Canada: Row over ‘institutional censorship’ of arts instructor

21 June 2015


Capilano University’s leadership is being called to apologise for censoring a former studio arts instructor – or risk becoming a pariah institution among academics, a report concluded.

Studio arts instructor George Rammell created ‘Blathering on in Krisendom’, a caricature of university president Kris Bulcroft and her poodle Margaux, and displayed it on campus as an act of protest against his and a host of other programs being cut from the school in 2013.

Then-board of governors chairwoman Jane Shackell ordered the statue removed, later saying it was personal harassment against Bulcroft. When the administration eventually returned it, it had been cut into pieces.

A committee struck by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, which represents 68,000 post-secondary academics and staff, concluded that seizing the sculpture amounted to “institutional censorship,” which has contributed to a “culture of mistrust and fear at Capilano University.”

But it looks like there’s no apology coming, reported North Shore News. Current board chairwoman Shelley McDade issued a statement following the committee report saying the issue was dealt with through a union grievance process in 2014.

“The matter relating to Mr. Rammell was settled almost a year ago, and the University considers it closed. The Canadian Association of University Teachers is an association that has no relationship, authority or jurisdiction relating to Capilano University,” she stated.

“Academic freedom is enshrined in the university senate policy. The university remains committed to cultivating and protecting a respectful workplace, in accordance with its policies.”

The association’s academic freedom committee will meet in August and discuss whether the school should be formally censured.

George Rammell contends the destruction of his art was illegal and he plans to pursue it with the RCMP.

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