more thoughts on institutional failures and wrong-opinion-havers

There’s a reason why a timely apology keeps medical malpractice lawsuits out of the court system. The effort and cost of getting compensated for wrongdoing isn’t usually financially possible or a wise use of time to throw after a mistake in the past.

It would have to really matter to the complainant to move forward in the process beyond seeking an apology. A lot of times, it is difficult to prove official malpractice. Having most communication done over email certainly makes things a lot easier.

An apology can never unmake a past mistake, but it can indicate to the wronged person that it mattered to the person who made it. Professional malpractice — medically, legally or institutionally — is not a professional who made an inconsequential mistake or one who didn’t get a positive or intended outcome. Professional codes of conduct allow their professionals to be bad at their jobs and have that lack of care not be considered negligent.

Behaviour that rises to the level of bad practice must have been easily preventable by competent practitioners who knew everything they were expected to know as professionals. That’s the Law Society of BC’s expectation of legal service in their code of conduct. Lawyers must provide the service expected of a competent lawyer as UBC Person’s actions are held against an objective person’s knowledge of the entire situation and applicable policies.

A public institution asks for total accountability. They must hold their people to that expectation because they answer to the public in exchange for public funding. Ignoring policies to serve their officers’ interests cannot serve the institutional requirements the British Columbian Government holds them.

The UBC could not have given itself more stop signs in its policies than it had. An institution hires the best people it can and trains them the best it can because an institution cannot protect itself from itself if it doesn’t hold itself accountable.

An appeals process must work in an institutional setting. If it needs to be said — and clearly, it needs to — the goal of an appeals process is for every new person to approach the situation with a fresh, objective reading of the policies and an objective mindset that the student *could* be right. And if they can’t do that, they’ll have to have one person whose job it is to think ‘zombies.’

You’d think that would fall under the UBC Ombudspeople or the Senate’s mandate but nope. Both those departments decided what the Provost said goes. The entire system failed. VP of Students, same deal. AMS didn’t respond.

But I’m sure Chrome will find “independ-” on their landing pages.

If the student isn’t correct about their perceived wrongdoing, the policies should be blatantly clear. That’s why they are written in plain language. A layperson, with a layperson’s understanding of what words mean, can read what should happen.

And the appeals process will put the student in front of UBC Persons whose job it is to know what the institution needs to know to protect itself, even if no one else to that point has considered it more than just a one-sided interpersonal conflict the student hadn’t known existed. Had the lawyers respected the UBC Respectful Environment Statement, they would have known they were required by their institution to get the whole story.

Had they read that policy, it would have explained — again, in plain language — that their actions were going to be judged based on what they should have done, had they known all the policies and the whole story.

Mark Crosbie worked for a University that had written themselves a note saying they didn’t have to follow policy. The Law Society allowed him to dismiss a valid professional code of conduct complaint in which he personally chose not to perform his duties to the level of a competent lawyer by spreading malicious rumours about the student questioning his unprofessional conduct.

Those rumours were about a student who had only ever wanted from my first personal point of contact with a star-belly — in my third week of class — was to have their rights as a student respected. She only ever wanted to graduate and spend the rest of her life either not thinking of the UBC or poking gentle, puppet-infested fun at some of the philosophies she’d witnessed.

But the UBC made it obvious it didn’t understand it couldn’t violate any policy it wanted. No institutional person should ever guess what policy says about the duties of their job. They should be trained to know, trained to know where to look for the answer, or trained to know to ask for help.

A trainer doesn’t know the first thing about what the day-to-day duties of the department they’re training are. Officers are hired for institutional positions because they know what to do to accomplish their tasks. A trainer only knows the expectations each office holder is held to while they are doing their day-to-day tasks.

And if my staff made an error, it was my job to understand why they made it and ensure they know what they need to do to never make a mistake like that again. Making the same error again after being reminded how to do it properly proves the past reminder didn’t work.

It means more drastic measures will be needed.

The UBC ought to have known what to do *this time* when faced with another wrong-opinion-haver who insists on the right to have that opinion. Instead, they made the same error for the same reason over and over.

And over. And over. And over. And over.

As a wrong-opinion-haver at UBC, I should have accepted I had no expectation of protection. Even knowing how many policies that were violated, I still wanted only an apology. But my Director explained that their program had every right to trample my rights and freedoms as a UBC Person because we had a difference of pedagogical opinions.

From that point on, I wanted far more than any simple apology. The UBC hadn’t respected any part of academic freedom.

The UBC under the guise of a public institution, abdicated all its sworn and/or signed-off academic duties to its lawyers to know which ones it could break. UBC Counsel had an opinion of dubious legality and didn’t give the student the academic freedom to question their boneheadedness. The lawyers worked for an academic institution that promised to protect that specific activity.

The Law Society of BC’s code of conduct states they are required to know the procedures of their organization. Yet the UBC still clutched its pearls at the nerve of being held accountable for declaring it hadn’t done anything wrong while closing down a complaint against itself.

If the student wants them to follow those policies, they’ll have to find a British Columbian lawyer who knows something can be legal and improper conduct, even if the Law Society couldn’t figure that out.

But until regulatory services actually get the problem to the front of the queue and resolved, students should always bear the financial burden of auditing the UBC for how many times it violated the public trust to silence one of its own.

Because if students can’t do that, the UBC or its Star-bellied people will never have “officially” done anything wrong. All the office holders who committed improper conduct would have moved on to other opportunities with their sterling reputations deliberately curated to be so.

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