Canadian Association of University Teachers

Response by Jim Turk to question asked by faculty member at Simon Fraser University that was distributed to SFU's Faculty Forum

June 25, 2007

You asked me for CAUT's  position in relation to the reports of the outcome of the UCU annual meeting.

There is a good deal of misinformation about the actions of the UCU as major newspapers covering the story and writing editorials and various university presidents have failed to check their facts before rushing to denounce what never happened.

A the annual Congress of the University and College Union (UCU), a resolution was passed that instructs the unions National Executive Committee to:

Contrary to how the motion was widely characterized in the press here in Canada and overseas, it is important to note that passage of the resolution does not mean that an academic boycott is in place.  It only means that individual UCU branches and their members will now debate the pros and cons of a boycott.

CAUT does not have a policy on international academic boycotts, nor do we normally comment on policies or decisions taken through the internal democratic structures of our sister organizations.  In this case, we have not condemned UCU for encouraging a discussion of a contentious issue since unfettered discussion, evaluation and critique are the essence of academic freedom.  In any case, UCU has not called for a boycott.

Yours sincerely,
James L. Turk
Executive Director
Canadian Association of University Teachers