Social Justice and a Tenured Professor

Peter Wood:

The Canadian case of the moment involves a tenured associate professor of psychology at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. Professor Rick Mehta was suddenly fired from his position on August 31. The stated reason, provided to Professor Mehta in a letter from President Peter Ricketts, was: “failure to fulfill [his] academic responsibilities, unprofessional conduct, breach of privacy, and harassment and intimidation of students and other members of the University community.”

One might conclude from such language that Professor Mehta must be a walking nightmare who posed an enormous threat to the 3,500-some undergraduate students and 250-some faculty members. The truth, however, is that Professor Mehta found himself on what he calls the wrong side of a Canadian “culture war.” It’s a war that will sound pretty familiar to those who are watching the Littman, Hill, Brown, and Ronell cases in the U.S. Essentially, Mehta stood up for disinterested academic standards during a period in which Acadia University was rushing pell-mell to the “social justice” agenda.

The Herald News of Halifax covered the story in “Acadia Fires Rick Mehta After Fire Storm over Comments.” To fire a tenured professor over his “comments” suggests that he must have uttered some pretty remarkable syllables. Granted that Canada doesn’t have First Amendment protections. What did Mehta do? Did he denounce hockey as a sport inferior to American baseball? Did he declare personal opposition to Canada’s tariff protections of its dairy industry?