In my last blog, though, I argued several key points:
- Faculty employing TAs must ensure proper orientation so that their TAs understand the rules of their courses, what is acceptable as teaching aids and what is not, so that everyone is working toward creating a positive learning environment (the precise meaning of which might differ from prof to prof and course to course, for legitimate reasons). In this case, this seems not to have been done.
- That committees sanctioning individuals for breaches of the rules have a responsibility to get the rules right, as it were. If a committee is contending that there has been a breach of Canadian law, for example, they must ensure that their interpretation of the law can hold up because the law is not, of course, simply a matter of opinion and we want to avoid "well, I think X is wrong" types of argument in which there is not way to determine the accuracy of given statements. It appears the committee interviewing the TA fell down on this point.
- That the committee sanctioning the TA (Lindsay Shepherd) also neglected other important matters of procedure that are essential for the effective construction of what we could argue is rule of law but which I would also argue is essential for the most effective free speech situation. These include: informing the accused in advance of the rules they had violated and allowing time to respond. Said differently, a person accused of something should not be forced to "think on their feet" during their defense.
- The number of complainants
- The complaint itself
- The process through which complaints are made