Sorry not sorry

So it appears Laurier is feeling a little embarrassed, or at least a little uncomfortable. It’s apologized to Lindsay Shepherd.

The president of Wilfrid Laurier University said the school is proceeding with a third-party investigation into the dispute with graduate student Lindsay Shepherd, but said recently revealed audio recordings of her interactions with her immediate superiors made it clear an apology was in order.

Shepherd said she discreetly recorded a meeting with three Laurier faculty and staff members in which she was roundly criticized for failing to condemn the views of polarizing University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, who has refused to use gender-neutral pronouns. She had aired a clip of a debate featuring the professor as part of a communications tutorial.

Three people, to shame and berate one grad student.

“The conversation I heard does not reflect the values and practices to which Laurier aspires,” the university’s president, Deborah MacLatchy, said in a statement Tuesday. “I am sorry it occurred in the way that it did and I regret the impact it had on Lindsay Shepherd.”

Shepherd said she accepted and welcomed the apology, but felt it rang hollow coming on the heels of intensive media attention around her case.

The saga began earlier this month when Shepherd led two tutorial groups of students taking a first-year communications course.

As part of a lesson on the complexities of grammar, Shepherd said she was trying to demonstrate that the structure of a language can impact the society in which its spoken in ways people might not anticipate.

To illustrate her point, she said she mentioned that long-standing views on gender had likely been shaped by the gender-specific pronouns that are part of English’s fundamental grammatical structure.

And her use of the clip with Peterson was part of that illustration; attribution not use.

Rambukkana also apologized in an open letter to Shepherd…sort of apologized. Passive-aggressively half apologized and half said he was still right.

“While I still think that such material needs to be handled carefully, especially so as to not infringe on the rights of any of our students or make them feel unwelcome in the learning environment, I believe you are right that making a space for controversial or oppositional views is important, and even essential to a university,” he wrote in the letter.

“The trick is how to properly contextualize such material.”

Rambukkana also apologized for meeting with Shepherd in the company of two other colleagues, responding to criticism that such a set-up demonstrated a power imbalance.

Ya think? Bully.

12 Responses to “Sorry not sorry”