Opinion Column

Purge of UBC president even clearer now

Bill Tieleman

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Ex-UBC president Arvind Gupta.
UBC PHOTO

Ex-UBC president Arvind Gupta. UBC PHOTO

“You must refrain from thinking controversial thoughts out loud.” — Ex-UBC board chair John Montalbano

How outrageous — a scientist turned university president voicing controversial ideas.

If that scientist were Galileo Galilei in 1615 saying out loud that — contrary to popular and Catholic Church belief — the Earth revolves around the sun, he would face the Roman Inquisition to defend his views. And be proven right in the end.

But 400 years later in 2015, that man was Arvind Gupta, president of the University of B.C.

And his inquisition came from UBC’s Board of Governors’ executive committee — most appointed by the BC Liberal government — who apparently forced him to suddenly resign just a year into his five-year term.

New documents released last week indicate what really happened, and like an inquisition, Gupta’s accusers were powerful and relentless.

Gupta is now speaking out due to those documents going public, saying he regrets his resignation.

But unlike Gupta, neither Premier Christy Clark nor the man directly responsible for UBC — Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson — have yet to explain how a coup at B.C.’s largest university was executed by their own hand-picked appointees and major party donors.

Or if Clark or Wilkinson approved the board gunning Gupta — and why.

When the head of a $2.1-billion public institution with 60,000 students dramatically disappears, they have a fundamental obligation to explain why their governors pushed out the president — and whether they authorized it.

And there is no way unseating a UBC president could come without their knowledge and at least acquiescence — it’s too big a decision.

Fortunately, when the legislature resumes Feb. 9, opposition members can question Clark and Wilkinson directly — though whether real answers will be given is doubtful.

But Gupta was clear with Postmedia last week about what he thinks of the UBC governors who forced him out: “This group had only one intention. They decided they didn’t want me.”

And as Gupta now haunts UBC like the murdered king’s ghost in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Clark and Wilkinson must know that there will be no resolution to this power play until the truth is told and all those guilty are punished.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com or Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman 

Poll

Do you believe that Christy Clark and Andrew Wilkinson had nothing to do with Arvind Gupta’s sudden departure?