The University’s handling of Mike Mason’s case has been shrouded in mystery, a typical reaction that the administration has had over the past several years of bad PR incidents.
Their refusal to engage in further discussion or admit wrongdoing is concerning. The recent report released by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) that criticized the Queen’s administration for the way they dealt with the whole situation, created the ideal opportunity for the administration to be transparent about what truly happened.
The report outlined that the University had violated the academic freedom of Professor Mason, offering steps that the University administration could take to redeem itself for its actions.
Instead, the administration has chosen to completely reject the report, arguing that the CAUT isn’t the appropriate body to be bringing forward these concerns.
The problem in and of itself isn’t solely with how the administration dealt with the one situation.
It’s not that Mike Mason wasn’t at fault — it’s still unclear to those who weren’t in his classes whether or not the nature of his commentary was truly offensive or taken out of context.
It’s that very lack of transparency that’s problematic. Very few people know why Professor Mason took an extended leave of absence or whether or not the administration had any role in it.
With little comment from the administration, the issue was quickly swept under the rug.
The rejection of the report only shows a further effort by Queen’s to avoid dealing with difficult conversations that address these issues for the sake of protecting their public image.
It’s been a bad couple of years for Queen’s image with highly publicized mental health issues and controversies from Fauxcoming to Queen’s Bands.
Whether or not CAUT’ allegations against the administration are true, the decision makers at Queen’s owe it to their students to admit to or at least discuss their actions. The only way to grow and to ensure that everyone’s rights are being respected — whether students or faculty — is through having these sorts of difficult conversations openly.
Queen’s rejection of the CAUT’ report isn’t the right step to take — a larger, more transparent investigation needs to take place, where everyone can finally get a response to the questions no one wants to answer.
— Journal Editorial Board
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