Volume 93, Issue 62

Thursday, Janurary 20, 2000


Voters to log on for election

Ottawa prof gets an "F" on exam question

UWOFA continues negotiating

Job fair reflects Ontario's need for teachers

PeopleSoft donation upgrades education

Province cracks down on welfare


Caught on campus


Ottawa prof gets an "F" on exam question

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

A University of Ottawa microbiology professor has been put under the microscope for including what is being called a controversial question in his December examination.

Robert Charlebois asked students to use their knowledge of mircobiology and transmission of infections to find a bacterium to eliminate Québecois separatists, but not federalists, said Hélne Carty, director of marketing and communications for U of O. Charlebois teaches a course in bio-terrorism, she explained.

U of O's dean of science, Christian Detellier, was later approached by students who said they found the question to be offensive, Carty said.

As a result, Charlebois apologized for including the question by writing a letter of apology to each student in the third-year class, Carty said. "I think professor Charlebois was right in saying there was error in judgement."

Detellier said the incident is currently being investigated by the dean's office and Charlebois is required to take a leave of absence until the review is complete.

Because of the ongoing investigation, Detellier said he could not comment on the details of the controversy as dictated by the faculty's collective bargaining agreement which governs investigations of faculty members.

U of O also issued an official apology, Carty said, stating the inclusion of the question was deplorable and inappropriate. However, she added this is the first such incident involving Charlebois. "Professor Charlebois' student relations have been really good in the past."

Charlebois could not be reached for comment.

"[Charlebois and the dean's office] are both engaged in the investigation and it would be unwise for either of them to comment in a public place," Carty said. "It has to be a fair statement from everyone involved, including the professor and the students, to ensure nothing is dealt with unfairly."

The situation is in its second stage of review by the dean and is expected to conclude at the end of the month, Carty said. "The dean reviews the case and decides whether or not it will be forwarded to the vice-director of academics or handled internally," she said.

Patrick Pichette, president of the Students' Federation at the University of Ottawa, said a few students have approached him with concerns, however none are extremely upset over the incident. "I don't think the professor had intentions of causing trouble or a political debate," he said.

Still, Pichette said he disagreed with the inclusion of the controversial question in the examination. "He should have thought about it before he wrote the question. There are a lot of francophones in that class," he said.

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