Silenced at Carleton U — School of Journalism must apologize for shameful threats against students

Once again, I am utterly ashamed of my alma mater, and specifically, the School of Journalism and Communications at Carleton University.

Students were complaining about an advisor’s lack of office hours on the Spotted at Carleton U Facebook page, and the School of Journalism took it upon themselves to send threatening letters to everyone who commented on the page.

I hopefully don’t need to point out the irony in the Journalism department trying to stifle freedom of speech. But I am not terribly surprised — while I was a student there, I was constantly told not to write about certain subjects, or that certain viewpoints shouldn’t be given coverage because those people were wrong. In one example, I had a journalism professor compare climate change scientists who disagreed with the IPCC consesus to holocaust deniers — an attack on the National Post, who had just published a series of articles outlining dissenting opinions.

Speaking of the Holocaust, the other departments at Carleton weren’t much better. I once had the chair of the history department explain in a class why “some people” think the Holocaust never happened. In the same breath, he went on to explain why George W. Bush was worse than Hitler.

In a political science class, I had a TA dock my essay marks, because I refused to state in a paper that Tim Hudak was a homophobe and a misogynist. As someone who took part in the Ontario PC leadership race, had met Tim Hudak personally, and went on to work for him for several years, I was obviously not going to say such an absurd thing about a good man.

Myself, and several other conservatives in the class, all received awful marks on that assignment. After doing a little bit of research, we found that same TA was a member of such Facebook groups as “Counting down the days until Margaret Thatcher dies”, and other fashionably hateful groups attacking conservatives. When I approached my professor about this, he bumped my grade up 5% and called it a day — and there were absolutely no consequences for the TA.

It is amazing that so many universities can get away with such tremendous intellectual dishonesty. A university should be the best place in the world for open, honest, intellectual discussions. Instead, they have become a place where groupthink has become the norm, and dissenting viewpoints are silenced.

While I was at the university, I saw the very worst of what it had to offer in the form of student government. Our student association gained international notoriety for its preposterous decision to stop funding a cystic fibrosis fundraiser because the disease allegedly “only affects white men.” At the time, I was quite angry about it, and the students who were responsible. But in retrospect, it was made possible by the faculty and the administration, who have created a hostile, anti-intellectual environment, where these kind of ideas thrive, and independent thinkers are made to suffer.

And the worst possible place for that type of thinking to take hold is at the School of Journalism and Communications — where freedom of speech should be valued above all else. If students aren’t safe to ask for better office hours, what on earth will they be safe to talk about?

The school needs to publicly apologize to the students it threatened or risk its reputation being tarnished forever.


Dean Tester


11 thoughts on “Silenced at Carleton U — School of Journalism must apologize for shameful threats against students

  1. It is a sad state of affairs when a legitimate complaint that does not personally attack a staff member get labeled as bullying. It seems that Carleton University has forgotten what customer service, free speech and constructive criticism actually mean.

    Shame on the University administration for what they have done and hopefully a little public shaming (which is different than bullying) will bring them to their senses.

  2. As a Carleton Alumni, it is alarming to me that this is still problematic as they seem to be ignoring the reality of the Spotted post. There is a strong need for more than one academic advisor that is accessible to the students of the Communications/Journalism program. In my final year, the academic advisor would always end our [rare] appointments with, “send me an e-mail if you have any further questions” and never respond – I’m sure to due the volume of e-mails she was receiving.

    There is no alternative to get answers about program inquiries, requirements, etc as even Professors refer you to the 1 academic advisor that is unfortunately limited in access. Carleton needs to address the real issue here head on and understand the needs of this massive department!

  3. As a current student, I am sorry to report that, in my experience, any conservative ideas will cost you marks on most essays.

    To make things better, there have been several conservative speakers whose events were cancelled due to backlash from a vocal minority.

    Intellectual honesty is dead at Carleton University.

  4. All my friend did was “like” the original post. There are comments on the post that do mention names and are verging on bullying, but that doesn’t mean everyone who so much as liked the original post should be penalised. Only the rude comments should warrant any form of further investigation.

    But back to my friend: she is terrified that they thracked her down. She doesn’t use her surname on facebook and has mega high-security settings because of her PTSD (and the minor paranoia that comes along with it). If the school administrators can find her, who’s to say her rapist can’t?
    So, not only has the school overreacted to this ordeal but they have also caused some serious problems for my friend’s mental health.

    Thanks, Carleton, so glad I didn’t attend you.

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  6. Sucks that an educational institution tried to get you to question your political views. I’m so glad you managed to pull through without falling for it. Critical self-reflection is a liberal conspiracy.

  7. Thank you for taking the time to write this great article. I hope it will have some impact, but given the current intellectual climate, I remain pessimistic. Hopefully that will change through the work of insightful writers such as yourself. I am sure you will go far in Journalism, or whatever industry you want to pursue. God bless.

  8. Were there other comments below the original post that were harsher in their language or tenor?

    The original post does not warrant that kind of response.

    Who received that letter from Carleton U

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