This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Uncompromising "Scholarly" Oral Tradition?

"Although contributions to scholarship necessarily involve a combination of quality and quantity, generally we would expect to see five to six peer-reviewed, significant publications by the time you seek tenure."
Dean, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia

"[There is] nothing about indigeneity that prevents an indigenous person from having the capability of meeting the  university's requirements."
"[Lorna June McCue] had not even commenced to meet [the standard]."
UBC lawyers

"I was doing teaching with my community -- they should value the teaching I am doing with my community."
"This is work that does not fit conveniently into an academic timetable, but it is vital."
Former law professor Lorna June McCue
Lorn June McCue has alleged that peer-reviewed research is contrary to indigenous oral traditions and that UBC’s research standard effectively discriminated against her “race, colour, ancestry, place of origin … and sex.”
Jenelle Schneider/Postmedia News  Lorna June McCue has alleged that peer-reviewed research is contrary to indigenous oral traditions and that UBC’s research standard effectively discriminated against her “race, colour, ancestry, place of origin … and sex.”
Exceptionalism, that is how people who feel entitled by virtue of their special place in society, should be viewed and treated; the general imposition of expectations that hold true for everyone else should be waived for them because they are so special. Former professor of law at University of British Columbia, a hereditary chief with the Ned'u'ten people of the Lake Babine First Nation in British Columbia, she acted as the director of First Nations Legal Studies at UBC.

She is now making representation to a provincial human rights tribunal that she was denied tenure and dismissed when, in her opinion, after 11 years at the university she had proven herself ready to be elevated to permanent staff. That this did not occur was not her fault, she contends, since she produced all that was required of her as an aboriginal with her own traditions, but the fault of the university which insisted on imposing on her "significant compromise" away from First Nations' oral tradition which she felt should replace the scholarship evidence the university required of her.

All professorial staff at the university are advised that to be considered for tenure they are expected to publish at least up to five and if possible more, academic papers in their field of study for publication in a respected scholarly peer-review journal. The matter was addressed to Ms. McCue directly. She insisted her indigenous oral tradition should have superseded the university's requirements. She had, she insisted, attended conferences, made submissions to UN bodies and contributed chapters in non-peer-reviewed publications.

The university, she claims, forces indigenous scholars to compromise their research through insisting it be contained in non-oral forms. "The essence of her position is that UBC's stance forces her, as an indigenous scholar, to be someone she is not", a tribunal document stated in encapsulating the petition by Ms. McCue. It was pointed out that this person simply kept ignoring warnings that she must generate peer-reviewed research if she were to expect tenure, as other indigenous scholars at the university had done themselves.

Certainly, the university went out of its way to encourage Ms. McCue to exert herself as required.
She was given eight months free of teaching to enable her to place her focus solely on producing research papers for publication. In that period her sole publication was an eight-page article that appeared as a chapter in a non-peer-reviewed work. Tribunal documents took note of this discrepancy: "[UBC] does not and need not weigh unknown, unreported and unpublished work as heavily as peer-reviewed publications."

This indigenous professor doesn't appear to have been someone who earned respect and admiration among the students she taught. Many noted she seemed to them to be unprepared, unschooled and unhelpful. She noted in her CV that as an academic she has been "successful in collaborating with legal professionals that work with indigenous peoples". That, and a paid-up plane ticket can get you to Disneyland.

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