We have often discussed professors under fire for controversial or extremist statements on social media or blog posts. I often oppose discipline for such statements even when professors espouse hatred or support violence against those with opposing views. As we have previously discussed, one professor called for more Trump supporters to be killed. Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis, who writes for the site Lawyers, Guns, and Money, said he saw “nothing wrong” with the killing of a conservative protester — a view defended by other academics. While sites like Lawyers, Guns, and Money feature writers like law professor Paul Campos who call for the firing of those with opposing views (including myself), it is not their commitment to free speech but our own that must guide our actions.
This is different. This is actively seeking to harm students through doxxing. This type of conduct has come up before. CNN legal analyst and Stanford lecturer Asha Rangappa doxxed a student journalist for criticizing her. However, that did not appear to involve a student at Stanford.
Wolf responded to her termination in a heated blog post that stated that “UBC is a colonial institution. It exists on stolen land and the fact is: that’s illegal.” She then added that “My dismissal letter reads that I no longer have any teaching duties at UBC, for no reason. Well, there is a reason. The fact that it isn’t stated is the statement itself. The reason for my dismissal is that I will not assimilate to the institution’s norms.” However, she pledged to fight:
I figure, if I can’t fight this – a resourced, educated, mature woman -how is an Indigenous child who is a descendant of survivors every going to defend themselves from being treated like a second class citizen in our colonial public education system?
The Wolf is my totem animal. I follow the Wolf’s ways, which resonate with me. A pack animal, the Wolf who is the hunter eats last, making sure every animal has had their feed before partaking.
The problem is that Dr. Wolf was clearly wrong and abusive in her treatment of the students. She was not defending but attacking others. This was a mandatory course and students complained about her conduct and teaching. She wrote interim reports tagging each student as showing “unconscious and unacceptable biases, the reinforcement of white supremacy and/or Indigenous specific racism” as well as an “intolerance for ‘otherness.'” After the university deleted the reports, she doxxed the students.
Reddit also linked an alleged tweet from Dr. Wolf but (like others) it is no longer available. The Reddit posting stated that Wolf later added that “Anonymity is the home base of white supremacist actions. My former students are slandering me behind my back and to the media. This is what Indigenous specific misogyny looks like. They must be named and held accountable for their violence. Above all, they should not be teachers.” I have not been able to find that tweet.
The students are not alone in such attacks. Dr. Wolf has also attacked a faculty member at St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia who noted questions about Wolf’s Indigenous background. She is Polish and Native American descent, according to media reports. Dr. Darryl R. J. Leroux, Associate Professor in the Department of Social Justice at St. Mary’s University made reference to her background. In one tweet, he stated “It appears likely now that infamous UBC prof in Teacher Education is a white woman masquerading as ‘Indigenous.’ Through her alleged grift, she has inflicted harm on racialized students & unleashed torrent of white supremacist hate aimed at BIPOC.”
Recently, he tweeted “Lots of media have contacted me re: Dr. Wolf. I’m not doing interviews. Pls contact @nomoreredface whose research I retweeted. For clarity, Dr. Wolf’s g-grandma’s brother married a Cree-Métis woman. I write about *lateral* descent in Ch 3 of my book.”
For her part, Wolf attacked Leroux for what she described as his “genocidal view of how culture is transmitted” and wrote that she has been abused by critics “[s]ince his marvelous work to discredit an Indigenous female professor engaged in powerful post-secondary decolonization education work.” She ended that later posting with simply: “I have no words except two for people like you, and these are overdue: F**k you.”
Ok, now you see how bizarre this has all become.
I do not see how Dr. Wolf could take legal action in her termination, but she may be referring to an intention to fight back publicly rather than legally. The attack on the “dirty dozen” named students crosses the line for academics and proves ample basis for discipline. If these students took public positions denouncing Dr. Wolf, the situation might be different. In fairness, anonymous students making public attacks on academics can be unfair and deny a professor an opportunity to refute the basis or history behind such stories. However, first reprimanding these students for dropping her course and then posting their names was entirely unjustified and unacceptable.
The key is that this did not appear accidental but intentional. Sometimes academics and others send out ill-considered tweets or inadvertently reveal information that they would have ordinarily protected from disclosure. In such cases where there is an acknowledgement of the mistake, I believe a university should confine any action to a reprimand or similar action. This appears to be a premeditated and petty effort to punish these students from dropping her class.
Thus, I expect that this is not the last we will hear from Dr. Wolf but it is likely the last the UBC will hear from her as a faculty member.