Student’s-Eye View received an anonymous privacy complaint about a YouTube video based on a U of O Senate meeting that took place in 2011.
The video was embedded in a September 2011 post “SFUO President Amalia Savva Granted Whispering Rights at Senate by Allan Rock” and showed student federation president Amalia Savva and U of O president Allan Rock interacting during a public meeting of university Senate.
Following Joseph Hickey’s submission that the video was on a matter of public interest, YouTube decided to dismiss the complaint.
The emails from YouTube advising of the complaint initiation and closure, and Mr. Hickey’s submission for dismissal of the complaint can be read below:
To: Joseph Hickey
Date: Sep. 14, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube support
Dear Joseph Hickey,
This is to notify you that we have received a privacy complaint from an individual regarding your content:
Video URLs: http://youtube.com/watch?v=EimyHwNgYu0
The information reported as violating privacy is at 0_00, 0_20-1_08
We would like to give you an opportunity to review the content in question and remove any personal information that may be used to uniquely identify or contact the complainant.
You have 48 hours to take action on the complaint. If you remove the alleged violation from the site within the 48 hours, the complaint filed will then be closed. If the potential privacy violation remains on the site after 48 hours, the complaint will be reviewed by the YouTube Team and may be removed pursuant to our Privacy Guidelines (http://www.youtube.com/t/privacy_guidelines). For content to be considered for removal, an individual must be uniquely identifiable by image, voice, full name, Social Security number, bank account number or contact information (e.g., home address, email address). Examples that would not violate our privacy guidelines include gamer tags, avatar names, and address information in which the individual is not named. We also take public interest, newsworthiness, and consent into account when determining if content should be removed for a privacy violation.
If the alleged violation is located within the video itself, you may have to remove the video completely. If someone’s full name or other personal information is listed within the title, description, or tags of your video, you can edit this by going to My Videos and clicking the Edit button on the reported video. Making a video private is not an appropriate method of editing, as the status can be changed from private to public at any time. Because they can be turned off at any time, annotations are also not considered an acceptable solution.
We’re committed to protecting our users and hope you understand the importance of respecting others’ privacy. When uploading videos in the future, please remember not to post someone else’s image or personal information without their consent. For more information, please review our Privacy Guidelines http://www.youtube.com/t/privacy_guidelines
From: Joseph Hickey
Date: Sep. 16, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube Support
Dear YouTube Representative:
Re: Privacy complaint about YouTube video
This email is in response to your email dated Sept. 14, 2015 (see below) regarding a privacy complaint connected to my video uploaded to YouTube at the following URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EimyHwNgYu0
The video at issue constitutes my political expression on a matter of public interest: the conduct of an elected student association president and the president of a major Canadian university.
I ask you to dismiss the individual’s complaint for the following reasons.
I am a YouTube user based in Ottawa, Canada. Since 2010, I have posted many videos concerning the University of Ottawa and its community to my YouTube account. I have posted these videos first as a graduate student and now as an alumnus of the university, and as a former elected representative to the University of Ottawa Senate.
The YouTube video at issue is a clip of length 1 minute, 25 seconds, containing footage taken by the University of Ottawa of a public meeting held on Sept. 12, 2011 of the university Senate and posted on the university’s website (currently at the following URL: http://www.uottawa.ca/gouvernance/comite-video.html?id=2&vid=481)
Ms. Amalia Savva is featured in the video. Ms. Savva was President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) on Sept. 12, 2011. The SFUO is a non-profit organization incorporated under the Corporations Act of Ontario that represents all of the approximately 36,000 undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa. The SFUO receives over $5 million in revenue yearly from student fees. The SFUO President is elected yearly by undergraduate students and receives a full-time salary.
The University of Ottawa is a publicly funded university regulated by Ontario law, with over 40,000 students. The University of Ottawa Senate is the highest committee regulating academic matters at the University of Ottawa. Pursuant to the University of Ottawa Act, 1965, the Senate has the power to:
- a) to control, regulate and determine the educational policy of the University according to Christian principles and its bilingual tradition and character;
b) to determine the courses of study and standards of admissions to the University and continued membership therein, and qualifications for degrees and diplomas;
c) to deal with all matters arising in connection with the awarding of fellowships, scholarships, bursaries, medals, prizes and other awards;
d) to confer the degrees of Bachelor, Master and Doctor, and all other degrees and diplomas in all branches of learning that may appropriately be conferred by a university;
e) to confer honorary degrees in any branch of higher learning with the concurrence of the Board;
f) to create committees to exercise its powers.
I was an elected representative to the University of Ottawa Senate for the academic years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. I was present at the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting.
The YouTube video at issue contains footage of the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting of the University of Ottawa Senate. Ms. Savva is seen speaking (whispering) to the chairman of the Senate, who is also the President of the University of Ottawa, Mr. Allan Rock. Ms. Savva’s intervention took place during discussion of an item on the Senate’s Agenda, during its meeting. At the end of the YouTube video, Mr. Rock is seen announcing the content of Ms. Savva’s whispered message out loud, to the Senate at large. The discussion lead to a vote passing a “Motion on Academic Amnesty” at that meeting.
As a member of the Senate who was present at the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting, I wrote a blog post critical of Ms. Savva and Mr. Rock’s interaction entitled “SFUO President Amalia Savva Granted Whispering Rights at Senate by Allan Rock”. This blog post was posted on the Student’s-Eye View blog, which I co-manage, and which is dedicated to coverage and criticism of the University of Ottawa and its Senate.
YouTube and Freedom of Expression
The video at issue and the accompanying blog post contain my critical expression about matters of public interest: 1) the conduct of the SFUO President and University of Ottawa President at the public meeting of the university Senate of Sept. 11, 2011; and 2) the deliberation surrounding the “Motion on Academic Amnesty” passed at that meeting.
I note that the video does not breach YouTube’s “community guidelines”. I also note that the video contains no information that would allow a viewer to contact Ms. Savva.
Removing my video would silence and censor my free expression about the publicly-funded University of Ottawa, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, and about the university President and the SFUO President, who are public figures.
Any such silencing and censorship by YouTube in the name of responding to privacy complaints imposes a chill on free expression on the Internet. Instead of participating in censorship in this way, YouTube must be a leader in promoting robust and freewheeling expression and debate about all topics including about public figures such as those portrayed in my YouTube clip.
For these reasons I ask you to dismiss the complaint submitted Sept. 14, 2015.
Joseph Hickey, B.Sc., M.Sc. (University of Ottawa)
 SFUO constitution: <http://sfuo.ca/wp-content/uploads/Constitution-May2012.pdf> at pg. 23.
 Universities Canadad, “Enrolment by university” (2014): <http://www.univcan.ca/canadian-universities/facts-and-stats/enrolment-by-university/>.
 SFUO constitution: <http://sfuo.ca/wp-content/uploads/Constitution-May2012.pdf>.
 University of Ottawa Act, 1965: <https://www.uottawa.ca/about/governance/1965-university-of-ottawa-act> at para. 17.
 Minutes of the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting of the University of Ottawa Senate: <http://www.uottawa.ca/gouvernance/comite-proces-verbal.html?id=2&mid=480>.
 Student’s-Eye View blog post dated Sept. 29, 2011: <https://studentseyeview.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/sfuo-president-amalia-savva-granted-whispering-rights-at-senate-by-allan-rock/>.
 Student’s-Eye View: About: <https://studentseyeview.wordpress.com/about/>.
 YouTube Community Guidelines: <http://www.youtube.com/yt/policyandsafety/en-GB/communityguidelines.html#communityguidelines-respect>.
To: Joseph Hickey
Date: Sep. 17, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube Support
For more information about our removal processes, please check out the following video: http://goo.gl/Dt5ZDw.
The YouTube Team
In September 2011, former member of the University of Ottawa Senate Joseph Hickey filed an access to information (ATI) request for all communications between university president Allan Rock and his former chief of staff Stephane Emard-Chabot.
As was previously reported on this blog, the university initially refused to process Mr. Hickey’s ATI request and closed the file and returned the filing fee.
Mr. Hickey appealed, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario (IPC) ordered the university to process the ATI request. The university then issued an “access decision”, providing access to some records and denying access to others.
Mr. Hickey appealed the access decision to the IPC, and received a decision dated June 25, 2015 ordering the university to disclose additional records. The additional records had been withheld on the basis of Section 18(1) of Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which is intended to protect the economic interests of institutions. The IPC adjudicator ordered all records withheld under section 18(1) released. The new records are posted in a PDF at the link here.
Some of the new records of note are:
- Records 244, 246, and 257 (beginning at pgs. 225, 228, and 237 in the PDF): $585,000 spent under “management authority” re: plans for new building
- Record 192 (pg. 162): A. Rock’s “secret fund” to pay for high-profile speaker
- Record 151 (pg. 133): Funding for A. Rock’s 2-year travel plan may be shifted from provincially-mandated 10% cut to “executive offices” (see also Record 176 at pg. 150)
- Records 286 and 287 (pg. 253): A. Rock to appear as intro for “respect in the workplace” video
- Record 87 (pg. 85): F. Houle concerned about A. Rock’s confidence in his abilities as VP Academic
- Record 5 (pg. 4): Dean of Law listed as nominator for honorary doctorate, but incapable of supporting nomination
Former member of the University of Ottawa Senate Joseph Hickey has made public his typed notes from the wrongful dismissal arbitration of Professor of Physics Denis Rancourt.
In the introduction to his document, Hickey states that:
“It is my hope that these notes, exhibits, and collected reports will be of use to researchers, students, and other members of the community concerned with the institutional behaviour of universities in Canada and elsewhere.”
The document contains a collection of background information and reports for Days 1-15 of the arbitration hearings, and Hickey’s typed transcript-notes and copies of media articles that appeared during Days 17-28 of hearings.
A .zip folder containing copies of the exhibits entered into evidence during the arbitration is available at the link here. The exhibits are referred to in Hickey’s notes as they were introduced by the lawyers during the hearings.
La Rotonde has posted a video (in french) of its recent interview with University of Ottawa President Allan Rock.
At 1:40 in the video, Allan Rock is asked why the university’s new Security and Policy Institute (SPI) program was not approved by the university Senate or Board of Governors.
An English translation of this segment of the video (beginning at 1:40 and ending at 3:34) is as follows (free translation):
LR: Our next question is about the Security and Policy Institute.
LR: So, since the Board of Governors and the Senate were not consulted, we would like to know who approved the program and why there were no consultations?
Rock: Yes. Generally, when we launch a new program, whether it’s in Science, or the Faculty of Arts, or somewhere, we have a consultation and then we also have an analysis and discussions at the level of the Senate and its committees. In this case, we are talking about a program that is non-academic, in the sense that it’s not credited, it’s a program which is offered to people who are implicated in the domain, so that they can perfect their skills, in the professional sense. So, given that it’s not an academic program, we don’t need approval from the Senate and we did not initiate a consultation like we would do with an academic program. The Continuing Education Centre exists in order to give people who are already in the job market a means of improving and perfecting their professional skills — we hire people mostly from outside the university as teachers — so it’s not an academic program as such. We use the framework of the university to offer professional programs, and we also hope to generate additional revenue for the university.
Video by La Rotonde:
La Rotonde has published a new interview with U of O President Allan Rock (see here).
Security and Policy Institute (SPI)
The university’s new “SPI” program was unveiled at a posh reception at the end of last summer, and has been criticized as a project of geopolitics and globalization, in part due to its funding that comes from Symantec, a major U.S. company with military ties in the U.S. and Israel.
La Rotonde asked President Rock why the SPI program was not presented for approval to the university’s Senate or Board of Governors. His reply is as follows (free translation):
“It’s a service offered by the Centre for Continuing Education. The Centre’s objective is to offer non-credited professional training. Programs are not approved by the Senate because the programs are not academic. It’s not an academic activity in the sense that it would have to have approval of the Senate because a degree is awarded. [The training] is aside from the central mission of the university and it’s a means of generating revenue to help us in our main mission, which is the academic programs. According to us, we don’t need approval from the Senate or Board.”
Rock further explained that the upper administration of the university approved the SPI program.
One would think that programs that are not academic do not belong in a university, but then again one might think the U of O is not much of a university.
For comparison with the President’s statement, S. 17 of the University of Ottawa Act, 1965, the Ontario statute that governs the U of O, establishes that the university Senate is “responsible for the educational policy of the University and… has power, (a) to control, regulate and determine the educational policy of the University…; [and] (b) to determine courses of study…”
Student Code of Conduct
The spectre of a student code of non-academic conduct has returned to U of O.
La Rotonde asked for Mr. Rock’s comments about the possible re-introduction of a student Code. His response (free translation) was as follows:
“It’s up to the Working Group to decide exactly what they will recommend. I think it was in 2007-2008 that the university proposed the code of conduct, and it was not well-received. There were inadequate consultations, and all that, but I would rather not prejudge the Working Group’s report. It’s up to them to decide what their judgment is concerning the appropriate steps at present. And I imagine it’s possible that they will recommend a code of conduct, but we will have to wait for the report.
I think the most appropriate thing for me to do is wait for the Working Group’s report and to not influence their analysis or pre-judge what they will recommend. It’s up to them [the members of the Working Group] to analyze the current situation and come up with their recommendations. And naturally, we will make their report public, and we will have a discussion — we will decide what to do, but it’s not up to me to judge. I will wait for their report.”
Former Student Senator and former University of Ottawa student Hazel Gashoka wrote to Allan Rock to determine whether or not the University of Ottawa plans on funding a lawsuit against her. This is his response:
From: Alastair Mullin
To: Hazel Gashoka
Date: April 9, 2013
Subject: RE: Your answer requested
We are in receipt of your e-mails of February 11 and March 5, 2013. Following our discussion this afternoon, I spoke with Mr. Rock to confirm that at this juncture the university has no plans to fund such a suit.
PhD student Nicholas Ali of the University of Ottawa reports he has been denied an oral defense of his thesis, despite having his thesis research published as 5 articles in peer-reviewed journals in his field:
University of Ottawa Doctoral Candidate Withdrawn from Program despite extraordinary academic achievements, evidence of bias, and administrative injustices
(OTTAWA, May 25, 2013) – Mr. Nicholas Ali, former PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa, was informed on May 10, 2013 that his appeal with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FGPS) Executive Committee was denied.
After over 5 years of research, tireless hard work, and publishing his doctoral thesis in several international peer-reviewed authoritative scientific journals, Mr. Ali’s appeal to defend his doctoral thesis orally was denied. Mr. Ali’s appeal clearly presented evidence of a thesis examiner admitted bias, conflict of interest between thesis examiner and student’s supervisor, and the Dean of FGPS review of the student’s thesis even though the Dean of FGPS has no knowledge in the student’s study domain. Evidence of lack of procedural fairness and transparency in the evaluation of the student’s thesis, as well as violation of university regulations are claimed against the University and its staff in Mr. Ali’s appeal.
(Read the rest of Mr. Ali’s press release HERE).