Directed or free inquiry?

September 26, 1997

I FOUND David Cameron's comments about the disputed Technical University of British Columbia perplexing (THES, September 5).

His suggestion that the dispute is about basic versus applied research is a red herring. The issue is directed versus free inquiry.

If I may quote from the enabling legislation: "(2) The board must approve strategic program and research directions and policies, including instructional program and research priorities, program objectives and desirable learning outcomes, for the university in accordance with the mandate of the university."

If the board MUST set the research priorities, policies, and directions, then where does the "researcher" fit in?

The enabling legislation and subsequent speeches by the minister make it clear that the "teaching staff" are to be temporary and job specific.

Further, that their research interests and initiatives are to be subsumed by a government-appointed, non-expert board of governors and their institutional research strategies.

This strikes to the very heart of academia and what universities are all about. It cannot be left unchallenged.

Todd Whitcombe Vice-president, UNBC Faculty Association

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