A University of the Fraser Valley faculty member was rapped for academic misconduct sometime over the last three years, but the university won’t disclose any details on the identity of the instructor or his or her specific misdeeds.
Last November, The News submitted a freedom of information request to UFV asking for records related to allegations of harassment, abuse or misconduct by faculty and staff.
A January response from the university revealed that four complaints of harassment, sexualized violence, discrimination or abuse by faculty had been made over the previous three years. None of those complaints, though, resulted in an investigatory panel’s finding of misconduct. Details of the allegations were not released.
The News also requested any records relating to breaches of UFV’s academic misconduct policy. On that front, too, UFV would not release any details. But it did disclose that, on one occasion in the last three years, a faculty member was found to have breached its Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship Policy. No other complaints regarding the policy were filed.
UFV says the Freedom of Information Act prohibits it from releasing information that “may give rise to an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy.”
The News has appealed to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, arguing that it would not be “unreasonable” to disclose the identity of faculty members found to have engaged in misconduct.
The university’s Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship Policy says misconduct can include fabrication, falsification, destruction of research records to avoid detection of wrongdoing, plagiarism, inaccurate authorship attribution, inadequate acknowledgment, conflict-of-interest issues, mismanagement of research funds, or the re-publication of one’s own work without acknowledgment or justification.
Because UFV would not release details about the allegation or the punishment handed down, it’s unclear exactly how the faculty member breached the policy or how serious the breach was.
The News asked UFV about the prospect of an instructor found to have breached academic standards teaching students about those same principles.
“UFV has high academic and conduct standards, and policies and processes in place, to guide and enforce these standards for faculty and students,” Dave Pinton, the university’s director of communications, wrote in an email. “While an individual’s conduct may be examined under these polices, the expectation is that if, after going through the formal process an individual is deemed able to remain at UFV, they are capable of (and must) meet those standards going forward.”
The university’s academic misconduct policy says: “When the Provost and Vice-President Academic determines it to be in the best interests of the university, a report on the investigation of misconduct and its outcome will be disseminated to persons with a legitimate interest in knowing about them, such as the research subjects themselves or a co-investigator.” The policy says such a report wouldn’t identify the parties.
The News also asked whether UFV would inform students if faculty were found to have engaged in harassment or abuse and disciplined but not fired.
“If a complaint involves an allegation of criminal behavior, local law enforcement will be informed,” Pinton wrote in an email.
“Any request for information about the names of faculty or staff found to have engaged in harassment, discrimination, or other abuse would be considered separately and with regard to relevant circumstances and UFV’s obligations under [the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act].”
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