UNB professors pen letter against colleague who made white nationalist statements

Click to play video: 'A group of University of New Brunswick professors is speaking out against an alleged white supremacist'
A group of University of New Brunswick professors is speaking out against an alleged white supremacist
WATCH: Ricardo Duchesne, a UNB professor, has posted to far-right websites and suggested immigration is a conspiracy that threatens “European” culture in Canada. Morganne Campbell reports – May 24, 2019

More than 25 professors from the University of New Brunswick have signed a letter rebuking white nationalist statements made by fellow tenured sociology professor Ricardo Duchesne.

On a blog that he co-founded called the Council of European Canadians, Duchesne has posted articles describing the “Chinese silent invasion” of Canada, theories that immigration is a conspiracy leading to white genocide and that mass migration of non-whites overwhelms the European culture in Canada.

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) told Global News on Wednesday that they are reviewing complaints about Duchesne.

They’ve asked for patience during the review, which could lead to a formal investigation. But there’s no timeline on when that decision will be made.

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But the letter is another piece of evidence that at least some of Duchesne’s co-workers aren’t happy with his comments.

“He’s not shy about putting this stuff out,” said Gary Waite, a professor of history at UNB who signed the letter.

WATCH: UNB professor under fire

Duchesne, originally from Puerto Rico, has disputed that he is a white supremacist and maintained that he’s entitled to “academic freedom,” suggesting his classes are widely attended and provide students with new insights.

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The letter says discrimination of any kind goes against the welcoming essence of the university.  They feel his comments and appearances with accused white nationalists is dangerous.

The professors, who work at UNB’s Saint John and Fredericton campuses, videoconferenced to come up with the statement in response to a Huffington Post report that first publicized Duchesne’s comments.

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“We are concerned faculty members who want to make it very clear that racist ideas have no scholarly support, they have no credibility and we condemn them, they have no place in the university,” said Waite.

The group of professors are familiar with Duchesne’s views, after the sociology faculty in 2015 signed a letter condemning Duchesne’s comments at the University of British Columbia in which the professor suggested that Asian immigration was threatening the suburbs of Vancouver.

One of the professors that showed up to help draft and sign the letter calling for action is Mostaq Hussain. He said during the meeting everyone was distraught and wanted to get the word out that they do not agree with his discriminatory remarks.

“It is disappointing and harmful for the reputation of UNB. I’m from Bangladesh; I fear if his belief spreads, I could be a target of an attack like in Christchurch or the mosque in Montreal and my MBA class is 98 per cent non-white,” said Hussain.

Hussain pointed out that “Duchesne’s statements contradict his existence in Canada right now” and said that New Brunswick needs to retain its population and we need more immigration.

Hussain says in a declining population that Duchesne’s comments could have adverse effects.

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The collective agreement of The Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers — the union representing full and part-time professors at UNB — defines what academic freedom is for faculty.

The definition includes says that academic freedom is that “freedom of discussion, freedom to criticize, including criticism of the University of New Brunswick and the Association, freedom from censorship by the Parties, and freedom to consider and study all available expressions of creativity, knowledge, and intellectual activity, including those which may be considered by some elements of society to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable; (b)freedom in the choice and pursuit of research, and freedom to disseminate or to withhold dissemination of the results and conclusions of such research;(c)freedom in the choice and pursuit of teaching methods, and to state their views on matters relating to their discipline.”

But Waite and the professors who signed the letter argue that Duchesne’s comments lack academic and scientific proof and are not a part of academic freedom but are simply hate speech.

“We object to any professor who uses his title or position to give credence or credibility to racist beliefs or notions of white supremacy,” said Waite.

The professors told Global News that they do not want Duchesne to us his prestigious status as a professor to give radical followers a false narrative.

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