Monday, January 6, 2014

Julie Beauchamp is awarded the Iron Fist for 2013

After careful consideration among many contenders, the Student Appeal Centre of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa awards the Iron Fist for the most unjust University of Ottawa Administrator to Julie Beauchamp, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Telfer School of Management. Ms. Beauchamp’s actions meet the criteria for the Iron Fist award which include ruthlessness, contempt for student rights, and overall lack of fairness in decision making.

Ms. Beauchamp’s nomination for the award comes after the Student Appeal Centre was called to represent students she had summoned to a disciplinary hearing. She indicated that the hearing was motivated by security reports (from Protection Services) filed following a non-academic incident that had occurred on campus a month earlier. Ms. Beauchamp charged that the alleged incident was a “grave violation of the ‘Telfer Code of Conduct’.”

The Student Appeal Centre, on behalf of the students, asked Ms. Beauchamp to provide the students with a copy of the documentation being used against them, namely the Protection Services security reports. In response, Ms. Beauchamp wrote, “I do not have the protection reports.” As a result, the meetings went ahead even though the students had not been informed of the content of any evidence that was being used against them. Following these meetings, and without the students being given any further opportunity to be heard, the Telfer School of Management imposed numerous disciplinary sanctions, going as far as suspension from school for one year.

Ms. Beauchamp’s involvement in imposing these draconian sanctions is even more troubling considering that a “Telfer Code of Conduct” does not exist. The closest such thing is a vague statement on the School’s website to the effect that its members are guided by six values whose first letters spell out the word T-E-L-F-E-R.

A request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FIPPA) was subsequently filed by the students. The documents obtained via FIPPA show, contrary to Ms. Beauchamp’s written statements, that Protections Services had in fact forwarded her a copy of the security reports on September 7, 2013, a full 28 days before the students asked for a copy.

By refusing to provide the students with the evidence used against them in disciplinary hearings, Ms. Beauchamp breached the student’s most fundamental rights to natural justice. It is self-evident that a person cannot fully and reasonably defend him- or herself without knowing the charges against him or her.

Having now seen the Security Reports, the SAC can confirm that the allegations against the students revolve around actions that are entirely non-academic in nature, and consist solely of having been impolite to campus protection officers. Thus, the disciplinary penalties were made without legitimate jurisdiction, and were grossly disproportionate to the alleged actions.

In summary, Julie Beauchamp breached the students’ rights to natural justice by denying them the evidence used against them prior to their defence, used a non-existent “Telfer Code of Conduct” to impose severe academic sanctions in response to a non-academic incident, and apparently lied to the students about which evidence was in her possession in order to circumvent due process. For these reasons, we announce Julie Beauchamp as the winner of the 2013 Iron Fist.

The past winners of the Iron Fist are Marie-Josée Berger (2011) and Thiery Giordano (2012).

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Student Federation's Centre for Equity and Human Rights Releases Report alerting the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Section to serious concerns and offering recommendations

The Centre for Equity and Human Rights (CEHR), a service offered by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa has released a public report which outlines concerns with regard to the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Section management of cases involving the duty to accommodate and students with disabilities. The vast majority of CEHR formal or informal cases occurring within the Common Law section of the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, are reported to pertain to the prohibited ground disability.

Identified barriers include problems with the accommodation process, the lack of willingness to render appeals related decisions which consider human rights perspectives and obligations and the upper management’s refusal to meet with student advocates.

The Student Appeal Centre has been witness to many of the concerns raised within CEHR’s report and strongly support their recommendations.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A long-overdue Iron Fist Award for Thierry Giordano, Vice-Dean Governance and Secretary, Faculty of Science

Every year, the Student Appeal Centre (SAC – Student Federation of the University of Ottawa) awards the Iron Fist to the University of Ottawa administrator having caught Student Appeal Officers’ attention for being most ruthless and/or unjust while showing little or no respect for students. This year, the Student Appeal Centre feels it has a duty to award the Iron Fist to Thierry Giornado for his egregious actions and threats made against former graduate student Philippe Marchand exactly five years ago today.

On April 27, 2007, then master’s student Phillippe Marchand met with Vice-Dean Governance and Secretary for the Faculty of Science Thierry Giornado. It was Giordano himself who had proposed the meeting following a public letter written by Marchand in which he questioned the Faculty’s refusal to add a motion to the agenda of its Faculty Council.

From the beginning of the meeting, Giordano treated Marchand in an aggressive manner, refused Marchand his right to be accompanied by another person to the meeting, and bombarded Marchand with a series of questions all the while interrupting him incessantly.

To make matters worse, Giordano then began verbally threatening Marchand with reprisals if he were to ever reveal the nature of their conversation to a third party. Giordano went on to say, “I am telling you right now, if at any time there is anything written about this conversation, or if I learn that you have used the content of this discussion to tell people ‘this is why they refused [to add the motion to the agenda of Faculty Council]’, if I hear that, I will attack you, is that clear?” (translated from French).

He also said: “Let it be very clear, first, I will not recognize, if you report anything, I will not recognize, but what’s more, I will ... I will attack you by saying it’s not true.”

This high-level intimidation by a member of the administration is not only horrifying and highly reprehensible, it is also prohibited under the Policy on Treatment of Graduate Students on non-academic and non-employment issues. Marchand immediately filed a complaint under this U of O policy but years later, the conflict remains to be investigated and is certainly not resolved. André E. Lalonde and Gary Slater, at the time the Deans of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Graduate Studies, both contributed to delaying the process needlessly which only further aggravated the damage caused to the student. 

It is of additional grave concern that the deans and the university administration continued to refuse to investigate the student’s formal complaint even after learning that a sound recording of Giordano’s attack exists.

For having treated a student with the utmost disrespect, for his refusal to apologize when directly asked to do so by the SAC in December 2008, and for blatantly threatening to attack a student, Thierry Giornado amply deserves the Iron Fist Award. The Student Appeal Centre re-iterates its request to Professor Giordano that he formally apologize to Philippe Marchand forthwith and demands that the overdue investigation in view of possible discipline be undertaken immediately.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Canada's University on Trial : Three medical doctors file multimillion-dollar joint civil action against the U of O and several officials

(OTTAWA, January 30, 2012) – Dr. Waleed AlGhaithy (Neurosurgery Residency Program, University of Ottawa), Dr. Khalid Aba-Alkhail (Cardiac Surgery Residency Program) and Dr. Manal Al-Saigh (same) have filed a joint action against the University of Ottawa and several of its officials.

Discrimination, conspiracy to injure, malfeasance in public office, breaches of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, defamation, breach of contract, and negligence are claimed against the University and several of its officials.

Among the individual defendants are Dr. Jacques Bradwejn – Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. James Worthington – Ottawa Hospital’s Vice-President of Medical Affairs and Patient Safety, Dr. Paul Bragg – Associate Dean Postgraduate Medical Education, Dr. Eric Poulin – Chair of the Department of Surgery, Dr. Therry Mesana – Chair of the Cardiac Surgery Division, Dr. Richard Moulton – Chair of the Neurosurgery Division, Dr. Fraser Rubens – Cardiac Surgery Program Director, and Dr. John Sinclair – former Neurosurgery Program Director.

The claim casts a spotlight on the state of medical training of foreign medical residents at both provincial and national levels in Canadian universities and illustrates some of the hurdles faced by foreign doctors at the U of O.

The plaintiffs’ case had garnered media attention in the Spring of 2011 when they held a press conference to announce that they had filed a Human Rights Complaint against the University of Ottawa.

They are represented by lawyers Douglas Christie and Barbara Kulaszka.

For more details please follow the link to the statement of claim: Aba-AlKhail et al. v. University of Ottawa et al. CV-11-440336

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Worst Administrator of the Year: And the winner is…Marie Josée Berger, Dean, Faculty of Education

After careful consideration involving many candidates the Student Appeal Centre (SFUO) awards its first yearly Iron Fist Award to Marie Josée Berger, Dean of the Faculty of Education since July 1, 2002.

The Iron Fist is awarded to the University of Ottawa Administrator having caught Student Appeal Officers’ attention for being most ruthless and/or unjust while showing little or no respect for students. The Award considers both long-term career contributions and particularly notable specific events.

In this case, Marie Josée Berger is well deserving of the Award, having been the object of several informal complaints at the Student Appeal Centre over many years.

For the 2010-2011 school year highlights include Marie Josée Berger’s refusal to respond and investigate at least three very serious complaints filed with her office, calling a student to her office only to belittle her after the case was already resolved in favour of the student, and threatening to impede her own graduate student’s progress in the program when the student expressed her desire to change supervisors.

For being the Dean of the Faculty that continually ranks first as the most frustrating and inefficient to deal with and for being all-round nasty and uncollegial, Marie Josée Berger is the winner of the 2010-2011 academic year’s Iron Fist Award.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Press Release: Three medical doctors jointly file human rights complaints against the University of Ottawa and several officials

Dr. Waleed AlGhaithy (Neurosurgery Residency Program, University of Ottawa), Dr. Khalid Aba-Alkhail (Cardiac Surgery Residency Program) and Dr. Ms. Manal Al-Saigh (same) have filed Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario complaints against the University of Ottawa and several officials.

They are represented by freedom of expression and human rights lawyer Douglas Christie.

A joint press conference will be held at 10:30am on Wednesday March 9, 2011, in the entrance rotunda of Tabaret Hall (central administration building), 550 Cumberland Ave., University of Ottawa.

Discrimination, reprisal, and intimidation are alleged on the basis of evidence filed with the Tribunal.

Dr. Aba-Alkail affirms that Senator Dr. Wilbert Keon, Dr. Paul Bragg, Dr. James Worthington, Dr. Thierry Mesana, and others collectively intimidated him behind closed doors to drop a legal reparation case under threat of career obliteration.

The evidence for reprisal and targeting is unambiguous in the form of emails between hospital executives, including emails leaked by an inside source and sent to hundreds of faculty and residents.

For example, on July 11, 2009, Chairman of Neurosurgery Richard Moulton wrote to Dr. Paul Bragg (Associate Dean PGME) and Dr. James Worthington (VP Medical Affairs of TOH) about plaintiff Dr. AlGaithy:

“If the [discrimination] complaint against [Dr. Eve Tsai] is dismissed there are going to have to be some significant consequences for the involved parties (dismissal/suspension) or we are going to be facing this ad infinitum.”

AlGaithy was summarily dismissed despite his outstanding academic and professional standing.

The March 9th press conference is organized by the Student Appeal Centre (SAC) of the Student Federation University of Ottawa (SFUO), following the SAC’s 2008 report about systemic racism at the University of Ottawa.

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For more information about the press conference please contact:

Mireille Gervais, LL.L

Director, Student Appeal Centre, SFUO

cell: 613-261-6647

Friday, February 11, 2011

Freedom of Information Documents Show Joanne St.Lewis’ Lack of Independence from Central Administration

In 2008 the Student Appeal Centre published a report which focused on the many injustices and unfair treatment faced by students accused of academic fraud. Numbers revealed that the majority of the students who had consulted the SAC to seek advice concerning accusations of academic fraud were visible minorities – some of whom had openly been targeted because of their ethnic origin. The SAC had warned President Allan Rock of the problem months before but his administration failed to address the problem.

When the SAC’s annual report came out the upper administration asked one of its common law professors and then Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Joanne St.Lewis, to conduct what they referred to as an “independent evaluation” of the SAC’s report. Joanne St.Lewis accepted and her evaluation was emailed to every single professor and student at the University.

Within the first few lines of her report, Joanne St.Lewis claims her independence and immediately qualifies our annual report as unsubstantiated, inflammatory and inconclusive. Joanne St.Lewis’ conclusion was that the data we had provided was too limited to support our conclusion of systemic racism. She indicated that “the entire analysis and its conclusion are based on less than 1% of the total university population” and that the SAC data was “too limited to enable any analysis”.

However, this conclusion did not deter the Administration from requesting that the SAC provide all of its confidential data to Joanne St.Lewis. In a letter dated March 24, 2009 the then Vice-President Academic Robert Major informed the SAC that Mrs. St.Lewis had been asked to conduct an independent systemic review of the student academic fraud appeals process and asked the SAC to collaborate with Mrs. St.Lewis namely by sharing all of its data. The SAC responded that the University was in possession of the integral data on academic fraud and that the only information the University could possibly obtain that it did not already have was the identity of the SAC’s clients.

In the summer of 2009 the SAC filed a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to obtain all communications regarding the Centre’s work. The documents obtained confirmed our concerns regarding Joanne St.Lewis’ independence from the administration and revealed the following:

  • Upon meeting with Robert Major, Joanne St.Lewis browsed through a few lines of the SAC report, was outraged by what she read, and immediately accepted to write an evaluation of the report.
  • Joanne St.Lewis sent her draft evaluation to Robert Major and Allan Rock saying that she was “happy to respond to any suggestions that [they] may have.”
  • Allan Rock commented on the wording of Joanne St.Lewis’ first recommendation saying “my only concern is with the first recommendation, the wording of which seems to assume that there is some racism present already. Since Professor St.Lewis already concluded that there is no evidence of it, such wording is wrong and inconsistent with her own report. [] One last point, I would like Robert to be the only point of contact for us with Professor St.Lewis. Although her report is excellent it may be criticized as not being “independent” from the administration. So far, our dealings with her have been through Robert, and have been scrupulously objective. We have simply sought her view, and have imposed no limitations, constraints or conditions. She has been entirely free to say anything she wants. In order to maintain this professional and objective relationship with her, I want Robert to be the only one in communication with her. Robert can simply observe that the first recommendation is inconsistent with her findings. It will then be up to Professor St.Lewis to decide whether to make a change. If a number of people all send emails and call, we will lose that focus of professionalism and independence.
  • The University arranged for Mrs St.Lewis to speak on CBC morning radio.
  • Prior to the interview Robert Major emailed Mrs St.Lewis to say “a thought occurred to me and I’m sorry to have missed it. The report of the SAC deals with appeals in courses. In truth if one calculates the full time equivalent of students (each student taking a number of courses per year) the number of course registration is approximately 240 000! So we have a few possible cases out of a possible number of over 200K. And the SAC is slandering the whole University based on that sampling”.
  • Joanne St.Lewis reported back to Robert Major after her interview with CBC saying that she “tried to work in the additional info on the context of courses versus individual cases so I hope that they keep it in.
  • In March 2009 Joanne St.Lewis wrote a lengthy letter to Robert Major thanking him for having appointed her to conduct a systemic review of the student academic fraud appeals process. In this letter Joanne St.Lewis asks the Administration to write a letter to the SAC “asking them to cooperate with me in the sharing of the data and reassuring them that I will be independent of the University and that all personal information provided will be strictly confidential and that any reports will not in any way reflect said information or be available for use by the administration.

The access to information documents show a close collaboration between the Administration and St.Lewis in elaborating the final report, in securing media access, and in dealing with media messaging. In addition, there is troubling evidence of a cover up of the lack of independence engineered by the President himself.

Joanne St.Lewis was an untenured professor charged with a high profile task and she elaborated her final report and her media work in communication with the Administration, yet she wrote in her report that her evaluation was “independent”. She knew or should have known that her high profile public report about racism in academic fraud appeals could not be characterized as independent.

The most troubling aspect of the St.Lewis exchanges with the Administration and their report is a total lack of admitting the possibility of the systemic racism or unequitable procedure indicated by the SAC report.

Since the publication of the 2008 SAC report the University has introduced an accelerated process for dealing with academic fraud cases. In cases eligible to the accelerate process, students who agree to recognize guilt, whether voluntary of involuntary, receive the guarantee that their case will be dealt with within fifteen business days. For students wishing to defend themselves via the regular process, the administration continues not to be bound by any time limit for dealing with the case. The SAC has observed many cases where students opt for the accelerated process although they believe to be innocent in order to avoid having to deal with further administrative delays.

Our most recent data concerning academic fraud continues to show that more than half the students who consulted the SAC concerning accusations of academic fraud are visible minorities.