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The Academy in Peril?

Michael Pyshnov alleges his PhD supervisor stole his work

Michael Pyshnov

Michael Pyshnov makes a strong case that his PhD supervisor stole his work and presented it as her own.

This happened during the 80s and Mr. Pyshnov has found some support among the academic community for his allegation that the University of Toronto as an institution has covered up this fraud. Our reading of the story would be that individuals within his department and their superiors took full advantage of Mr. Pyshnov to outsmart him by baiting him to behave bady and lose support.

After 15 years of sustaining this situation, and after his every attempt to make his story known met only complete (and continuing now) "silence of the press". His story has become cluttered with bigotted statements which inJusticebusters find repugnant. The woman who stole his work is Jewish; anti-Semitic and anti-woman generalizations abound. His hatred of communism leads him to tired Jewish conspiracy theories. Such casual bigotry is as out of place in the university as the bad science and plagiarism he alleges.

Nonetheless, Pyshnov's initial claim seems sound. In the beginning he ran his own case and had his claim against University of Toronto restored in the Court of Appeal of Ontario. This was no small feat since University of Toronto is used to winning. That Pyshnov, in his efforts to take a winnable case to the next step has been turned down by many law firms reflects both the laziness and the class bias of the legal profession where few lawyers are willing to take the time to properly read a file in a controversial case to objectively determine its substance and even fewer are willing to take on a powerful institution like the U of T.

Many people who are interested in higher education -- including the shrinking few who have any hope of ever affording one -- believe universities to be institutions where higher knowledge is attained and moral values are taught in an atmosphere of tolerance and with integrity. Increasingly the academy has become just another stepping stone in the market place where a person can pay his/her tuition and walk away with credentials to better exploit those with less education.

The people who practiced their witch-hunting techniques in the Foster Parent and Martensville cases were accredited by Saskatchewan Universities and almost without exception the people they branded as witches were less educated than they were.

You don't need a Doctor of Philosophy to recognize such practices are immoral and unethical.

Police academies are also facing up to the fact that the conduct of their graduates reflects on the integrity of the teaching. They should be ashamed that Brian Dueck is behaving like he received his training from the SS.
-- Sheila Steele

inJusticebusters find that injustices are most often the result of moral and ethical carelessness or indifference on the part of persons who are paid large salaries to be careful and to know their jobs (professsors, judges, heads of companies.) In a society driven by the profit motive, it is not surprising that people steal each others' work and ideas. The law is weighted in favour of legalising the theft of the ideas and work of the weaker by those with more power. Nonetheless the justice system provides avenues for such thefts to be prosecuted when clear evidence exists. Maintaining civility throughout the process is important if justice is to prevail. Comments like those made by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin this summer (Chief judge wants Supreme Court to have control over which cases it hears) give further reason to ask what universities are teaching! That the head of our Supreme Court wishes to lighten her work-load by limiting access to justice shows a frightening shallowness of mind.

The driving aims of are to bring to account those who abuse their power and to encourage the open, public discussion of the issues involved. Remedies should be sought and damages compensated. Character assassination has no legitimate place in any part of the process.

The rage which many spouses feel at having been unfairly treated in divorce and family courts is palpable as we watch the news reports of the results of violent rages by aggrieved parties. What we need to repair the damage done by a couple decades of carelessness are reputable institutions run by trained, intelligent and dedicated professionals. Our courts and our universities should be those institutions.
-- Sheila Steele