Students and faculty from a wide array of minority and marginalized communities are challenging universities on many fronts.
Contentious topics include tuition costs, admissions standards, traditions and symbols, culturally responsive curricula, student supports, campus security, accommodations for disability and family status, academic freedom, the right to protest, gender identity recognition, intellectual diversity, and more.
There is a lot of talk (and some action) around safe spaces these days. While not in any way downplaying the needs for sanctuary even in a prosperous country like Canada, and for venues where one can exercise democratic and expressive rights without fear of violence or other forms of intimidation and attempted silencing, I would like to register a caveat about the colloquial tendency to conflate “space” and “place” and use these terms interchangeably in talking about post-secondary education and the harms currently attributed to it.
When one looks more carefully into the controversy at the University of Toronto Law School over the hiring of a director for the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) and the university’s attempt to extradite itself, the picture only gets bleaker.
Part 1: The IHRP Scandal at the University of Toronto
I should begin by acknowledging that I am married to Audrey Macklin, one of the individuals involved in the events described below.
The increasingly rapid rate of technological innovation has disrupted many spheres of life, but few with higher stakes than forensic evidence. Yet the private sector tools that generate this evidence are far from flawless, and commercial secrecy can confound attempts by those accused of crime to challenge the case against them, leading to devastating consequences for individuals.
Forensic technologies are proliferating and increasingly form the basis for critical evidence and determinations in court (in addition to their more familiar role in the criminal investigative process).
In the last provincial election, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney joined other Conservative politicians that have purportedly become stalwart defenders of free expression on campus. Details I have obtained through access-to-information requests tell a very different story. But first, some background.