In a report released last month, a CAUT investigatory committee fully vindicated history professor Michael Mason against actions taken by the Queen’s University administration.
In October 2011 his history class (HIST 283, Making of the Third World) was cancelled and the course subsequently reassigned to another faculty member after Mason was accused of racism for quotes he included in his lectures from historical documents he felt showed the persistence of colonial attitudes in contemporary times.
The committee unambiguously supported Mason’s teaching and specifically noted that: “Mason discharged his duties diligently and in keeping with both disciplinary conventions and professional standards,” the Sept. 20 report says.
The committee also found the administration violated the academic freedom of Mason and acted “callously and irresponsibly” in how it handled complaints about his teaching. “It is our conclusion that administrative employees and officers of Queen’s University abused their power and acted in disregard of the wellbeing of one of their teaching employees. We find further, that Professor Mason was denied basic rights, and that academic freedom, both as commonly understood and as defined in the collective agreement between Queen’s University Faculty Association and Queen’s University, was seriously violated.”
The committee has called on the university to issue a letter of apology to Mason and that the letter be placed in his file and published in the university newspaper. The committee has also recommended that, to offset damage to Mason’s four-decade career as a historian, Queen’s history department establish a $4,000 bursary in his name.
“The report vindicates professor Mason and makes useful recommendations to remedy the situation,” said CAUT executive director James Turk. “We urge the university administrators to implement the recommendations out of a sense of fairness to Mason and in order to prevent a similar situation befalling any other faculty member at Queen’s.”