Volume 93, Issue 72

Tuesday, February 8, 2000


U of T prof alleges racism

Research celebration attended by ministers

Grads in high demand

Budget awaits word from government on funds

Voting tops final forum

Pyramid schemes top campus crime



U of T prof alleges racism

By John Intini
Gazette Staff

A former faculty member at the University of Toronto has accused the school of racist hiring practices and is using a report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission to back his claims.

Kin-Yip Chun, who worked in the physics department at U of T between 1985 and 1994, released the commission's report yesterday on his own behalf.

Chun said he made four attempts for a tenured position at U of T between 1987 and 1992 and each time, the selection committee chose a white male who Chun claimed had fewer credentials.

"There were many racial incidents over the 10 years but they seemed to be very concentrated around the time I was going for a tenured position," he said, citing one described in the report in which he was blamed for spreading a computer virus.

After totalling all evidence, the commission concluded race, colour, ancestry and ethnic origin were all factors in Chun's failed quest for a tenured post. Due to this, the commission recommended the case be referred to an independent board of inquiry for further assessment.

About five per cent of cases brought to the Human Rights Commission are referred to an independent board, said Pearl Eliadis, director of policy and education with the commission.

Pekka Sinervo, U of T's chair of physics, said in 1994 the university performed an independent investigation into Chun's claims, but found no discrimination in the school's hiring process.

Chun said he was treated unfairly since he joined U of T's staff in 1985 as a research assistant. "From day one, I had to work as a professor and furthermore was told I had to support myself," he said.

Chun said his duties were further increased when he was made a full member of the graduate faculty.

Sinervo conceded there was a degree of unfairness in terms of the extra duties Chun was asked to perform, but said efforts have been made since 1993 to provide a fair monetary settlement.

Chun said in conjunction with the report's release he is currently suing the university for over $1 million for wrongful dismissal and lost salary.

Over his 10 years at U of T, Chun said he received an average of $850 per year in salary, forcing him to survive on money from his research grants which totaled $1.4 million.

Sinervo said all research assistants are paid through research grants.

Chun said he was further humiliated in 1994 when his lab was shut down and he was escorted off campus by the police in front of staff and students.

"We tried to be as sympathetic as possible," Sinervo said about to the incident, adding Chun was given two years notice of his dismissal after the university decided to end what it deemed an inappropriate relationship between the two parties. "Dr. Chun was hired for a short term position and his contract was up. He chose to ignore that."

Despite all he has been through, Chun said he would gladly accept a professorship at U of T. "The issue is not about money – it's the principle," he said. "I won't lower my eyes. I'll raise my head high. I have nothing to be ashamed of."

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