Remember to press 'record' if the Inquisition comes calling

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

That's the lesson the admirable Lindsay Shepherd teaches us despite her ordeal at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada.  She's a teaching assistant (and grad student) who was taking a first-year communication studies class on pronouns.  In doing this, she used a short clip from a TVOntario debate (with the University of Toronto's  Jordan Peterson and others) to illustrate how controversial grammar can be – especially pronouns.  Someone complained and Shepherd was reprimanded for violating the University's Gendered and Sexual Violence policy.  In a meeting with three university officials (two academics; one of whom was her supervisor) and the institution's acting manager of Gendered Violence Prevention and Support [sic].   Shepherd was accused, amongst other things, of creating a toxic and problematic environment that constituted violence against transgendered students.  She was also told that she had broken the Canadian law.

You can listen to the whole encounter here.  It is as fine an example of institutional bullying as you could hope never to come across and might be used in years to come in supervisor training classes.  In the encounter I thought it was Shepherd who sounded like the academic as it was she, rather than her inquisitors, who was intent on upholding the values of a university education.  All in all, I thought she was just trying to make a class on pronouns a bit more interesting.

Some good may (or not) come of it.  The university has had to apologise for the way Shepherd was treated, and her supervisor has issued an astonishing letter of abject grovel.  It's here.   However, the post of Gendered Violence Prevention and Support still exists.

The moral here is to press record on your phone when if you are to be bullied because none of this would be out in the open if that hadn't been done, and the acting manager of Gendered Violence Prevention and Support [GVPS] would have emerged further empowered.  This GVPS role reminds me of the armed NKVD units that were embedded in the Red Army doing WWII to ensure that the troops always faced the right direction.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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