U of C censures students for criticizing prof on Facebook, runs into Charter challenge

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pookie

Hi Sven (long time!)

My concerns about the "state actor" doctrine (to use the US term) are set out in post #2 above. Interestingly, the one appellate judge who found that the Charter did apply did not do so mainly on the basis of the government function test but on a separate strand of the case law based on an entity being entrusted with coercive statutory powers.

I remain torn about the answer I would most like to see to this question.

My earlier comments about sexism and racism were based on my understanding that the professor in question in a racialized woman (who also is married to a woman).  They were systemic in nature and not tied to any individual student.  

That said, I believe this case is better dealt with under administrative law, and having read the record in this case and accepting it at face value i do think that U of C's discplinary decisions against THESE two students were misguided in their severity and failure to provide adequate reasons (as well as denying the internal right to an appeal).

 

abnormal

For those of you that have never seen it you might want to check out

www.ratemyprofessors.com

You'll probably have to change the country to Canada but it's an easy enough matter to find the ratings on this prof.  Uniformly "the worst professor I've ever had" - while I don't agree with some of the reasons given it's pretty clear that students think this is not someone that you want to have teaching you.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Yes, the 8 fastidious students who don't like getting bad marks using an anonymous website are pretty much a flawless benchmark by which to judge "this woman with roots in health care" who dared teach a course on law.

Professor deeply hurt by student's evaluation

abnormal

Catchfire wrote:

Yes, the 8 fastidious students who don't like getting bad marks using an anonymous website are pretty much a flawless benchmark by which to judge "this woman with roots in health care" who dared teach a course on law.

Professor deeply hurt by student's evaluation

That's not the point - the fact is that this site exists as well and, if you're going to pick on students for criticisms on Facebook, you should go after this site as well and at least shut it down.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I mentioned ratemyprofessors.com in my first post noting that curious choice. Of course, I see nothing of that argument in your last post--it reads like you want to establish once and for all that Dr. Mitra is a horrible teacher. As if it matters.

Sven Sven's picture

The ratemyprofessors.com site appears to be not a whole lot different than many online rating sites.  If you open up a little restaurant or coffee shop or what-have-you, you are very likely going to get rated anonymously by patrons.  That's just the way it is in this information age.

Generally, however, most people are not going to take the time to write up bad reviews of someone that they think highly or have a neutral opinion of.

Teaching is different, though, in one critical aspect: Whereas an owner of a shop will want to make all customers happy, a teacher can't easily do that with students who are lazy and don't do the work and end up with poor grades.  At one time, students were probably more willling to say, "Yeah, I deserved the bad grade because I really didn't put any effort into the class."  Now, with everyone feeling entitled to good grades (along with everything else in life that requires work), you're probably going to get more students who feel angry for getting a bad grade even though they don't deserve a better grade.  This is one of the beautiful things about entitlement thinking today (all the goodies for none of the effort).

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Heh. I corrected your last sentence, Sven. Free of charge.

[quote=Sven]This is one of the beautiful things about entitlement neo-liberal thinking today (all the goodies for none of the effort).[/quote]

Choice is a false prophet.

Sven Sven's picture

Catchfire wrote:

Choice is a false prophet.

Autonomy is rooted in choice.  No choice?  No autonomy.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

It was really weird to read your post #56 and virtually completely agree with it. Until I got to the end and realized you were thinking in terms of social democratic entitlement and I was thinking in terms of neo-liberal ideology of choice. You were so close...

Sven Sven's picture

 

Catchfire wrote:

It was really weird to read your post #56 and virtually completely agree with it. Until I got to the end and realized you were thinking in terms of social democratic entitlement and I was thinking in terms of neo-liberal ideology of choice. You were so close...

I'm not sure what having choices has to do with grade expectations.

Too many people look around and see others who have things they want (whether it's physical things or accomplishments) and think, "I want that, too!" - but they aren't willing to put in the requisite effort to earn them.  And that feeling is magnified by some people constantly telling them they are entitled to a broad array of things in life...just for "showing up" and being a warm body!!  But that has created a pervasive entitlement mentality that has bled into virtually all aspects of life.

So, naturally, many kids get to school and think, "I just have to show up and I am then entitled to an A!!" - and, if they don't get one, then it is someone else's fault, such as "the system" or the teachers.  It's not their fault - because personal responsibility is so passé.

I don't think any of that has to do with having choices.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Unionist wrote:

Catchfire wrote:

As for other comments in this thead, I am not saying, nor have I said, that the students made offensive comments about Mitra's race or perveived race (I don't know what it is in any case).

No, but pookie said this:

pookie wrote:
I think the students' treatment of this professor reflects profound gendered racism and bullying.

And Michelle praised that statement.

Surely there's nothing whatsoever in the evidence we've seen that would lend support to that? I think it's just a misunderstanding of the facts.

 

 

Are you serious? You're going to use the "facts" to discount the likely possibility of the truth of pookies statement based on "facts" that aren't admissible?

Not saying either position is correct but you need to cover your eyes to make a statement like that.

Sven Sven's picture

What facts "aren't admissible"?

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Really Sven?

That Female WOC are highly more likely to face barriers???

Dudes, let the blood flow to your brain, if you have one.

Caissa

This article reports on 5 Canadian Facebook cases.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/05/10/facebook-cases.html

MegB

RevolutionPlease wrote:
Dudes, let the blood flow to your brain, if you have one.

Speaking of personal and non-personal remarks RP, this is personally insulting.  Attack the argument, not the person.

Unionist

RevolutionPlease wrote:
Are you serious? You're going to use the "facts" to discount the likely possibility of the truth of pookies statement based on "facts" that aren't admissible? Not saying either position is correct but you need to cover your eyes to make a statement like that.

Hi, RP - good to see you around here again and posting! I miss your voice, even when we see things differently.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Sven wrote:
I'm not sure what having choices has to do with grade expectations.

I don't want to single out students, because this attitude is pervasive among staff, faculty and administration too, but increasingly the participants and stakeholders in a university are conditioned to view education as a commodity--as a product to be consumed, a "clean industry," a capital gain. It's not, of course, but I'll leave that for another time. It means that students view their education from the point of view of a consumer--they assume they have all the qualifications to decide what "counts" as good education, and that the customer's voice is the only thing that matters. They feel that their "complaints" aren't part of a larger conversation about the administation of education, but that they should result in immediate consumer satisfaction: a better deal, a censured employee, future considerations. They look at grades as end results, not processes; and diplomas as capital, not symbols of history.

All of this stems from the false belief that choice can save you. It can't. It won't.

Fortunately, many staff, faculty and students know this and fight it daily. Cf. Québec.

6079_Smith_W

Catchfire wrote:

It means that students view their education from the point of view of a consumer--they assume they have all the qualifications to decide what "counts" as good education, and that the customer's voice is the only thing that matters. 

Not taking issue with your point, but I can see why a lot of students think this. I am not sure what students pay nowadays, but coming from a time when we paid $125 per course (and I have a friend just 10 years older than me who remembers paying $25 per course), I can see why many are tempted to see it as a commodity. In real terms, it certainly is an investment that involves mortgaging their future. 

Believe it or not, there was a day when one could take a course for the sheer curiosity, or for fun. I did that with "Myth Magic and Shamanism" and "Prehistoric Rock Art".  At this point, I have to wait another 15 years until I am 65 to enjoy that privilege and get back to how things were 30 years ago.

And in the states, where student debt is, along with fines and support payments, one of the few debts unforgivable even by bankruptcy, it is even worse.  If we made the relatively small investment required to make education free, those who take part in it might be less inclined to be so mercenary.

 

Caissa

We have created a university system that is based on commodification. We should not be shocked that students respond to the structure we have created.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Indeed, Caissa.

Sven Sven's picture

 

Catchfire wrote:

Sven wrote:
I'm not sure what having choices has to do with grade expectations.

I don't want to single out students, because this attitude is pervasive among staff, faculty and administration too, but increasingly the participants and stakeholders in a university are conditioned to view education as a commodity--as a product to be consumed, a "clean industry," a capital gain. It's not, of course, but I'll leave that for another time. It means that students view their education from the point of view of a consumer--they assume they have all the qualifications to decide what "counts" as good education, and that the customer's voice is the only thing that matters. They feel that their "complaints" aren't part of a larger conversation about the administation of education, but that they should result in immediate consumer satisfaction: a better deal, a censured employee, future considerations. They look at grades as end results, not processes; and diplomas as capital, not symbols of history.

All of this stems from the false belief that choice can save you. It can't. It won't.

Fortunately, many staff, faculty and students know this and fight it daily. Cf. Québec.

Ah, okay.  If I understand you correctly, choice puts more power into the hands of the students (because educational institutions, both public and private, are then forced to compete for student tuition and public-funding dollars).  "If I don't get X at College A, then there are a half-dozen other colleges I can go to which will give me X."  That competition may lead educational institutions to offer things that diverge from traditional educational offerings (such as using resources to establish "parent liaisons" - like they have at the University of Minnesota to address the near constant meddling of parents in everything related to their college-age kids).  I can see both positive and negative aspects to that.

Yet, I wouldn't put all or even most of the blame on "choice".  The world has changed significantly in the last forty years with globalization.  China and India, among others, have sucked up massive numbers of lower-skilled jobs in countries like the USA and Canada.  That has likely caused students to rethink what an education means to them.  Understandably, many want something that is more vocationally oriented (an accounting, food science, engineering, or similar degree) because when they get their degree, they want a job (and not a low-level service job).  And, I suspect this would be true whether or not education was made a public good.  It is certainly the case when students are paying their own money for a degree.  But I think it would also be the case if society was footing the bill because people would want the key scarce resource of education - tax dollars - used in a way that would maximize the economic benefits (I suspect that people would rather have grads with engineering or bio-science degrees than with fine arts degrees).

And, I do think that the entitlement mentality, culturally, has played and will continue to play a significant role in how students view their education.  The most corrosive aspect of that mentality is a steady undercutting of the concept of personal responsibility - because that mentality tells people that their problems are caused by someone or something else ("the system," oppressors of various sorts, etc.).  They are not told: You have to delay gratification, you have to be disciplined, you have to work hard, you have to sacrifice, etc. to get things you want - despite any systemic problems that exist.  So, students (through no fault of their own, really) arrive in college thinking they are entitled to everything good without significant personal effort and sacrifice (and if they don't get it, then, quite naturally, it's the school's fault, or a teacher's fault, or any of a broad array of external causes).

It's a complex subject.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Caissa wrote:

This article reports on 5 Canadian Facebook cases.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/05/10/facebook-cases.html

Quote:

Court heard that he had described himself as "self-employed" on his Facebook page but he claimed he had lied about his status to protect his privacy. He later admitted that everything else about himself on his profile page, including his age, likes, preferences, hometown, education and activities, were all factual.

The judge ruled in favour of the tax agency, in part, because "it is not that he lied on Facebook, it is that I do not believe he was telling the truth when he said he was lying on Facebook."

I love a good line, "it is not that he lied on Facebook, it is that I do not believe he was telling the truth when he said he was lying on Facebook."

Laughing

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Rebecca West wrote:

RevolutionPlease wrote:
Dudes, let the blood flow to your brain, if you have one.

Speaking of personal and non-personal remarks RP, this is personally insulting.  Attack the argument, not the person.

My bad, apologies.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Unionist wrote:

RevolutionPlease wrote:
Are you serious? You're going to use the "facts" to discount the likely possibility of the truth of pookies statement based on "facts" that aren't admissible? Not saying either position is correct but you need to cover your eyes to make a statement like that.

Hi, RP - good to see you around here again and posting! I miss your voice, even when we see things differently.

 

Thanks U. I'm not normally in disagreement with you either, so it's nice when we can disagree.

Any chance you could add a bit of your deference to my disagreement?

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

And this is why I'm sour on babble. No discussion, just dictats.

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