Friday, April 18, 2008

"That School Where You Can't Be Gay" #2

Well, the presence of King's in the news over the Delwin Vriend case has indeed (as I suspected it would) continued. Last Sunday, Vriend himself weighed in in the Edmonton Journal, stating that (1) King's is a publically funded institution (a fact that, according to him, is "hushed up") but without "public accountability"; (2) King's did not have, neither at the time he was hired nor thereafter, a code of conduct; (3) Vriend's "boss" was aware that he was gay at the time of his hiring; and (4) that the court case was against the Alberta government, not the College. The latter point, along with the first, strongly implies that continued funding of private "religious" colleges by the Alberta government demonstrates that government's continued lack of recognition of the rights of GLBTs, despite the legal victory celebrated ten years ago. The Journal published today a response by Harry Fernhout, President of King's, which I think gives a good response to the only points he could have responded to (#1 and #4). I'm reprinting it here for those benefit of those with no access to the paper.

Delwin Vriend (“Albertans shouldn’t have to go to court for protection,” Letters, April 13) made a number of statements concerning The King's University College that require clarification.

Mr Vriend correctly points out that “no court case was ever fought against the college.” The King's University College has never contested court rulings at any level in Vriend v. the Queen. We agree that every citizen’s fundamental human rights must be protected, and we recognize the significance of the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case.

Mr Vriend’s claim that The King's University College receives public funding “without public accountability” is incorrect, however. King’s meets public accountability requirements very similar to those expected of fully funded public institutions. Our degree programs are subject to the same accreditation process through the Campus Alberta Quality Council. We meet the same financial reporting requirements, and must provide business plans and annual reports to the government just like the fully funded institutions. We have an open admission policy. The only substantive differences in accountability are that the Minister of Advanced Education and Technology does not appoint our governing board, and the Province does not own our campus. The Province provides partial instructional funding, in recognition of the public service we provide by educating Alberta citizens through accredited degree programs. The Province provides no capital funding for campus construction or maintenance.

There is nothing “hushed-up” about King’s funding and accountability; it is a matter of public record. We are strongly committed to contributing to the public good in higher education. One of our professors recently co-authored a science textbook for use in Alberta’s public high schools. Another recently received Canada’s highest teaching award because of his leadership in the scientific community. A third will soon be recognized for contributions to the music community in Edmonton. Since King’s inception in 1979, some 1700 students have graduated with approved degrees in the arts, sciences, commerce, music and education.They have entered the workforce or graduate programs in and beyond.

King’s has a long history of advocating on behalf of the disadvantaged and marginalized members of society locally and globally. Our research work is energized by concern for justice and sustainability, particularly with regard to poverty and the environment. King’s is strongly committed to making a constructive contribution to society as a partner in post-secondary education in Alberta.

Harry Fernhout, President
The King's University College


Crimson Rambler said...

thanks for reprinting this, Steve, I thought it was a good temperate reply when I read it this morning in the EJ

Gordon said...

Interesting wording at the beginning of the letter. Is it applauding the ruling in Vriend V Alberta, or 'acknowledging' it?

I'm not so sure the Vriend decision was rightly decided, even if I agree with its consequence.

Very wise letter, i'd say. Did anyone respond to it in the Journal?