University censorship denial

Professor Manfredi of McGill University recently pointed out that we must defend academic freedom while ensuring that everyone feels included in our universities. This is a possible ideal, provided that neither academic freedom nor issues of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) become radicalized. If there were radicalization of one, it would give professors who, in the name of academic freedom, would hold a hateful or unnecessarily hurtful speech. When there is radicalization of the other, and this is undeniably the case in our universities, this results in activists who censor in the name of a so-called absolute good.

The Cloutier commission surveys demonstrated that there is censorship among teachers, but also among students. Our own data, drawn from a survey still in progress but already counting more than 2,000 Canadian students, including approximately 1,350 in Quebec, shows that approximately 50% of students have censored themselves during discussions on campus, and that when these students speak, about 20% have been censored by others. People who say they are non-binary, then men, would be more often the subject of censorship; thus, our EDI policies not only fail to protect non-binary people, a marginalized group, but they have created a new one, men. The problem seems worse among English speakers; McGill sadly ranks number one when it comes to censorship.

While our rectors claim that the university is a place of exchange and debate, 20 to 50% of students are afraid to tackle controversial or delicate subjects. 35-75% fear being told their point of view is “offensive” or that it violates university policy, or that their grades will be affected. 20% do not trust the university to defend their right to express themselves.

But let’s leave the numbers aside and get back to the individual experience. When I was director of graduate studies in counseling psychology, I was told how theories are censored in some courses, and how only one point of view is considered acceptable, any opposition being qualified as immoral ; the students are therefore silent. I have also been told that some professors recommend that intern students criticize a patient who, in psychotherapy, would have a statement that could be considered homophobic, instead of above all welcoming it with its torments and its biases.

It is argued that asking a minority person where they are from is micro-aggression, that masculinity is toxic, and that the use of non-Western therapeutic techniques (e.g., . meditation) is cultural appropriation. It is claimed that there is no difference between men and women and that sex and gender are strictly social constructs; this would not be just one theory among others, but rather a fact that should not be disputed. The result is that the patient is reduced to the groups to which he belongs, with a rigid interpretative framework which certainly allows the trainee to contain the anxiety linked to the unknown, but also to no longer allow himself to be touched and to neglect the singularity.

A student thus refused to report a case of abuse to the DPJ because the family is Amerindian and the DPJ would only be an extension of the boarding schools which caused so much suffering. Another refused to call 911 for a patient in a suicidal crisis, because sending the police would necessarily lead to brutality, the patient being black. All of this leads to clinical tension, an inability to think about the other, which is essential in clinical practice.

These students are left to their own devices with a handful of professors who are champions of a social justice that no longer has anything to do with justice, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, professors who prefer to look the other way . However, students and their teachers should claim loud and clear a quality education, based on science and not a simplistic ideology and feelings, as well as a right to express themselves, to question and to think. More than anything, they must claim the right to make mistakes, necessary to perfect themselves. Faced with the denial of certain university directors, only a law will allow us to correct the situation.

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University censorship denial

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