UBC and their belief in magic words

I’m never going to check again, but a few months ago, the UBC website still boasted about their craft-based discussions leading to literary excellence and their leading-edge pedagogy. Because those are the words a writing program ought to use.

Go inside the program, and that craft-based discussion turns into nice-prose-based appreciation. Literary excellence had better come preinstalled in the work because literary terms and the discussion of their uses are not welcome. And “pedagogy” means “the way we’ve chosen to hold our classes” and not “the study of learning.”

I was given two different “pedagogies” to explain the lack of it. One, from the provost, tried to tell me that his program was based on “gentle” where “gentle” meant there was no gentle way to discuss craft because it might still be upsetting. The other, a pedagogist, told me it was “peer review” where any opinion that wasn’t in lock step with the groupthink was aggressively stamped out.

They could have been using magic words. They don’t need a pedagogy, they just need to be able to say that they have one. The exact same thing could be said about academic freedom, they just want to say violations of it are not going to be tolerated in the *statement* about it.

The first time a student had a legitimate complaint about the quality of their education and the program, the university, in a coordinated effort that must have left a paper trail a mile wide and four years long, did everything they could in their power to squash the evidence.

I will never forget the conversation I had with the lowest ranking person I spoke to, which meant they were given the responsibility of trying to tell a former SOP trainer how they could “legally” (read: no one will get arrested) remove academic freedom from a student.

I couldn’t convince them that they were reading nonsense. It’s not illegal to remove academic freedom, it’s against every policy in the book. UBC should not have asked the lawyers “Will anyone get arrested if we break every policy we have about honest and open behaviour” and focused on the “What happens to our jobs and the school’s reputation if we break every policy we have about honest and open behaviour” question.

And everyone thought they could get away with it. Their official defence was “if the student is never allowed to say the magic words “My academic freedom was violated multiple times” officially, the UBC can continue tolerating a program built on academic freedom violation.”

But COI policy, like the honey badger, just doesn’t care. The provost not registering his COI in the five hours he took to change the nature of my complaint in writing so that it could easily be dismissed is the second smoking gun he personally handed to investigators.

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