As professors at the University of Ottawa, we would like to express our disagreement with the treatment reserved for Professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval by our institution. Two elements seem to us to be confused in this unfortunate affair: 1) racism on campus, micro-attacks, sometimes unconscious but nonetheless real discrimination of which minorities are victims, and which must be denounced; 2) the role of university education, teachers and classrooms which is to nourish reflection, develop critical thinking, allow everyone, regardless of their position, to have the right to word.
Let us recall some fundamental principles of university education.
If every professor must in his teaching be sensitive to the realities of the different students in his class, the university remains a place of debate; a place, too, to explore the realities of history, especially the history of ideas, many of which will come into conflict with the doxa of the moment.
The classroom (physical or virtual) cannot become a place freed from the weight of history, ideas and their representations. It is therefore inevitable that certain readings, certain concepts, even certain words run up against sensitivities. The university is precisely the place to reflect on this reality, to historicize it, to scientifically free itself from the tyranny of both majorities and presentism.
Take the example of Pierre Vallières, perhaps the most inclusive of the independentist intellectuals with Gérald Godin. If this great essayist wrote today, after the collective questioning linked to cultural appropriation, he would undoubtedly choose another title than White Negroes of America. In 1965, the question was posed differently, and the author chose this title in homage to Léopold Sédar Senghor, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon and in solidarity with the members of the Black Panthers whom he rubbed shoulders with in his American imprisonment. Likewise, Dany Laferrière challenges stereotypes in his first novel, whose very title, How to have sex with a nigger without getting tired, is provocative. Isn’t it the university’s role to put these realities into perspective? To teach these works and so many others that allow us to think about the world? This fundamental mission would become difficult to say the least in a context of supervised university freedoms, where a professor (like Catherine Russell of Concordia University) would have her course withdrawn for having mentioned the only title of Vallières’ essay (so as not to highlight the fate of journalist Wendy Mesley, suspended by CBC after quoting the English translation of the same title).
Finally, it is important that university administrations, while participating in the discovery and abolition of all forms of systemic racism, ensure that the transmission of knowledge, the development of critical thinking and academic freedom, is protected. which can sometimes be exercised to the detriment of clientelism, but which participates in any form of genuine liberation.
- Pierre Anctil, full professor
- Denis Bachand, Professor emeritus
- Joël Beddows, associate professor
- Nathalie Bélanger, full professor
- Pierre Bélanger, full professor
- Marc-François Bernier, full professor
- Michel Bock, associate professor
- Louise Bouchard, full professor
- Geneviève Boucher, associate professor
- Marc Brosseau, full professor
- François Charbonneau, associate professor
- Nelson Charest, associate professor
- Christian Detellier, professor emeritus
- Louise Frappier, associate professor
- Lison-Nathalie Gagnon, part-time professor
- Anne Gilbert, professor emeritus
- Florian Grandena, associate professor
- Lucie Hotte, full professor
- Kasareka Kavwahirehi, full professor
- Charles Le Blanc, full professor
- José Lopez, full professor
- Brunella Masciantonio, part-time professor
- E.-Martin Meunier, full professor
- Isaac Nahon-Serfaty, associate professor
- Kevin Orr, full professor
- Anne-Marie Ouellet, assistant professor
- Sylvie Paquerot, associate professor
- Jonathan Paquette, full professor
- Maxime Prévost, full professor
- Andrew Taylor, full professor
- Geneviève Tellier, full professor
- Marie-Claude Thifault, full professor
- Christian Vandendorpe, professor emeritus
- Stéphane Vibert, full professor