WLUFA Statement About Shepherd, Peterson Lawsuits

On Friday, I warned that Professor Jordan Peterson’s lawsuit against Wilfrid Laurier University and three of its employees (two faculty members and one former staff member) risks chilling academic freedom in Canada. I urged Laurier to provide legal support for the employees named in the litigation.

Yesterday, the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) — so, not the University itself, but the union representing faculty and librarians — issued a public statement on its website that it “is working closely with the two faculty members in their defence of the actions, providing them with support and legal advice as they prepare for the court proceedings.  It has also challenged the University under the terms of the Collective Agreement for its actions and statements regarding our two members.”

The statement continues:

As the legal rigmarole intensifies, the Association will work to keep attention focused on the following three principles that we believe are important to our community:

1. The academic freedom of the two faculty members who expressed their views about Ms. Shepherd’s conduct in a tutorial she led;

2. The fact that a course instructor is responsible for the content of a course, has academic freedom in teaching, and has an obligation to supervise and, if necessary, correct the conduct of teaching assistants hired to assist with their courses;

3. The responsibility of the University for the actions of its managers and the defence of its own policies.

Read the whole statement here.

I’ll keep a watching eye on this case. If other groups issue statements about the lawsuit, I’ll share them with you.