I can’t imagine what a regular student would think of the UBC

I had to know how to teach and write to know that the UBC was offering its students an anti-pedagogy. To get those sweet, sweet student evaluations, the UBC just had to lock the necessity of learning the craft of writing to improve stories at a structural level behind the University of British Columbia’s reputation as a preeminent institute.

And if that meant the average graduate of their program has to conceive the notion that the UBC might be wrong first before they could consider structure might help their career goals, so be it. The graduate has already completed their glowing evaluation of a program that taught them that no story ever needs anything but a nice polish.

Any masters program in Canada should be on the leading edge of its profession and academia. My MFA told its student body to just do what they are doing but this time, slightly better and hope for significant change after having paid tens of thousands of dollars of tuition.

It was a degree that worried only about the 1% law without concern for the craft yet to be learned. Every writer assumes they are just breaking the rules when all they know how to do is tell the audience what is important. And with the success of the very small subset of learners who just needs to practice the 1% law, the program is considered to be of value to all learners.

But did my instructors even realize they were teaching the same lesson to at least three types of learners? Only the group that contained a handful of students could have benefited without being harmed having only learned how to discuss polishing techniques.

But those students just perpetuate the problem of instructors just teaching the writers who are like them. If a program can only teach writers who are near-clones of the instructor, it cannot reach the average learner.

A pedagogy’s success is not judged on the very small percentage of the learners who succeed despite the methodology. It is judged on the outcome of the average learner. The average learner never learns that the secret to a learner’s success in the UBC methodology depends entirely on how their writing ability already stacks up to the professional standard of their genre at the time they applied for the program.

I’m guessing not. They believed their program was “learner-focused.” They should have been forced to advertise their program as “learner *like me* focused.”

But there’s weirdly no truth in academic laws like there is in advertisement. And so, there are no student protections.

Students in a quarantine are the least likely to have the funds to fight it. But first, they’d have to find a lawyer who hears anything more than blah blah blah when someone says that lawyers violated their professional code of conduct to ignore academic freedom violations.

My complaint was not that UBC Officers were committing improper conduct. It was that the UBC was not stopping their officers from committing it. But not being an injury or a wrongful dismissal, it was beyond the lawyers I spoke to mortal kens.

The training department of their law firm failed to train them to understand that policies must be followed despite being a non-legal matter. Institutions hold their officers to institutional standards willingly and not just because they might be arrested if they do not.

I tried to complain about the UBC’s lack of scholarly integrity that it would violate academic freedom because it was not against the law not to. The UBC pretended it isn’t the kind of university that abandons its scholarly integrity at the drop of a law degree if its university counsel advises it that its Scholarly Integrity Policy isn’t legally enforceable.

This shit mattered to me. I always thought I just had to tell the next person on the appeals process that a megalomanic was trying to ruin UBC’s reputation by assuming he could close an academic freedom violation complaint against himself. Instead, they ensured nothing could slow their momentum before the entire university drove off that cliff.

I remember how carefully I tried to make it clear to Andrew Szeri that he wanted to keep the issue internal. It was going to be reported at that point, one way or the other. If he wasn’t going to allow his institute to self-report his blatant conflict of interest, I would.

But the UBC didn’t even teach its staff conflicts of interest are bad, mkay?

And as I’ve already said in one of my privated blogposts, the only thing worse than having an error state “We have fucked up considerably” is having that report be externally generated by an outside regulatory agency that says, “You have fucked up considerably.”

I almost thought the UBC didn’t have a training department at all. But I did manage to contact them once. Whoever I spoke to told me that contacting them to report that no one was following policy was against policy. When I told them I was the only one trying to follow policy, I was advised to just follow policy even more. I can’t say I wasn’t speaking to an AI program just trained to repeat the common phrases a trainer would say.

But a regular student without my extensive policy training would think that an academic institution can decide which opinion is really allowed to be shared and which has to button itself up, despite what the academic freedom statement says.

As a reminder, it states violations will not be tolerated. But the UBC has told the non-SOP trained student that the UBC gets to decide which valid opinions it can silence. In a university that understood its obligations to academia, it would be obvious that if the truth can’t exist in a methodology, it’s the methodology that is broken.

If the methodology ensures that it is unacceptable to suggest that a rewrite might be necessary, learners learn rewrites are not necessary. “Standard industry tools” do not include trying to compete in a slushpile with work that has a nice polish on a first draft.

The student who understood the market their classmates were trying to publish in and how to recognize a methodology with no workable pedagogy would know the UBC doesn’t think students deserve a respectful environment if they state an opinion their instructor disagrees with.

I didn’t like the methodology of the program. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t see how it could work. Despite all of those facts, I respected the fact that it must have had a pedagogy deep down. So I could at the very least respect it until I was told by two UBC Officers that there was no pedagogy to be had.

I never complained I didn’t like the way it was taught. The teaching was fine. What was and wasn’t being taught was the problem. But none of my instructors could respect the freedom I had to voice an unpopular opinion about the necessity of craft in a program with rigorously craft-based in its mission statement.

That student would think institutional policies truly are pies in the sky and not an expectation set between the British Columbian government and the University of British Columbia that they must follow to operate as an institution with public funding. Policies set the standard expectation that anyone in X situation will be treated like Y. It doesn’t allow itself to take into consideration who the “anyone” is.

If a UBC Person makes a complaint, they are the complainant. If a UBC Person is complained about, they are the respondent. We use these terms in policy because it does not matter who the respondent and complainant are in relation to each other. All complainants will be treated exactly the same, no matter who or what they are complaining about. All respondents will be treated the same, no matter how big of a corner office they have.

Instead, the UBC went to their lawyers and said “Legally, how do we get out of following our policies?”

And somewhere in this world, a monkey paw’s finger curled up against its palm.

Because the university counsel was absolutely right. Legally, they didn’t have to follow the policies. Legally, they could do whatever they wanted. The UBC just has to accept the consequences of being the institution that ignored a conflict of interest to strip the academic freedom from a UBC Person so the UBC wouldn’t have to hear how their program assaulted academic freedom.

When UBC Persons attack another UBC Person’s academic freedom, it should have been a five-alarm fire.

When the institution officially assists those UBC Persons in attacking another UBC Person’s academic freedom, they burn the fire-fighting equipment.

If I wasn’t aware that lawyers couldn’t refuse to do their duty to their institution or that UBC officers couldn’t choose to ignore policies because their boss told them to, I would have walked away knowing the University of British Columbia under Dr. Ono’s administration could do anything they wanted to cover up harassment and the institution would assist their harassers.

All because lawyers thought a legal opinion could redefine “UBC Person” to exclude students and “improper conduct” to exclude policy. Why didn’t John S. Montalbano ask a lawyer just to write him a note excusing him from his academic freedom expectations?

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