How my third (and most important) complaint was disappeared

I’m not ruining tomorrow by rehashing this bullshit, so we’re right on to Complaint #3. UBC had just made it abundantly clear that it believed it had the right to teach a program that actively did harm to the students” professional goals when it taught the average learner “you — in particular — don’t have to learn craft” while teaching the future creative writing instructor “no learner has to.”

The Ministry of Higher Education and the Ombudspeople told me they couldn’t do anything even if learners were being harmed by what a public institution was teaching them. While UBC believes it can violate section 19.1 of the University Act to its heart’s content, the government and ombudspeople hands are tied.

The nice lady at the ombudsperson advised me “they could do something with the violated policies” but I realized I hadn’t gone through UBC’s appeal process yet, and I believed as an educator that going external with concerns is the last ditch effort. So I said I would try to go through the official channels, first.

Once I started to read UBC policies, I was absolutely sure it would be over by Christmas. The Investigations Policy clearly stated the Provost didn’t have a choice as which investigations they could look into. It wasn’t even a he said/she said. The Provost wrote that UBC’s Creative Writing School’s pedagogy was “gentle.”

The conflict of interest policy required the provost to read it, the values statement, the academic freedom statement he is quoted in, the scholarly integrity policy, the Discrimination Policy, and the retaliation policy, the investigations policy and the Respectful Environment policy before he could decide if he could be allowed to investigate whether he confirmed in writing that the program required absolute control over what students were allowed to say for its “gentle” pedagogy to work.

Even if none of his instructors, the director of the program, or the dean of graduate studies could explain how.

And if he decided that yes, he could still investigate himself, despite the obvious conflict of interest, he would have to have had a conflict of interest plan in place *before* he contacted me. This conflict of interest plan would have required the services of a conflict of interest advisor to have gone over the plan with him. But Andy got my email Friday afternoon and had an answer for me Monday morning.

The Department of Being Told Your Problem told me that I just hadn’t liked the way class was taught. My complaint was that despite the Provost confirming that the program was designed around academic freedom violation, he was allowed to close the complaint against himself as the VP in charge of the Vancouver campus’s academic freedom. He was also allowed to summarize my complaint as something it was not.

“Not liking the way class was taught” became my official complaint. Not that it harmed learners. Not that it left learners having to conceive the idea that UBC lied to them about the importance of craft before they could be willing to try deliberately practicing it. Not that future creative writing instructors were taught a method that requires students to have an existing grasp on story structure *and* aesthetic prose to work.

Definitely not that it took Academic Freedom out to the back forty to shoot it like a mad Alberta cow.

I “hadn’t liked the way class was taught.” Full stop.

And if I wasn’t going to accept that wasn’t my complaint, it hardly mattered because everyone on the Appeals Process listed in the Investigations Policy told me the Provost’s Department of Being Told Your Problem had already told me my problem, so shut up about it. The only people who didn’t were the VP of students and the Senate, who told me because everyone else had told me I’d been told my problem, they weren’t even going to look into it.

And that’s how my Academic Freedom complaint was managed. The current Director of Equity and Inclusion advised me because no law said UBC couldn’t remove academic freedom from a student, they were going to go ahead and do that. Without academic freedom, no one had to hear my complaint — protected activity be damned.

And sure, the Tri-Agency Framework has a clause specifically requiring officers of research institutions to participate in the complaint process as a respondent if required. But it only counts if the research institution self-reports that their provost refused to participate. If he refused to participate — and UBC officers conspired to ensure there would be no official record of the complaint — then nothing important happened (that) day.

Mark Crosbie put in writing that the university counsel wasn’t going to complete its obligations listed in the appeal process of the Investigations Policy if Andrew J. Szeri told them not to, so no record of the conflict of interest complaint against the Provost exists.

The Discrimination (and Harassment) Policy states students have the academic freedom to criticize the program. If no record of my complaints exists, their absence proves UBC removes the academic freedom from students who try to use their protected activity of criticizing.

The student’s lived experience trying to lodge a complaint in an institution that believes it can put in writing that students don’t have the academic freedom to complain means nothing.

Even with the email proof.

Sometime in the next few days, I’ll explain how my complaints disappeared at the Law Society and the Tri-Agency Framework! Students in BC cannot complain to regulatory services, apparently, no matter how many policies are kept online and in plain language.

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