{Published by the University of Waterloo administration as an official document on its website from June 1994 to the summer of 1998, and as an article from the UW Gazette continuously since 1994; published since July 2003 by Kenneth Westhues, Professor of Sociology, University of Waterloo, as part of the Documentary History of the UW Ethics Committee, 1982-1998.)


June 6, 1994

Open Letter to the University of Waterloo Community:

On May 9, 1994, I received the report of an Ethics Hearing
Committee on a complaint brought against Dr. Ken Westhues by Dr. Adie
Nelson, both of whom are faculty members in the Department of
Sociology. Dr. Nelson's complaint was stated as follows:
"My complaint is that Professor Westhues attacked my professional
integrity beginning with my work as chair of a Ph.D. comprehensive exam
committee... . Professor Westhues' conduct towards me, which has
included written and verbal assaults upon my personal integrity, my
status as a scholar, and my role within the department, has gone far
beyond the bounds of proper and allowable behaviour."
This complaint was considered by a Hearing Committee consisting of
Dr. Sally Gunz (Chair), Dr. Don Brodie, and Ms. Patti Hayworth. The
enquiry dealt with the professional relationship between Dr. Nelson and
Dr. Westhues. It did not extend to an enquiry into the examination
itself, nor did it involve a review of what might have happened in
recent months between Dr. Westhues and other members of the Department
of Sociology.
Among the items considered by the Committee was a letter written
on March 15th by Dr. Westhues to Professor Gail Grant of the University
of Guelph which was included in a March 24th mailing by Professor Grant
to numerous individuals across Canada.
The Committee found that:
> The Respondent was in violation of Policy 33. His behaviour
constituted an attack on the Complainant's competence and character in
a number of ways.
> The Respondent's attack on the Complainant's security within the
Department amounted to an interference with her ability to perform her
academic duties.
> To date, no apology that would be appropriate or acceptable in
the context of the dispute has been received by the Complainant.
> The distribution of the March 15, 1994, "Dear Gail" letter to be
a further attack on the Complainant's competence and character. Its
effect, whether intended or not, may well be to damage her ability to
perform her academic duties at the University of Waterloo or elsewhere.
That letter also put a new spin on this matter; it served to extend the
misinformation to the broader academic/professional community.
> The Respondent's case that the interactions were part of the
normal "cut and thrust" of academic life is not accepted.
One of the Committee's recommendations was that Dr. Westhues be
required to write an apology to be distributed to recipients of the
March 15th letter, to the Gazette and via the Internet. Prior to its
distribution, the response was to be vetted by the Hearing Committee.
I accepted the Committee's recommendations on May 18th. Following
several iterations, a letter of apology acceptable to the Hearing
Committee was produced by Dr. Westhues on May 31st, and a copy of that
letter is attached.
Unfortunately, Dr. Westhues has chosen to distribute his apology
as an attachment to a two- page letter dated June 2nd and addressed to
"Dear Colleagues and Friends". This letter all but dismisses the
findings of the Hearing Committee with the statement: "...the fact
remains that except for speaking harshly to a colleague, I have done
nothing contrary to university policy or standard academic norms...".
It continues the extension of misinformation to the broader
academic/professional community.
The material distributed by Dr. Westhues to recipients of the Gail
Grant letter is far removed from what the Ethics Hearing Committee
approved. I consider it to be a violation of the undertaking given by
Dr. Westhues to me. It is not an acceptable response to the Report of
the Ethics Hearing Committee.
The actions of Dr. Westhues point to a serious difficulty that can
arise when formal complaints and grievances are dealt with on a
confidential basis. Unless all parties to a dispute respect
confidentiality and refrain from public statements, those who do
respect it are placed at a considerable disadvantage. The damage caused
by one-sided public statements may outweigh any remedies provided
through the formal hearing process.
In view of Dr. Westhues' actions, and following consultation with
the Chair of the Ethics Committee and Dr. Nelson, I am making public
the full Report of the Ethics Hearing Committee on this matter.
Jim Kalbfleisch
Vice-President, Academic & Provost