Mount Allison professor suspended over ‘discriminatory conduct’ allegations
SACKVILLE, NB – A professor at New Brunswick’s Mount Allison University has been suspended following an investigation into alleged “discriminatory conduct”, school officials say.
Rima Azar, associate professor of health psychology, will not be teaching next fall after the university hired an investigator to look into student complaints about her conduct, a spokesperson for Mount Allison said on Friday, Robert Hiscock.
“The complaints came from student interactions as well as blog posts,” he said. The complaints alleged discriminatory conduct, Hiscock said, adding that he was unable to provide details due to confidentiality concerns.
In emails to staff and students in late February, university officials said they had launched an internal review following complaints about a faculty member’s personal blog. The emails have been viewed by The Canadian Press and verified for authenticity by Mount Allison Students Union President Charlie Burke.
“Serious concerns have been expressed about publications related to systemic racism, sexual violence, gender and colonization,” said an email dated February 22 from Ann Comfort, acting vice president of international affairs and Mount Allison students.
In an email to staff and students dated May 4, Hiscock said that a subsequent independent investigation “has yielded important findings requiring action.”
“The university supports the researcher’s recommendation for equity, diversity and inclusion training and has offered to pay for the costs of this training,” he wrote.
An article on Azar’s blog, titled “Bambi’s Afkar,” criticizes Hamilton, Ont. For an “apartheid-like” COVID-19 vaccination policy of putting people of color first. Another claims that Black Lives Matter is a radical organization. Other articles question the notion and existence of systemic racism.
“Afkar de Bambi is a blog that is a space where I can indulge in writing and sharing personal thoughts on topics, as a non-expert citizen,” Azar wrote on the blog’s front page.
Burke said the student union was happy the school listened to the complaints. “We believe students should feel safe in their learning environment,” Burke said in an email Friday. “We currently only know what the university has publicly disclosed about the investigation, and we continue to work to make students feel heard and protected.”
In an email Friday, Hiscock said he couldn’t say if Azar had been fired, just that she wouldn’t be teaching next fall.
Azar did not respond to a request for comment, but a GoFundMe campaign claiming to have been created by her says she was suspended without pay due to “false allegations.”
“I have been the target of the cancellation culture simply because I enjoy writing on my blog Afkar de Bambi,” the page said. “I specifically chose to move to Canada for democracy / free speech. Why are we doing this to ourselves?”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 7, 2021.