Laurier University Tapes Signal a Much Wider Problem
Last week a troubling story was exposed about a grad student at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) facing censure from her own department and an HR official.
Lindsay Shepherd, a Master’s student in Communications studies, was put through the ringer by Nathan Rambukkana, an assistant professor in the department and her supervisor.
Her offence? Shepherd, in an undergrad tutorial she taught, played a few minutes from the TV Ontario public affairs program The Agenda, featuring an exchange between now famous professor Jordan Peterson and a lesser known instructor Nicholas Matte.
The topic? The same that brought Peterson international attention: gender neutral pronouns.
That week’s class was on gender issues so, Shepherd reasoned, it only made sense to play a brief exchange featuring two passionate, differing opinions. Not according to the one or more students who, she was later told, made an anonymous complaint.
Rambukkana told her that playing the exchange in class was equivalent to presenting Adolf Hitler’s theories in a neutral light. Going forward, her lessons would need approval. This left Shepherd – a self-described leftist – in tears, fearing for her future at the school after being victim to such a bullying session.
The story captured international attention. But it was her word against theirs. And Rambukkana didn’t respond to various media requests (and he appears to have closed his Twitter amidst the furor).
So you could, if you were so inclined, dismiss this as just one side of the story.
Not anymore. Now we have the tapes and if anything they’re worse than reported. Shepherd secretly recorded the exchange, with Global News posting 10 minutes of it online. It’s damning stuff.
Check it out for yourself, but here are some of Rambukkana’s worst lines chastising Shepherd for playing the video:
“These types of arguments are counter to the Canadian Human Rights Code.”
“The reality is this has created a toxic climate for some of the students.”
“You’re perfectly welcome to your own opinions but when you’re bringing them into the context of the classroom that can become problematic.”
“You have to think of the kind of teaching climate you’re creating.”
That last line is the one that should be thrown back in the faces of any school instructor or administrator who thinks this conduct is acceptable.
They’re creating a climate where employers will think twice before hiring arts and science grads from WLU. Parents and prospective students will be reluctant to fork over hard earned money for nothing more than basement blog quality indoctrination.
To paint the whole school with the same brush would be a shame, so WLU needs to send a signal that condemns these shenanigans. But a statement by WLU president Deborah MacLatchy suggests we shouldn’t hold our breath.
MacLatchy calls the situation “complex” and says a task force will be called. There’s no whiff of condemnation against the bullies in her statement. This is a problem.
How many other such incidents are occurring? Not every student will feel able to take a stand like Shepherd. And, even if they do, how many will have audio evidence?
It’s one thing for Antifa-style loons to overrun campus when they’re students. It’s quite another when faculty are the perpetrators.
Students need to feel someone out there will stand up for them. These sorts of agendas don’t operate in a vacuum. There are no doubt more Lindsay Shepherds out there.