Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Have an Idea: Let's Investigate the CAUT

Redeemer University College has announced that it will not be cooperating with the CAUT's "investigation." Instead they want dialogue about the CAUT's premise that no Christian university ever could have academic freedom.

From The National Post:

A Christian university accused of stifling academic freedom said Wednesday it would no longer co-operate with the investigation by Canada’s largest teachers’ federation.

“The report’s findings are a foregone conclusion,” said Hubert Krygsman, president of Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont.

The college issued a news release late Wednesday saying it would gladly discuss the issues with the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) but would not submit to an official process.

“Instead, Redeemer has invited the CAUT to an open and honest philosophical discussion about differing paradigms of academic freedom and the relation of faith to learning,” the release says.

CAUT was not available for comment on Wednesday.

I don't imagine the CAUT wants a philosophical debate on the issue. They depend on a sneaky tactic to influence public opinion against Christian universities because their argument have no substance.

Now for the back-peddling. From The National Post yesterday:

The country’s largest association of university teachers has vowed to change how it investigates Christian schools over allegations that faculty are required to sign statements of faith.

James Turk, head of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), said Tuesday that his group would no longer send a team of investigators to uncover what critics say was readily available by a phone call.

“In hindsight we started out using our elaborate investigative procedures because we wanted to be fair to the institutions,” said Mr. Turk. “We didn’t want to say the schools were doing something inappropriate without checking it out carefully.”

CAUT, which represents 65,000 faculty members, has issued lengthy reports on three schools since 2006 that took months to complete. They concluded that Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Crandall University in New Brunswick and Canadian Mennonite in Winnipeg made faculty sign a statement of Christian belief as a requirement of employment. A fourth school, Redeemer University College in Ontario, is now under investigation.

The targeted schools, none of whose faculty belong to CAUT, said the investigations were not necessary because the statement of faith requirements were readily available on their websites and in their academic catalogues.

But by taking months to investigate and then issuing a lengthy report on their findings, CAUT created an air of doubt about the schools that has resulted in some parents and donors wondering whether there was a problem, said Justin Cooper, president of Christian Higher Education Canada, the umbrella group of Canada’s 33 private Christian universities and colleges.

The issue here was never whether or not Christian schools have a faith statement that faculty signs. Everyone knows that; in fact, it is a selling point that these universities use to promote themselves to potential students, parents and donors. It is part of their whole reason for existence.

But some left-wing radicals at the CAUT don't like Christianity or Christian universities, so they invented a phony "investigation" and sent out Captain Obvious out to do an investigation that would breathlessly report back that indeed, what the PR literature and the Academic Calendar and the university website all state is, in fact, (gasp!) actually true!

As Cooper points out the purpose of this charade is merely to create an atmosphere of suspicion around Christian universities and thus harm them.

I think Canadian universities should get together and raise a sum of money to mount an advertising campaign around the theme: "Hated by the CAUT; you know you can trust us with your kids!" In other words, turn the tables and use some pointed humor to skewer the witch hunters. What they are doing depends on confusion, misinformation and half truths. The best way to fight back is to shine the search light on them.

I would even go further. I would announce the formation of an investigative committee to probe the ideological leanings of the CAUT. The purpose of this committee would be to bring to light the political positions taken by CAUT over the past couple of decades and the range of ideological positions taken by its staff. Questions to be answered would include:

1. Does the CAUT represent a wide range of political, religious, ethical and social views or does it represent only a narrow swath of such views as compared to the Canadian public?

2. Are any religious people working for CAUT and on its governing board? Are any of them Christian? Are any of them Evangelicals?

3. Does the CAUT approve of programs in Canadian universities that require professors to hold a certain ideology such as Gender Studies professorships?

4. Does the CAUT campaign for free speech on campus or does it seen rigid speech codes?

5. Has the CAUT targeted any non-Christians schools for investigation? Does it plan to do so?

6. Has the CAUT membership as a whole endorsed this witch hunt or was it dreamed up by a cadre of paid staff?

The point would be to show that the CAUT is being used by radicals using Alinsky-inspired tactics to undermine Christian institutions as part of a wider agenda of Cutural Marxism.


Peter W. Dunn said...

I don't suppose you missed this particular blog at the American Thinker:

Political correctness, not doctrinal statements, is the number killer of academic freedom in North America.

Craig Carter said...

Thanks, Peter. I'm going to blog about FIRE.