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Collection « Les sciences sociales contemporaines »

The Academic Corporation, Justice, Freedom, and the University (1987)

Une édition électronique réalisée à partir du livre de MM. Allen Fenichel & David Mandel, The Academic Corporation, Justice, Freedom, and the University. Introduction by Professor J. C. Weldon. Montréal-New York : Black Rose Books, 162 pp., 1987, 190 pp. Une édition numérique réalisée par Marcelle Bergeron, bénévole, professeure retraitée de l'École polyvalente Dominique-Racine de Chicoutimi. [Autorisation accordée par l'auteur le 1er novembre 2006 de diffuser le texte de cette conférence dans Les Classiques des sciences sociales.]


On April 29, 1980, the Political Science Department at McGill University voted to deny David Mandel a teaching position. This would normally have been the end of the matter. Universities do not accept the right of society to question their decisions, and, on new appointments, even otherwise limited but available self-monitoring arrangements are largely non-operative. Terms such as "academic freedom" and "global judgement" are put forward to protect universities from public scrutiny. David Mandel's situation was different because he expected, and soon came to demand, an explanation for the department's decision. It did not take long for him to realize that he would get no such explanation, and that, in fact, McGill University would resist any effort on his part to obtain an impartial hearing. 

This book is the story of David Mandel's efforts to obtain a hearing – a hearing which, when realized, upheld his allegations of wrongdoing yet gave him no redress. It also deals with the nature and results of that hearing and the broader issues they raise. We have tried to let the various participants speak for themselves through their correspondence, testimony, and reports. The four years the case lasted yielded an overwhelming amount of written material. 

David Mandel's experience with McGill University, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the Quebec Human Rights Commission, and the provincial and federal immigration authorities raises, troubling questions about justice and accountability in our university system. It also poses questions about the role of "academic freedom". While most people assume that the principle exists to safeguard the autonomy of academics in their pursuit of knowledge, few are aware of its ideological uses as a screen to shield from outside scrutiny the subversion of the very freedom it proclaims and to prevent the appeal of unjust decisions. This case also casts grave doubt on the government's and CAUT's commitment to their own laws and guidelines designed to promote the "Canadianization" of our universities, by affording priority in hiring to qualified Canadians. 

Our purpose in writing this book is to draw the attention of the academic community and the public to these issues as well as to dispel some widespread and harmful illusions about universities and their place in society. 

Retour au texte de l'auteur: Jean-Marc Fontan, sociologue, UQAM Dernière mise à jour de cette page le jeudi 21 juin 2007 8:35
Par Jean-Marie Tremblay, sociologue
professeur au Cégep de Chicoutimi.

Saguenay - Lac-Saint-Jean, Québec
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