Report of the Canadian Association of University Teachers Ad Hoc Investigatory Committee Regarding the Termination of Dr. Colin Wightman by Acadia University (2008)
The University has no place in the personal sex life, cyberspace or private affairs of its professoriate. Its right to regulate the workplace does not extend to the home.
Dr. Wightman was hired in September 2006 by Acadia to fill a tenured position at the rank of Full Professor as well as the directorship of the University's School of Computing.
In April 2007, he engaged in a one-time sexual encounter with a woman who was not associated with Acadia.
In May 2007, he was appointed Acting Dean of Pure and Applied Sciences
In June 2007, he was detained by police responding to accusations of sexual assault made by the woman he had met in April. During his detention, the police seized his home computer, blackberry and memory keys. Upon his release from custody, the Acting Dean informed the University that he was being investigated by the police and requested (and was granted) a leave of absence as well as access to a mental health specialist.
In August 2007, the police informed Wightman that he had been exonerated. He informed the University and requested access to the University laptop and facilities. They were denied; Acadia had decided to conduct its own investigation into his conduct and had seized the laptop.
In September 2007, Wightman was summoned to the Office of the VP Academic where he was handed a letter of termination. Just cause, as related in the letter, included two breaches: inappropriate use of the University laptop and facilities and aberrant behaviour.
We have discovered from our analysis of your University laptop that you have been using our computer and facilities during working hours to engage in highly inappropriate communications of a sexual nature on chat rooms. Such conduct is a serious violation of the University's policy on computing services
The conduct giving rise to the Police's ongoing investigation is utterly incompatible with the purpose, principles and operating imperatives of Acadia University.
When he attempted to grieve this termination, the arbitrator ruled that directors are not covered by the Collective Agreement, and that Wightman had no recourse to union representation or to the grievance/arbitration process. It was at this point that CAUT formed its own investigatory committee. The University administration refused to cooperate with the CAUT investigators, who therefore had to rely exclusively on the letter of dismissal, Acadia policies, procedures and practices as well as testimony from two witnesses: Wightman and the former director of Computing Services.
Consider censure in the event that the University does not implement the four preceding recommendations.