Academic penalties for Elmasry

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Posted by on 16:51:29 2004/11/17

In Reply to: Elmasry's history of threats posted by Al Gordon

Until Diane Francis's revelations of Elmasry's behavior of a few years ago, I argued (in an October 28 letter to the National Post pasted below), that the university should only reprimand him in terms of the damage he had caused, in the donors' minds, to the reputation of the academic unit and university that employs him. Contrary to most on this list, I thought that beyond that sort of reprimand, any further punishment would be illegitimate in terms of academic freedom.

Now, however, if Frances's account is correct, I think Elmasry is guilty of intefering with the academic functioning of his university in terms of the following:

1. The content of what he wrote to a fellow academic is not appropriate for academic discussion.

2. Copying what he wrote to administrators who are in a position to evaluate that academic is unacceptable, threatening behavior.

3. Misrepresenting himself as part of Mid Easter Studies unit which, apparently, did not even exist at the time, amounts to gross misrepresentation, just as plagiarism on the part of students is unacceptable. To my mind this is the most serious academic transgression on his part.

I understand that a university committe is currently investigating Prof.
Elmasry's behavior from an academic perspective. I would urge anyone with direct connections with that university to write to that committee, to make sure that they take into academic account the charges in Diane Frances's column. This, in the long run, is a more effective way of proceeding than calling for his deportation. It is also quite independent of what one may believe on the Israel/Arab conflict, or any other controversial political issue.

My Oct 28 letter to the National Post (also posted on this web site during prior discussions), is posted below:

Letter in National Post, October 28, 2004

Re "University to review Elmasry remarks" (October 27), because Professor Elmasry's remarks were not made in a classroom, or to students he grades, his university would be wrong to dismiss or even to suspend him, That would be the sort of abuse of academic freedom that the University of New Brunswick perpetrated against Professor Yaqzan in 1993, when it suspended this mathematics professor for publishing, in a student paper, a conservative Muslim opinion on date rape that many on campus considered to be "offensive" or to create "a chilly atmosphere".

On the other hand, academic freedom does not mean that evil and/or stupid remarks do not have consequences for the individual uttering them, or for the organizations with which s/he is affiliated. I agree with the University of Waterloo's president's description of Professor Elmasry's statements to be "abhorrent". This professor of computer engineering has seriously damaged his own intellectual and ethical reputation, and that of the Muslim organization he heads. Moreover, he put at risk the good name of his academic unit and the university, with possible negative implications for donations. For that he should receive a severe reprimand from his university. with all the negative consequences that that sort of reprimand entails.

John J. Furedy, Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto

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