Statement by Rick Mehta Regarding His Dismissal from Acadia University
On August 31, 2018, President Peter Ricketts fired me from my position of Associate Professor of Psychology at Acadia University. In the letter that he gave me at my dismissal hearing, he stated that he was firing me on the basis of issues that “were wide ranging and include failure to fufill [my] academic responsibilities, unprofessional conduct, breach of privacy, and harassment and intimidation of students and other members of the University community.”
President Ricketts’ letter of dismissal states only broad categories of misconduct instead of providing any specific examples of misconduct on my part. The university hid behind vague accusations and opaque investigations, while refusing to spell out their concerns – which were based on filtered complaints. I believe that their stealth charges were pretexts to get rid of me at any cost. The real reason for my dismissal has to do with a culture war that is taking place in universities all over Canada and much of the Western world.
I have just sent the following letter in support of Dr. Mehta:
Dear Dr. Hemming,
My family and I have been some-time residents of Nova Scotia since 2003, and have always been moved by the friendliness of your people and, in general, their practical common sense and peaceful ways. Therefore I am stunned to read about what is being done to Professor Rick Mehta, at your university.
I have skin in this game, as they say. I have been a professor of literature for more than thirty years, introducing students to a range of works spanning four thousand years and more than a dozen cultures, written in a broad variety of languages, ten of which I read. So I can see where Dr. Mehta is coming from.
He and his family have been, in their lives and in profoundly personal ways, the victims of ugly prejudices, some of them arising from a clash of cultures, the British and the Indian, and then the Canadian and the Indian. And yet he has the grace, and it seems the courage, not merely to condemn the British, and then your own people the Canadian, for pure evil. He has tried to understand both peoples and to evaluate them with equity, and because of that — because, apparently, he does NOT HATE his erstwhile overlords with sufficient passion — you are now doing to him exactly what you accuse the overlords of having done.
In other words, YOU are playing the part of a colonial master, coming down hard against a mild-mannered and gentle man, for daring not to be your intellectual puppet.
That is disgraceful in its own right. At a university, supposedly a place where young people are to be taught to pursue the truth, it is inexcusable.
Anthony Michael Esolen Fellow, Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts
Panel Discussion on Free Speech at Universities (Acadia University; May 3, 2017)
~ AS MY FATHER used to say, ancient civilizations were invaded from outside by barbarians: modern societies are more efficient– we make our own barbarians, inside the gates.
This is an actionable moment for any concerned Canadian, Nova Scotia, Acadia Grad, academic, or just concerned person. It’s also a time to press the media to tell an accurate story, unlike the Canadian Press hack-job reprinted in the recent Chronically Horrid, which mostly quotes an associate professor from New Brunswick as the “expert”.
The Point, Gotten To
To me, this looks like a full-on witch-hunt to get rid of Acadia’s own Jordan Peterson, Professor Rick Mehta. If you can’t answer someone’s wisdom, then threaten their livelihood, reputation, and academic standing. Typical radical politics of personal destruction. Even if he is exonerated, the process IS the punishment.
By GOLLY I Object!
As an Acadia Grad (’86-’87), this mess proves that my Alma Mater has gone full-on flaming loony snowflake/ SJW echo chamber. I guess I was lucky it wasn’t lost to the pink & blue haired barbarians while I was still there.
I wonder: how many Canadian professors have recently been threatened with firing and public disgrace for being too socialist, too Marxist, too Leftist/ progressivist, too ‘Critical Meta-Narrative’, too feminist, too anti-free speech? Yeah, I thought so.
This attack is sad, humbling, and a call to protest. Now.
What to Do… Some Suggestions
Raise a stink. The barbarians are inside the gates– and they are dressed up as intolerant professors and students, trying to punish and silence someone challenging the no-debate Leftward mono-culture status quo.
If you are on FaceBook, how about dropping a word of support, prayer, and encouragement to Professor Mehta? Every little bit helps.
And youth? Parents? How about considering very very carefully where you want to invest that precious $30K+ in tuition & expenses.. at Politically Correct U, or a real college teaching the whole of the Western Tradition, like King’s College in Halifax, amongst others in Canada & the U.S.?
Why not let Acadia officialdom know what you think (politely, calmly, and not 15 pages)? Carbon copy your MLA, or MP, and interested media. Letters to the editor.
Heather Hemming Office of the Vice-President, Academic 15 University Avenue Acadia University Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
The neo-barbarians are inside the gates, killing & pillaging: and we made them. We must expose, fight, and demand free speech and academic freedom under law.
Mehta: In His Own Words
I— Acadia Vs. Mehta
February 27th, 2018
“This post is for the general public and for the students who don’t know me. Many of these individuals may not even know where their next meal is coming from and may even see me as a member of an elite class. These are valid reasons for them to be skeptical about why they should care about my situation. I hope that my post addresses these issues.
I want to start this post by acknowledging that Acadia University is a publicly funded institution that receives its income primarily from the general public and students’ tuition. I believe that this makes these groups of people my employer and, even though this is not written down in any official capacity, I believe that this means that I am morally and ethically bound to serve their interests in my capacity as a professor.
From my perspective, I believe that my duty is to ensure that my students become informed and engaged citizens who can think critically and can make informed decisions. This also means that I am duty-bound to do what I can to ensure that they will become citizens who are open to diverse perspectives even if they disagree with what they’re being told, and that that they will be able to generate good ideas – so good that they can win people to their side solely on the strength of their ideas.
In my time at Acadia, I worked on these goals quietly in the confines of my classrooms. This is because I am an introvert at heart and have never had the desire to be in the public spotlight. Based on the rapport that I have had with my current and past students, I like to think that the quiet, understated approach is what worked best for me. I felt like I was making a contribution to society and enjoyed the quiet satisfaction of not being in the public spotlight and of not having fame.
In 2015, I started to suspect that there were serious problems with the university system. In 2016, I became worried that the problems would affect Canadian universities. In May 2017, I organized a panel discussion on free speech to discuss this issue (I’ve posted it on YouTube). Based on the feedback I received, I believed the event was successful and I was optimistic that I could play a role in instituting change at Acadia.
I became alarmed by events that transpired in the summer of 2017, and decided to present a thorough and comprehensive talk on free speech (the talk is posted on YouTube). In that talk, I also presented some ideas on how to implement change that would balance the conflicting concerns that had been brought to my attention. My talk was well attended (and listened to online) by students and members of the Wolfville/Acadia community. But the only faculty members who attended my talk or have said anything (e.g., over campus emails) have been the ones who oppose me.
Between September and November, I sent out campus emails and used social media to fight my own union because I believed that they were abusing their power to get money that I as a faculty member didn’t deserve, because I disagreed with their strong-arm tactics, and because their proposals would undermine academic freedom and free speech.
Since December, I have openly challenged many viewpoints that have become dominant on campus (i.e., questioning the basis for “systemic racism”, “systemic sexism”, the university’s decolonization initiatives, etc.) both in the emails that I have sent to my campus and on social media. Rather than refute me, which would be easy for the best and brightest minds to do if they had arguments and data on their side, the people who oppose me are claiming that I am harassing and/or being discriminatory towards them, and are using university policies that are vague and ill-defined as their basis for asking that the university investigate me (I’d be happy to send people copies of the policies so that they can judge for themselves)
Furthermore, my department has taken away the courses that I have taught for years (I would be happy to send people copies of my resume if they are skeptical about whether or not I was competent at my job). The rationale that I was given that there were “concerns” about my teaching. I submitted my appeal and explained the reasons why I believed this decision was unfair, and proposed that I teach the large sections of Introductory Psychology that I have taught this year, and that I would cover a third course on overload. Because I already have a good salary, I gave my word that I would donate the extra income to a charity so that the extra money would benefit the people who needed it more than me.
After taking over three weeks to get back to me (which is the time frame given in the university’s collective agreement), the Dean overturned my appeal. Rather than summarize his rationale, I welcome people to contact me. I can then send you copies of my appeal and the Dean’s response so that you can decide for yourselves if I was treated fairly. I believe that the documents speak for themselves and don’t need any commentary from me.
I believe that the evidence in my post demonstrates that that there are serious problems at Acadia. My position is that the problems are so serious that I am willing to lose a job that rewards me with a six-figure salary and a gold-plated pension. This is because I believe that my ethical duty to serve the interests of the general public and the students at Acadia take precedence over my own narrow self interests. Given the role that education plays in the lives of the students and society, this is my rationale for why I believe that my situation should be cause for concern for all of us as citizens of the world.”
II — Rick Mehta: A New Canadian
Rick Mehta February 25 at 1:37am
“In this long post, I’ll give some information about my family history and so-called lived experience in Canada so people know where I’m coming from when it comes to issues related to racism, sexism, etc., and WHY I have been so outspoken of late – and also why I have adopted the positions that I have taken (e.g., standing by Cornwallis and Senator Beyak).
My grandfather was stoned to death outside of his own home during the separation of India for the “crime” of being a government employee. My grandmother blamed my mother for my grandfather’s murder and did what she could to make my mother’s life miserable. In turn, my mother directed her anger about how she was treated onto my older brother – until she realized that what she was doing was wrong. She then overcompensated by spoiling me when I was a child and that created its own problems.
For example, I spent a good part of my childhood looking down on people who were poor and blamed them for their situation without giving any consideration to the greater societal context (e.g., did the people I was insulting even have access to drinking water, education, etc.) I also had a difficult time finding work after graduating from university because I was too spoiled from having had everything given to me, and to had to learn the hard way life’s lessons about the importance of hard work and how to find a job.
Other incidents that have shaped me as a human being stem from my own direct experiences with racism in my childhood (this paragraph) and observing how my mother was treated when she was trying to succeed in the workplace as a woman with brown skin.
During the 1970s, there was a lot of tension between the English and French; because I was a first generation Canadian, I was accepted by neither group. That resulted in me not being allowed on certain streets, being beaten up routinely (in part because of my skin colour, although I imagine that being socially awkward and overweight played a role in being a target of bullies), my family receiving crank phone calls at all hours of the day and night, having total strangers scream at my family and me to “go back to your country”, and routinely coming home to have to clean eggs that were thrown at our home. After the 1980 referendum, my experience as a first generation Canadian has kept getting better. Until Justin Trudeau became prime minister and started dividing our country, I had little reason to even think about my ethnicity or skin colour; I was simply a proud Canadian.
With regard to the issue of sexism, It pained me to have to hear stories of what my mother had to endure due to racism and/or sexism. I’ll give two examples. She was unceremoniously fired over the phone when she called in to miss work because my brother and I were ill with the measles. She also had to watch as people who were junior to her in the workplace quickly rise through the ranks (one person ended up becoming her boss) – not because of qualifications or work ethic, but because they were connected to “the old boys club”.
I like to think that these and other experiences have shaped who I am as a person, how I treat other people in general, and – more importantly – why I’ve tried to structure my classes as a functional hierarchy and democracy. My hope has always been that students would take what I did implicitly and would adopt it into their lives after they’re no longer students in my classes (e.g., how they treat other people, what qualities they look for in politicians when it comes to elections, etc.).
In term of India’s history, it’s true that the British insisted that India and Pakistan become two separate countries, and that this resulted in much bloodshed; I know this because it affected my mother directly and affected me indirectly. However, I believe that a greater good was served as a result of this decision. India is now an economic powerhouse. I highly doubt this would have happened if the British hadn’t insisted on having India separate into two countries. I believe that the situation would have been a lot worse and would have made the conflicts in the Middle East look like world peace in comparison.
It might seem counterintuitive (and some might argue that my position is “racist”), but I believe that the British used their greater and advanced knowledge of civilization and democracy to do what was best for the people of India. I’m not saying that the British were perfect or angels, but if they were evil people hell-bent on genocide, I believe they would have found a way to have accomplished that goal many years ago.
For this reason, I see colonization very differently from the FN advocacy groups and openly challenge some of the narratives that are dominant at university campuses (e.g., the decolonization initiatives) – especially when they’re done under the premise that they can’t be scrutinized (e.g., any attempts to ask questions or offer different perspectives are countered with charges of “racism”, “cultural genocide”, being “pro-colonialsim”, etc.) and when the past is used for endless demands for financial compensation. This explains why I have been very skeptical of the so-called “Truth” and “Reconciliation” report on the residential schools and why I am standing with Cornwallis (I believe that the activists are trying to rewrite history).
I’ll bring my thoughts to a close by saying that respect is a two-way street. At what point are we going to start playing by the same rules when it comes to issues such as race, gender, etc.? We can continue to along with with divides us, which will help us continue to magnify the polarization we’re seeing in society today and the path to civil unrest; if I’m correct, we’re on a path to WWIII and this will consist of civil unrest in the liberal democracies. In the past, evil has persisted not because the citizens had adopted the views of fascism or communism (the term “social justice” is in vogue at the moment), but because the good people did nothing. Applying the lessons of the past to the present, this explains why the voices of reason must start to speak out.
If my reading of history is correct, the voices of reason outnumber the far left to the point of being able to minimize their impact. Once the far left is neutralized, there will be little reason for the far right to advocate for itself. From there, we will finally have a context in which we will finally be able to have the difficult conversations to address both the good and dark sides of our history, and to finally address modern social problems. The simplistic “settler/colonizer” = evil (or “genocidal”), “patriarchy”, “systemic racism”, “systemic sexism” approaches to our history and complex social problems is only worsening problems that can potentially be about as close as humanly possible to being solved or nipped in the bud.”