Camilla Gibb, Kathryn Kuitenbrower, and Miriam Toews are among 13 CanLit authors who have rescinded their support of an open letter condemning the University of British Columbia for its lack of transparency and “unfair” treatment of former creative writing program chair Steven Galloway – including the subsequent decision to terminate his employment – after unspecified “serious allegations” were made against him by students. Those allegations were later revealed to be of sexual assault and harassment‚ bullying and abuse of power‚ and general misconduct for a faculty member.
Joseph Boyden penned the letter‚ demanding the university launch a separate independent investigation into how the situation was handled; Margaret Atwood‚ David Cronenberg‚ Madeleine Thien‚ Michael Ondaatje‚ and Noah Richler are just a few of the 87 authors who have signed it to date. Thien‚ a UBC alumni‚ also requested that the institution remove her name from all its publications in light of their dealings with Galloway.
Gibb explained her motivations for removing her name from the letter in a Facebook post‚ stating that she could not support the pain the letter caused assault survivors‚ and that her participation “may have been inadvertently complicit in contributing to a culture of shaming and silencing.”
Others are standing by their choice to sign the letter, including Susan Swan, who said on Twitter, “Very sorry 4 hurt our UBC letter evoked but fair & due process 4 all was always the intent so my name stays on,” and Karen Connolly, who tweeted, “Few fr UBC signed bc they r afraid of losing their jobs. All summer long, I listened to intimidation/silencing of faculty.”