position of senior policy adviser on francophone affairs following the elimination of the French Language Services Commissioner.
The realities of the mistreatment of francophones throughout history along with the benefits of the French services and protections that Ford is eliminating would make it illogical for one to not consider this as anti-francophone sentiment. To be idle while the government carelessly partakes in these divisive political tactics is a disservice to our ancestors and to all minorities.
Over the last two years, Halima Al-Hatimy, a former McMaster University public health grad student, has launched multiple Ontario human rights complaints against McMaster and Hamilton Health Sciences.
She also has legal proceedings against McMaster officials Patrick Deane, Wanda McKenna, Sarah Dickson, Glenn De Caire, Joseph Zubek and constables Tyler Rogers and Peter Broz.
Al-Hatimy’s issues with the university first materialized in 2017, before her anticipated departure to Ghana with “Waters Without Borders,” a program facilitated through a partnership between McMaster and the United Nations University.
The day before Al-Hatimy was expected to leave, the university informed her that she had been taken out of the program’s trip as a result of her presumed plan to bring medicinal marijuana overseas.
Thirteen days later, Al-Hatimy filed a human rights complaint against McMaster and the UNU.
“The administration asked me to sign an affidavit saying that I wouldn’t take medicinal cannabis with me illegally. It was riddled with criminalizing language, telling me that I had to promise I wasn’t going to traffic, import, export or illegally purchase illicit drugs or substances. I was traumatized by the experience,” she said.
Al-Hatimy is firmly convinced the university discriminated against her on the basis of “race, age, disability and use of medicinal cannabis.”
Thus far into the proceedings, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has affirmed Sarah Dickson’s involvement in the case but cut out the UNU and David Wilkinson, McMaster provost and vice-president (Academic).
Al-Hatimy said the university has been “extremely aggressive and uncooperative” over the past year.
In particular, according to Al-Hatimy, McMaster’s campus-wide smoking ban instituted in 2017 directly tore away her demand that the university construct a medical cannabis policy to protect users on campus.
Since launching her complaint, Al-Hatimy also filed for reprisal and organized two anti-smoking ban protests, one off-campus and the other in the Health Sciences Building.
“Both times, I was racially carded. The police showed up and walked straight to me. The guy beside me was white and smoking his medical cannabis. At the time, they didn’t know he was a licensed user. They just saw an older man and a younger student with a megaphone. You’d think they’d card him first, but they carded me,” she said.
When walking in the McMaster University Student Centre on another occasion, she said she was harassed by Joseph Zubek, the senior manager of McMaster security services.
“He showed me pictures that he had of me on his phone. He said they started an investigative police file on me,” she said.
In addition to lodging human rights complaints, Al-Hatimy has launched an application for reprisal for three counts of racial profiling, intimidation and harassment.
Upon entering the impending proceedings, Al-Hatimy said she feels hopeful.
“I have a strong case, I have evidence in my favour. I have witnesses. I’ve connected with other students who have also been bullied by the university and I have evidence of their stories that I’ll be presenting to the tribunal,” she said.
Gord Arbeau, the communications director at McMaster University, told the Silhouette that McMaster is committed to being inclusive, respectful and harassment-free.
“The university’s policies and procedures support this commitment, including providing medical accommodations to members of the community,” said Arbeau, on behalf of the university’s respondents in the proceedings.
On March 29, Al-Hatimy and McMaster officials will attend a case management conference that will consolidate her applications. From there, cases will be combined and a hearing will be scheduled.
If you browsed through social media on Jan. 30, chances are you saw #BellLetsTalk circulating around. Political leaders, celebrities, corporations and even McMaster University shared the hashtag in support of “ending the stigma” around mental illness.
— McMaster University (@McMasterU) January 30, 2019
But like #BellLetsTalk, McMaster’s mental health initiatives seem more performative than anything else. While offering “self-care” tips and hour-long therapy dog sessions can help students de-stress and perhaps initiate conversations about mental health, it alone is not sufficient.
This sentiment is shared amongst many other students and has been brought up time after time. It is truly disheartening then that the university seems to do little to meaningfully address students’ concerns.
Instead of investing in more counsellors at the Student Wellness Centre or restructuring their support systems on campus, starting Feb.4, McMaster is running Thrive Week. Thrive Week is a week-long initiative aimed to “explore [students’] path to mental health”. The week boasts events including yoga, Zumba and meditation circles.
There is no doubt that engaging in wellness and mindfulness activities, including activities like yoga and Zumba, can help alleviate some of the stresses of university and can positively benefit your mental health.
However, it is in itself not enough to actually help students overcome mental health issues. McMaster acknowledges that most students seem to experience, at least during some point in their undergraduate career, mental health issues. This is telling of a systemic issue. Mental health issues are largely attributable to socioeconomic factors. Financial strain, food insecurity and lack of a responsive administration can all factor into developing mental health issues as a student.
The best way to help students is to address the root of the problem, which often lies within the very structures of the university. Until McMaster addresses these systemic issues, yoga classes and wellness panels will do little to remedy students’ concerns.
Beyond addressing systemic issues, students struggling with mental health issues can’t colour their issues away; they require professional help. It is true that the university offers trained peer-support volunteers at services like the Student Health Education Centre and the Women Gender and Equity Network, but again, this is not enough. The responsibility of students’ mental health should not fall on the shoulders of other students.
If the university truly cared about their students’ mental health, they would invest in more counsellors and actively work towards ensuring that waiting times at SWC aren’t months on end. They would make systems for receiving academic accommodations more accessible, as they currently require students to provide documentation of diagnosed mental health issues.
Talk is cheap. So are free Zumba classes. While raising awareness and reducing the stigma around mental is important, what students need is real change to ensure there are actual support systems on campus. The university has a responsibility to make that change happen.
By: Jordan Graber
There tends to be a certain amount of stereotyped differences between the two programs, which seem to exist in the shadow of science, technology, engineering and math programs. This creates issues with equal representation for programs at McMaster and career opportunities for students’ experiential development. STEM faculties seem to gather more attention and interest than their artistic counterparts.
As a humanities student, whenever I get the question, “What kind of job can you get with that?”, it is upsetting to have to repeat the same response. This question might be a product of the perceived levels of difficulty within different programs which seems to define the kinds of people who might reside in each program. However, it is this exact perception that creates minimal representation for students who are not STEM majors.
Humanities programs are often perceived to be “easier” than STEM programs and are given less respect in terms of faculty representation on campus.
In no way am I trying to discriminate against the STEM faculties, as these programs lead to important careers that will create a change in society. However, other faculties deserve to be commended for their dedication to careers that are not valued as much as others.
Ultimately, it is not for others to decide which faculty or program will define one’s personal enjoyment or success. Discrimination amongst majors is a growing problem and needs to be addressed, as it essentially degrades one’s expectations of the future.
This is an issue in many universities and this trope has been adopted somewhat unanimously. While the STEM programs are extremely important to the progression of society, there is also equal importance in the majors associated with the arts. Despite this knowledge, there continues to be the association that one is inferior to the other. This assumption makes things more difficult for students in humanities, social science or related faculties, especially considering that we are just starting out and have a fraction of a clue of what we’re doing.
Ultimately, it is not for others to decide which faculty or program will define one's personal enjoyment or success.
The stereotype that discusses the differences between faculties does tend to be displayed through college and university events such as career fairs, as shown in the one that was held last week. On Feb. 1, Mac participated in another career fair for students looking to find opportunities to gain career-oriented experience. The fair was meant to provide opportunities for all interest and all needs, including internships, co-ops, summer positions, part-time positions and even full-time opportunities. This was meant to give students insight to where their degrees would take them in the future, as well as open doors to finding career related work experience in Hamilton. However, upon attendance, it seemed that most of the companies that attended were STEM-related, unless you are a post-grad who is looking to teach in Taiwan. As a student in humanities, I find that the lack of equitable faculty representation to be rather unfair.
As one of the main outlets to find jobs during the summer break, it should be ensured that these career events hold a diverse number of options for all faculties to ensure that students are proud of whatever program they choose to represent.
As this career fair was not a faculty specific one as some faculties have, equitable representation and opportunities were expected. Though the Student Success Centre attempts to provide work-related opportunities for all students, McMaster needs to do better in making all programs feel equipped for the future and valued as students.
By: Ubah Ahmed
Content warning: this article contains a racial slur.
Wayne Welsh, an average American father of three, was an assistant police chief in his hometown of Estherwood Los Angelos, a small town where everyone knows everyone and news travels fast. Recently, Welsh liked and reposted a picture on Facebook of a mother drowning her daughter in the bathtub, captioned “When your daughter’s first crush is a little Negro boy.” To this, his response was, “It’s not against [the law] if you share stuff on Facebook. It’s [sic] social media. Internet.”
Welsh’s response is an example of an important conversation that is reigniting today: can hateful or discriminatory comments made on personal accounts be a considered an offense if it is still a means of free speech? The lines between personal and public are becoming inconsistent. With the rise of social media and the internet, it’s no longer enough to claim your opinions belong only to you when you are in constant contact with individuals who may be vulnerable to hurtful comments. You can’t make offensive comments directed at certain groups of people for the whole world to see and not expect repercussions because of free speech. Free speech doesn’t mean speech without consequence.
Spotted at Mac is an example of this. What started off as anonymous Facebook page used by the McMaster community to send communal positivity and support is now doing quite the opposite. A recent post on the page about a guy who was “spouting transphobic and misogynistic garbage in Thode… and then whining ‘poor me, I’m a nice guy’” is an example of the offence that can be caused by commenting freely in public.
The comments, some now deleted, were a mess. Between the people who took it as a joke, those who tried to rationally and logically explain why the student in Thode was correct and those who liked those comments, it became clear that a lot of people are not afraid and unapologetic to share their hate in a very public manner. This is not okay, and responsibility needs to be taken into account whether it is in public or not.
These individuals don’t leave their hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic beliefs and views at home. When posting online, one must be considerate of those who may take offence to certain comments, and who should not have to be subject to hurtful commentary.
Spotted at Mac is an example of this. What started off as anonymous Facebook page used by the McMaster community to send communal positivity and support is now doing quite the opposite.
It’s not something they check at the door and then manage to treat individuals they inherently see as less than them with the respect they deserve. They’re rooted deep within and when the people tasked with your protection see you as nothing more than a stereotype, caricatures, you get a world where a cop, Greg Abbott, can tell a nervous white woman stopped for a traffic violation, “But you’re not black. Remember, we only shoot black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right?”
Estherwood Police Chief Ernest Villejoin’s response to Welsh was: “When I found out about it, I couldn’t believe I had to call him… I know Wayne didn’t do this on purpose. He didn’t do this [to] offend anybody.” It is a great privilege to be able to claim that one “didn’t do it on purpose” when referencing a grown man’s decision to repost an offensive and vile picture when that man himself sees no issue with it.
Just because something is on the internet, does not make it free from the standard we hold to all other human interaction. Scott Woods, an activist and psychologist, famously said “The problem is that people racism [and its manifestations] as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that.
Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not.”
Inequality is so ingrained in our society in its many different forms and manifestations that it will find its way into all your interactions until we begin to become more aware of its existence and actively work to rid our society of its iron grasp.
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By: Ismaël Traoré
As Black History Month approaches I am troubled at the lack of institutional reflexivity and the talk-and-shake-my-head event model that will mark this twenty-first year of commemorating bougie-Blackness. There will be a few panel discussions, public forums, workshops and film viewings where audience members will show shock at the following cliché messages: a) racism exists b) White privilege is real and c) [insert wise comment about] ‘incremental steps’ towards progress. If lucky, we may also learn about the three holy grails of being a White ally: shut up, listen and educate other White people.
This seasonal prepackaged mass production of BHM activities at McMaster is mainly for White people and the majority of the events are organized with the White gaze in mind.
Events tend to reflect respectability politics, an ethic of politeness that reinforces Whiteness by virtue of Whites defining the contours of a ‘polite’ racial discourse, and efforts to prevent potential backlash or ‘White fragility’. We are afraid to disturb this White-dominated institution.
Even in groups and activities created to replace racism with racial equity, Whiteness remains intact.
Here is a cursory list of the workings of Whiteness I have observed at McMaster that limits the scope and breadth of its commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Students, staff, faculty and the administration must be vigilant to not let Whiteness be the logic or reference-point guiding their racial equity work. Such is the only way to pay homage to BHM.
Here are six things to avoid when talking about racial equity during BHM:
1. Loving the word: Declarations of commitment to inclusion and diversity do not inclusion and diversity make. Being against racism does not indicate transcendence of racism. Equity is love in action. We must love to act.
2. Lack of priority and urgency: Racial equity is a peripheral concern for the stakeholders-powerbrokers at the university. Can you believe that it is only last year that the Sociology department hired its first non-white faculty? This explains the incremental, sluggish nature of racial equity. Barely any resources go to racial equity. Racial equity should be one of our top priorities.
3. Outsourcing the work and taking credit: The administration of the university has a tendency to take credit for the often unpaid antiracist labour of individuals and groups in the university that often have no real power beyond advising and awareness-rising. Administration should do the work.
4. External and downwards orientation: Racial equity work in the university often focuses on the student body, faculty, and the general Hamilton community. This is “external and downwards” in that the powerbrokers and stakeholders of the university are often not the intended target of this work and rarely do they come even when invited. Plus, the university is infrequently the subject of critique and change-making. We need an internal and upward orientation.
5. Event as opposed to project oriented: We need less emphasis on the event-based approach and more emphasis on long-term institutional change projects. Faculties should recognize social justice work in their curriculum and hiring criteria. Lakehead University and the University of Winnipeg students must now take a course in Indigenous Studies to graduate. Why not McMaster University?
6. Lack of transparency: Mainly for economic reasons, the university is invested in portraying itself as nonracist. It is hard to find documents and data about the university regarding racism, racial diversity, and racial equity. Hiding behind obscurity prevents genuine progress by creating institutional historical amnesia, fostering selective representation, and hindering grounded and levelheaded critique, assessment, and appraisal. Documents regarding these variables must be made public and user-friendly.
All in all, McMaster is at the “tolerant stage” of its development. It is “tolerant” of racial and cultural differences at the surface, such as the student body, but at the centre, the powerbrokers and stakeholders, it remains White. Though the President’s Office makes public commitment to inclusion and diversity and generously sponsors events on racial equity there needs to be a systematic assessment of its organizational culture, policies, and decision-making processes. There is an unintended paternalism in its tolerant approach that takes the form of “helping” the marginalized rather than turning the investigative gaze on McMaster’s Whiteness.
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If you have a Netflix account — or like myself, shamelessly log in to a friend’s — you have probably heard of the series Making a Murderer. I was told to watch it because, and I quote, “you will never be more likely to yell at your computer screen." As someone who frequently directs angry outbursts towards her laptop, I was intrigued.
For those who don’t know, the show is a documentary series about a man named Steven Avery and his dubious relationship with his local police department in Wisconsin. The series provides a pretty compelling case that law enforcement framed Avery for rape and murder. The show is gripping. Kudos to Netflix for making what should be boring material fascinating; there are not many things that could convince me to voluntarily sit through hours of court proceedings. While watching I did indeed direct some choice words towards my computer.
I was not alone in my rage. The hashtag #FreeSteveAvery exploded on Twitter, I’ve seen Tinder bios include people’s passionate feelings about the case, and an acquaintance posted a photo on Facebook of them holding a sign reading “Steve Avery is innocent!” at a hockey game. So if the Avery case has forced us to admit that maybe — just maybe — we have systematic failings in our criminal justice system, then why aren’t we able to admit that race may also play a part?
When talking about law enforcement we should be keeping the Black Lives Matter movement in mind, especially when discussing police misconduct. As of last month, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported that Black inmates made up 37.8 percent of America’s prison population, but only 13.2 percent of the general population. Don’t let yourself believe this is only an American problem. According to Statistics Canada, Indigenous adults represented 26 percent of those taken into custody in 2013 and 2014 while making up only three percent of the population. This is not due to a higher number of Black or Indigenous people committing crimes, but instead flaws in our social and judicial systems that perpetuate systemic racism.
Steve Avery is White, which is not to say that he did not have barriers between him and a just trial. Avery comes from an impoverished family and has an IQ of 70. Throughout the series he is acutely aware of the constraints he faces due to class. The problem is that while his story is a compelling example of the miscarriage of justice, he is not unique. His case is not even the only preposterous high profile example of police and judicial misconduct in recent memory. In 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted for shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. In 2014 a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer that held Eric Garner in an illegal chokehold until he died. In 2015, a grand jury elected not to issue an indictment in connection to the death of Sandra Bland, a woman who died in jail — allegedly a suicide — after being pulled over for failing to signal when changing lanes. If there are countless examples of People of Colour being mistreated by the police and the courts, many of which are just as scandalous or more so than Avery’s case, then why is Making a Murderer about a white man, someone who is statistically underrepresented in American jails?
The answer is that we are much more comfortable relating to, pardoning, and fighting for White criminals, fictional or not. We love our Walter Whites, our Peaky Blinders, our Sopranos, our Boardwalk Empires, our Deadpools, and so on. We aren’t even that concerned if our dubious heroes are less savoury characters. Making a Murderer shows Steven Avery’s disturbing letters to his ex-wife, threatening her with violence, but we forgive him because we are invested in a very specific narrative: a White man being the victim of a miscarriage of justice who deserved better.
So if the Avery case has forced us to admit that maybe — just maybe — we have systematic failings in our criminal justice system, then why aren’t we able to admit that race may also play a part?
Next month is Black History Month, and it would be foolish of us to assume that our work regarding racism is done. It is uncomfortable to think that the people we have been told will protect us — officers, lawyers and judges — may not be as unbiased as we would like to believe. However, if we are willing to defend Steven Avery then we should without hesitation stand up for the Trayvon Martins, the Eric Garners, and the Sandra Blands in our midst.
Five professors in the DeGroote School of Business have been handed “lengthy suspensions without pay” by the University after a tribunal of their peers found their misconduct resulted in a “poisonous and hostile work environment.”
In 2011, two complaints of harassment were filed by and against faculty in McMaster’s business school.
An anti-discrimination tribunal set up to address the complaints recently released its 26-page public report. The report summarizes the tribunal’s findings after two years of proceedings, 2694 documents and testimonies from 65 witnesses.
In the first complaint, five faculty members filed a harassment complaint against a senior administrator and McMaster University.In the second complaint, seven faculty members and one staff alleged that six faculty members, including four who filed the first complaint, harassed them. One counter-complaint was filed against one of the initiators of the second complaint.
A tribunal, made up of three tenured McMaster professors, was commissioned to hear the complaints. They found that several professors committed “serious and multiple” acts of misconduct.
“The most egregious misconduct involved the unlawful and self-serving interference with tenure and promotion,” according to the public report.
“Permanent removal was a remedy seriously considered for some of the individuals. In the end, it was not determined to be necessary,” the tribunal stated, as the University allowed some delays in the process and certain decisions by a “non-party senior administrator” also contributed to the workplace hostility.
The tribunal recommended that three professors should have “lengthy suspensions without pay, benefits, privileges or access to the University’s premises.” It was recommended that two other professors also be suspended, but for a shorter period of time. One other individual will receive a written reprimand.
The identities of the suspended professors have not been disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement. The tribunal did not specify how long the suspensions should last.
McMaster president Patrick Deane issued a statement calling the “complexity and number” of the complaints “unprecedented” at the University.
Deane stated that he “fully accepts the Tribunal’s findings” and has “already begun the process of implementing the recommended sanctions and other remedies.”
Following the release of the tribunal’s report, three business classes were cancelled this week.
McMaster spokesperson Andrea Farquhar said the department is working to ensure all classes are up and running again by next week.
“[The School of Business] has been successful in finding a number of well-qualified instructors,” Farquhar said, to temporarily take over from the suspended professors.
“It will certainly be a priority for us to minimize impact on students,” she said.
The tribunal dismissed allegations against the senior administrator accused of harassment and abusing his power.
The tribunal also found there was no “direct harassment or malicious behaviour” on the part of the University. However, it stated that University must “accept some responsibility” for the unacceptable workplace environment and review its anti-discrimination policy. The tribunal recommended sensitivity training for the reprimanded professors.
The complaints were filed a year after former business dean Paul Bates resigned. Bates stepped down amid disputes among the faculty and claims of bullying. Some believed he was not a qualified academic as he had industry experience but no university degree, while others defended him. The issue created a rift between business school faculty.
Bates, who was not specifically named in the tribunal’s report, still works at McMaster as a special advisor to the president.
Since the tribunal began investigating the complaints two years ago, proceedings have been kept out of the public eye.
Farquhar said it was necessary to protect the identities of the university employees involved in the complaints.
Individual sanctions have taken effect immediately while other recommendations will be gradually enforced.
“There are some recommendations on reviewing the [anti-discrimination] policy, for instance, and some sensitivity training – that takes a little bit of time to implement. The policy will go to the Senate,” she said.
A movement called “Bringing an End to Facultyphobia,” initially spawned by reactions to a Silhouette Opinions article condemning Kipling Pranks as discriminatory, quickly picked up momentum in preparation for an inter-faculty event on April 3.
But the event was not to be.
Zachary Strong, Engineering student and Facebook event creator, explained how health and safety problems prevented the actual event from occurring. He hopes for a physical, planned event during the week of April 8.
“It looks like the event is going to remain nebulous. It may not happen the way we envisioned it, but the level of discussion is there, so it’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Issue has been taken with the description of faculty stereotyping as a type of phobia. David Campbell, MSU VP (Administration), felt that “phobia is a bit overstated, simply because I think it compares it with homophobia and racial issues which go a lot deeper and have a lot of context to them.” Strong admits that this may not be the ideal word to describe the actions and behavior he has experienced or heard about second-hand.
The initial Facebook event referenced ending “Engphobia,” but it was later renamed “Facultyphobia” in order to include the wide body of students who may feel discriminated against or mistreated on the basis of their faculty.
Strong reiterated that he was intent on reaching out to other faculties, and dismissed the idea that this was an Engineering-specific phenomenon or that Engineering students would be a majority of the participants in the “End Facultyphobia” event.
The McMaster Engineering Society issued a statement on their Facebook account announcing that they had chosen to distance themselves from the End Facultyphobia movement, despite recognizing and appreciating the need to break down faculty stigmas.
“We feel it has grown out of hand and is turning out to be quite the opposite of the initial intentions to shed a positive light on our University and its faculties. We absolutely love the idea of a University wide event that fosters the growth and relationships between students. We don’t, however, think this is the proper venue or time to do so,” said the statement.
Campbell explained that while he appreciated the importance of starting inter-faculty dialogue, he believed there has been a continued decrease in faculty tension in the last few years.
Both Campbell and Strong specifically pinpointed Welcome Week as the primary vehicle for building and breaking down faculty stereotypes.
“From the planning perspective, it was a specific topic of discussion during training for faculty reps. Planners specifically discussed how cheers degrading a faculty help no one,” said Campbell.
But Strong has asserted that there is an absence of one forum for all faculties to report incidents of stereotyping. Part of his goal is for students to complete an online survey to share their experiences. The results of this survey will be compiled and sent to faculty societies and the Student Success Centre.
When asked if he felt airing these stereotypes could do more harm then good, perpetuating and introducing new stereotypes, Strong argued that, “Ultimately, the alternative is isolation, and that doesn't really help either, so there is a risk. But would we be any better off if everyone just stayed away and did their own thing? I would say no.”