12 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 1 JANUARY 2018
Rambukkana: I understand the position that you’re coming from and
your positionality, but the reality is that it has created a toxic climate for
some of the students, you know, it’s great—
Shepherd: How many? Who? How many? One?
Rambukkana: May I speak?
Shepherd: I have no concept of how many people complained, what
their complaint was, you haven’t shown me the complaint.
Rambukkana: I understand that this is upsetting, but there’s also confidentiality
Shepherd: The number of people is confidential?
It is in the context of expressing the fact that she does not even know the
case against her that Ms. Shepherd begins to get notably upset and understandably
so. Being called upon to defend yourself against a charge that is
not articulated is terrifying. Moreover, Dr. Rambukkana got it wrong again.
The policy itself provides that a complaint “will require a declaration of the
particulars of the allegations to the University (e.g. names, date, details of
the incident) for the purpose of due process and procedural fairness.” Moreover,
under a section headed “Limits to Confidentiality”, Article 6.01 of the
policy provides that there may be times when the university may need to
“breach confidentiality such as when: … An Official Complaint process has
been initiated and the Respondent must be informed of the details of the
Rambukkana: Do you see how this is something that is not intellectually
neutral, that is kind of “up for debate”, I mean this is the Charter of Rights
Shepherd: But it is up for debate.
Rambukkana: You’re perfectly welcome to your own opinion, but when
you’re bringing it into the context of the classroom that can become problematic,
and that can become something that is, that creates an unsafe
learning environment for students.
Shepherd: But when they leave the university they’re going to be
exposed to these ideas, so I don’t see how I’m doing a disservice to the
class by exposing them to ideas that are really out there. And I’m sorry
I’m crying, I’m stressed out because this to me is so wrong, so wrong.
Except that it is not the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter does
not prohibit a graduate student tutor from leading a discussion on controversial
topics. Moreover, it certainly does not compel anyone to take a particular
position on a topic. Rather, the Charter guarantees freedom of
thought, belief, opinion and expression. When Ms. Shepherd cries on that
recording, all of civilized society cries with her.