UBC provost pro tem Angela Redish and interim president Martha Piper issued the following statement today (August 17) in response to a blog post by Prof. Jennifer Berdahl:
The allegations of breaches of academic freedom in a recent blog post are serious and UBC has the processes to appropriately address such allegations.
Universities serve society but are also established to question society and academic freedom is the bedrock on which a university exists. The role of critic can only be accomplished in an environment that is free from administrative, political or religious constraint.
The collective agreement confirms that members of the University have the freedom, within the law, to pursue what seems to them be fruitful avenues of inquiry, to teach and to learn unhindered by external or non-academic constraints. Suppression of this freedom, whether by the institutions of the state, the officers of the University or the actions of private individuals, would prevent the University from carrying out is primary function.
All members of the UBC community recognize and value this fundamental principle, and must share responsibility for supporting, safeguarding and preserving it. Academic freedom is balanced by the scholar’s commitment to academic integrity that requires intellectual honesty and objectivity, unfettered by personal gain or financial or political considerations.
The principles of fairness and due process are also fundamental to the UBC community, and we must respect the law to ensure all members of the university community are enabled to contribute fully to their endeavours. As such, UBC has rigorous processes in place – established with the agreement of the Faculty Association – to investigate any allegation of breach of academic freedom. It is imperative that we follow this impartial process embedded within and protected by the collective agreement before pre-judging unproven and untested allegations at this time.
The facts will be gathered and all parties will be heard before reaching any conclusion. We welcome this process and it would be entirely inappropriate to comment further on the allegations until this process has been concluded.