CAUT is upholding academic freedom by supporting the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) in the grievance of Rima Azar, associate professor of psychology. Azar authors a personal blog, under a pseudonym, in which she sometimes makes controversial comments on contemporary social and political issues. A former student discovered the blog, publicly identified Azar as the author, and alleged that Azar’s comments were discriminatory.
In response, Mount Allison University emailed a statement to students and staff in which it declared that it did not support or agree with the blog posts, that it would be conducting a review, and invited anyone who wished to make a complaint to do so through email. Several students then filed official complaints about Azar’s blog, and the University launched an investigation under questionable grounds. Azar’s academic freedom was pushed aside during and after the investigation.
CAUT’s view is that Azar’s comments did not justify discipline, and are protected by academic freedom. Despite MAFA’s strong defence, the University suspended Azar for seven months without pay and she has been vilified on campus. Arbitration is tentatively scheduled for spring 2022.