{Published by the University of Waterloo administration on its website from June 1994 until the summer of 1998; 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.)



2 June 1994

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

This letter is directed to all those men and women whom I
believe received a letter from Professor Gail Grant of 24 March,
enclosing my letter to her of 15 March, wherein I described recent
events in sociology here at Waterloo. So far as I know, about 60
recipients of Professor Grant's communication responded by sending
letters to UW President Jim Downey. More than 50 sent me copies of
their letters. To them, and to others who showed their concern by
telephone calls, flowers, flower seeds, cards, books, tapes and
newspaper clippings, I am deeply grateful. I do not know if
President Downey has read the letters sent to him, but I have read
the copies sent to me, and I can vouch for their salutary effect:
their reasoned and supportive words have kept my head above water
during the most difficult months of my quarter-century of
university teaching. I want to record here my thanks to Professor
Grant, without whose initiative I would not have known how much
decency and sanity are out there, and to my wife, Professor Anne
Westhues, who has struggled with me day after day to make sense of
each new stage of this ordeal, and thereby helped me keep my head
(relatively) straight.

Events took an unexpected turn shortly after my letter of 15
March. In accordance with UW Policy 63,1 was at that time trying to
arrange informal meetings with the eleven colleagues who had signed
the defamatory memos against me, in hopes of resolving my
grievances without recourse to a formal hearing before the
Grievance Panel. Eight of my colleagues did not answer my letter,
and no meetings took place, though some additional information came
to light. It appears that the collective memos followed a secret
meeting my colleagues planned and held in late December, in the
building adjacent to sociology's, from which a consensus emerged
for my disbarment from graduate teaching and general ostracization.

At the end of March, just when it was becoming clear that an
informal resolution of my grievances was impossible and that a
formal hearing would be required, the colleague I called Jane Jones
in my letter of 15 March made a formal complaint under UW Policy 33
on Ethical Behaviour, arguing that my submission under Policy 63
constituted an attack on her competence and character, and that the
Ethics Committee should throw out my grievances and order the
penalties imposed on me to stand. The Ethics Committee agreed to
consider the "ethical component" of my grievances. By the time the
hearing began on 15 April, the letter I had sent to Professor Grant
was in circulation. It was introduced as evidence of continuing
attack. I objected to the hearing on several grounds: that it would
obstruct and preempt the grievance proceeding, that my challenge to
an examining committee's decision, far from being unethical, was
part of the mutual questioning essential to academic life, and that
the hearing should not proceed without "a written statement of
precisely which actions on my part the committee intends to assess
as possible violations of the general and/or specific principles in
Policy 33." My objections were overruled. On 9 May, two weeks after
the three-day hearing concluded, the committee handed down a ruling
firmly in my colleague's favour, and our Vice-President Academic &
Provost, Professor Jim Kalbfleisch, accepted its recommendations.

Please find enclosed the statement of apology I have been
required to write, to send to each recipient of the 15 March
letter, and to provide for publication in the university newspaper
and on Internet. So far as I know, I am the first professor in this
university's history to be required to make a public apology. This
is not a precedent I am glad to participate in setting. On the
other hand, in its final form the statement does little more than
state facts, and repeat apologies that I had offered in letters of
13 December and 3 March, as well as in my submission to the
Grievance Panel, and that my colleague had rejected.

I found the committee's other recommendations more chilling,
reminiscent of the confessions and declarations commonly coerced by
organizations whose values contrast sharply with those of a
university: that I "be required to accept the findings of this
Committee," and that I "cease--publicly and privately--from making
any further attacks, directly or indirectly," upon the Complainant.
Fortunately, the Provost did not ask me to give assent to the
findings. He did ask for my "undertaking in writing" to "cease from
making any further attacks, private or public, direct or indirect,"
but he accepted the statement I offered in response, that I would
"conduct my relations with [the Complainant] in accordance with
university policy and standard norms of civility and collegiality."

The proceeding under Policy 33 is now complete, and our
faculty association's Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee,
chaired by Professor Roman Dubinski, has undertaken a review of it.
Now the proceeding under Policy 63, the hearing of my grievances,
is underway again, and I expect a formal hearing to commence in a
week or two. I am hoping that the matter of my personal offense to
a colleague is now laid to rest, so that attention can turn to the
other issues at stake in this conflict, not least the grounds and
procedures by which my right to teach has been curtailed. Despite
all the vituperation against me, the fact remains that except for
speaking harshly to a colleague, I have done nothing contrary to
university policy or standard academic norms, certainly nothing to
warrant the disbarment from graduate teaching officially imposed on

I need to ask if you wish me to turn your name over to our
Vice-President Academic & Provost. The Chair of the Ethics
Committee, Professor Gunz, informed me by letter of 27 May that
while Professor Kalbfleisch accepts my undertaking to send out the
letter of apology, "he still expects to receive from you a list of
recipients of the March 15, 1994, letter." Professor Kalbfleisch
confirmed this expectation in his letter to me of 1 June: "A
listing of these individuals is to be sent to me." I hesitate to
give him your name without your permission, but I will pass it on
to him promptly if you have no objection.

In conclusion, I repeat my profound gratitude to all those readers
of the earlier letters--from every province of Canada as well as
abroad, from 25 different universities and 20 different ethnic
backgrounds, and a quarter of them women--who took time to express
their solidarity not just with me but with the values on which the
university is built.

Sincerely yours,

K. Westhues