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CAUT supports Carleton U prof’s refusal to sign away his academic freedom

The Canadian Association of University Teachers supports Professor Root Gorelick’s decision to refuse to sign an agreement that would prevent him from speaking publicly about open sessions of Carleton University Board meetings.

“We applaud and support Professor Gorelick’s principled decision to resist pressure to suppress his academic freedom and free speech rights,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Carleton’s policy for its Board of Governors is egregious and runs contrary to the principles of openness and transparency needed for good governance at a public institution.”

Carleton’s Statement of General Duties, Fiduciary Responsibilities, and Conflict of Interest imposes a lifetime ban on board members from reporting or commenting on public sessions of board meetings. Professor Gorelick is a faculty representative of the Board of Governors, elected by academic staff at Carleton University. He frequently blogs about the proceedings of the meetings, but would be restricted from continuing to do so if he signed the revised statement. He was given until December 14, 2015 to decide whether he would sign the agreement.

“This policy has the effect of imposing a gag order on Professor Gorelick and could be seen as a direct retaliation against him for the content of his public blog,” said Robinson. “Such tactics have no place in a post-secondary institution where open discussion and free debate are its cornerstone.”

On November 28th, at CAUT’s Council meeting, a motion was unanimously passed to condemn Carleton’s Board of Governors for enacting this policy and to initiate the censure process unless it is reversed.