UNB professors fear alleged ‘white nationalist’ colleague may tarnish university’s reputation
More than 30 professors from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) say they’re banding together and sending a message that discrimination of any kind has no place at the University of New Brunswick.
The professors are taking aim at a fellow tenured sociology professor Ricardo Duchesne for comments he made on a controversial blog he co-founded called the Council of European Canadians.
“We are taking up our right and responsibility to criticize his arguments that he has put out publicly and to condemn them because we find no scholarly merit whatsoever in these views,” said Gary Waite, a professor of history at UNB.
Duchesne allegedly posted articles describing the “Chinese silent invasion” of Canada and espoused theories that immigration is a conspiracy leading to white genocide and that mass migration of non-whites overwhelms the European culture in Canada.
“That’s deeply concerning that somebody would cloak themselves in the mantle of scholarship to distribute hate,” explained Jula Hughes a professor of Law at UNB.
Duchesne is being reviewed by the university. UNB is asking for patience during the process that, depending on how it unfolds, could lead to a formal investigation but the university isn’t releasing any timelines.
Duchesne, originally from Puerto Rico, has disputed that he is a white supremacist and maintained that he’s entitled to “academic freedom.” Further suggesting to Global News that he feels his colleagues are ganging up on him because of his critical thinking and the fact he’s published three books.
“This radical extremist on the left views in the academic world is to discredit the academic quality of those who are critical,” explained Duchesne. “I was promoted to full professor in 2007 without a single book because I had a long list of articles. I had more articles at that time than the department even put together.”
Claims Duchesne’s colleagues at the Fredericton campus say are untrue.
“It’s a ridiculous claim. A ridiculous claim. We have Canada research chairs at this table, we have university research scholars at this table. It’s just ridiculous,” said Waite.
The group of professors has long been familiar with Duchesne’s views. In 2015, the sociology faculty 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.
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.
Academic freedom is defined as: “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.”
“There are responsibilities with academic freedom as well. It’s not just a free right to say whatever you want using your university title. I do not see it that way,” said Waite.
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.
“There’s a scholarly community that always engages with topics, you’re never alone and when you make yourself alone you’re really not doing scholarly work anymore,” Hughes said.
-with files from Megan Yamoah.
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