On November 30, Principal Boyle of St. Michael's sent the following three questions to support as well as to academic staff, but not to my former students:
1. Has Professor O'Driscoll or has he not, during the last five years and in his actions which affect College life, conducted himself in a professional manner consistent with his responsibilities as a faculty member and colleague as set out in Article 5?
2. Has Professor O'Driscoll or has he not during the last five years contributed to ensuring that the environment at the College is conducive to learning?
3. Has Professor O'Driscoll or has he not, during the last five years and in his actions which affect College life, contributed to ensuring an environment at the College free of discrimination that would create a hostile and intimidating atmosphere?
Barely had this questionnaire been issued when the President of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship - Professor John Furedy of the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto - spotted the danger to academic liberty in Principal Boyle's questionnaire:
I am writing as President of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS) to express my concern about a potential infringement of academic freedom in recent developments in the O'Driscoll enquiry. The enquiry seems now to have been extended to his activities in St. Michael's College, in terms stated by Principal Boyle's November 30, 1993 letter, a copy of which Professor O'Driscoll recently faxed to me. I have not had time to consult the full SAFS board on this
matter, but I have shared the information to his activities in St. Michael's College, in terms stated by Principal Bovle's November 30, 1993 letter, a copy of which Professor O’Driscoll recently faxed to me. I have not had time to consult the full SAFS board on this matter, but I have shared the information with SAFS's Past President, Professor Doreen Kimura of the University of Western Ontario.
Professor Kimura and I are both particularly concerned about two major aspects of the expanded enquiry. In the first place, whereas the complaint about prof. O'Driscoll's classroom behaviour which set off the enquiry was specific, the 'series of complaints about Professor O'Driscoll's activities at the College over the last five years' is unspecific both as to the nature of the alleged acts and the sources of the complaints. In the second place, the three questions to St. Michael's faculty and staff in Principal Boyle's November 30 letter are phrased so broadly and even ambiguously (see, especially #3) as to raise the question of whether their very formulation might infringe academic freedom. It is at least arguable that almost no professor would be found guiltless in such a generalized and vaguely specialized search for minor misdemeanours (Professor Furedy to Provost Sedra, 9 December 1993).
Yet this is precisely what happened, and the Summary delineates minor misdemeanours over the last nine years. For the most part, the accusers are unidentified maintenance and part-time staff with whom one has had only the most cursory or casual of contact: they therefore only have a minute or two to form their impression, as I meet them in the corridor, as they fix a telephone wire, etc. Names are not given to the accuser, nor are the dates specified on which the incident occurred. It is noteworthy that there are no complaints from students, the only ones in a position to assess my professional conduct.