Provost’s response to National Post article, November 24, 2016

November 28, 2016

Re. Christie Blatchford: UBC prof who denounced U of T colleague in gender debate has skeletons in her own classroom

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment that the National Post printed a story discussing the content of a course taught by Dr. Mary Bryson in 1991. Dr. Bryson is a valued senior associate dean in UBC’s Faculty of Education, and an internationally recognized scholar, who recently challenged University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson in a lively exchange on Bill C-16 at the University of Toronto. While coverage of the debate is important, discussion of the content of a course taught 25 years ago is irrelevant to the debate and appears to be an unwarranted attack on Dr. Bryson’s character and integrity. The goals of Bill C-16 include “to extend protection against hate propaganda…to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression”. This article encourages the reverse.

UBC is proud to have faculty members who engage on complex societal issues and it is deeply troubling to me that one of UBC’s faculty members should be singled out because of their participation in a debate on a controversial topic. Throughout history, advances in science, medical research, economics, social sciences and the arts have been made because a daring university professor had the courage to challenge the status quo and provoke the established order.

Freedom of the press, like academic freedom, should be vigorously defended but should not be used as an excuse to attack the character of someone you disagree with. It is disappointing to see a national newspaper lose sight of this important principle.

Angela Redish
Provost and Vice President Academic, pro tem

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