Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fundamental values

Here's why I'm cranky about the "Fundamental Values" underpinning UVic's 2011 draft Strategic Plan:
The following fundamental values will inform all of our actions and are a prerequisite to fulfilling the purpose of the university:
  • intellectual and ethical integrity
  • freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry
  • equal rights and dignity of all persons.
So ... the basic assumptions of a democratic society and of any university anywhere ever, some of which are entrenched in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? THOSE are the fundamental values of this university?

Handy PR tip: claiming as a "fundamental value" the nation's legal minimum standards may not be as impressive as you think.

I'll agree that the University of Victoria should definitely support all these things, definitely, but there's just no way that these set UVic apart from every other Canadian university, or really any Canadian institution of any kind with a strategic plan. Heck, some of this is awfully similar to language from the Ukrainian constitution, to let Google choose a country almost at random.

Or alternatively, if the administration really thinks that intellectual and ethical integrity, or freedom of inquiry, are sufficiently threatened around here that we need to declare our allegiance to same, then I don't know what kind of place I'm working in. They're ... I don't know, either empty or unfathomable. I can't tell which, and I'm not sure how to decide.

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