K.G. of Beaconsfield writes
The dean has sent me a “letter of counselling.” She assures me the letter is non-disciplinary, but I am not so certain about that. What should I do? Perhaps this is something I can best handle quietly, on my own, or maybe I could simply ignore it?
David Robinson answers
Letters such as this are not as benign as they may seem. Speak immediately with your academic staff association to discuss the situation and the potential perils such letters can bring. Quietly trying to fix this on your own, or simply ignoring it, is not a good idea. For example, even though the letter is labelled “non-disciplinary,” the administration may still be able to rely on it in the future to demonstrate that you were aware of a problem that needed to be rectified, and took no steps to address it. Your association can clarify if the dean has a right under the collective agreement to communicate in this way, if you have a right of reply to correct any mistakes in the letter, and if such a reply is a good idea. It may be that the dean’s allegation is without merit. Or perhaps there are mitigating circumstances? Possibly you are engaging in a pattern of unacceptable behavior that genuinely needs to be addressed? Your academic staff association can review the situation and advise on the best course of action.