Film Department issues apology to CSU

“Who is in charge here?” These were the first words of Professor Dave Gordon of the Film department to CSU staff member Giselle Aiabens, only fifteen minutes into the inaugural CSU-organized Harvest Moon Festival.

This comment touched off an exchange that resulted in the penning of a letter of reprimand by Bahiyyih Campbell, a member of the CSU Executive Board. The letter was written at the end of October, and sent to Dianne Neufeld, coordinator of the Motion Picture Production Program.

According to the letter, Mr. Gordon allegedly continued on to state that he was, “teaching a fucking class,” and couldn’t “hear a goddamned thing.” He then strode to the main stage, where he accosted MC and CSU staff member Noah Fine in a similar manner.

It was also noted that Noah was afraid that the enraged staffer might attempt to disable the sound system with his bare hands, “given his body language and proximity.”

As detailed in the letter, Mr. Gordon “hollered that his students could not hear him and were therefore not getting what they paid for.” His mannerisms have been characterized in print as “clearly abusive” and “unnecessary.”

After several more heated moments, Mr. Fine managed to soothe the cantankerous educator, and walked him back to his classroom while issuing a plethora of assurances. The musical accompaniment to the revelry was extinguished until the class was dismissed at 4:30 pm.

Ms. Aiabens stated that she “did not feel threatened” personally, but corroborated the reports that Noah felt that property damage might have been imminent.

In an interview, Aiabens characterized the altercation as “definitely not appropriate,” although she did continue to muse that, “we all have our moments.” She further elaborated that the professor had made no effort to identify himself as an associate of the University before accosting her, and that he seemed to be “blowing off steam.”

Sarah Silvester, Services Coordinator, confirmed that extra security was booked for the event, but they did not intervene in the aforementioned events.

The organizers of the event, which was part of the University’s Welcome Back Week, had booked the Maple Field from 4 to 8 pm on September 11 through Ian Roberts, the Director of buildings and grounds. The Students Union Board of Directors stated in their letter that they “feel that [they] undertook due recourse in planning this event,” and requested that the situation be addressed.

When contacted via telephone by the Courier, Professor Gordon chalked the events preceding his outburst up to a “[probable] scheduling conflict of some sort.” He stated that “people in the front row [of his class] couldn’t hear [him], and [he] couldn’t hear them either,” due to the noise levels produced by the festival.

Mr. Gordon admitted that, “if [he] had the chance to go back and do it over again, [he] would probably have refrained” from using coarse language. However, he posited that “the singular expletive, ‘damn,’” was his only utterance of this nature.

Students of Mr. Gordon also painted a contrasting portrait of their instructor, with several acknowledging his sense of humor and pleasant demeanour. Matthew Enright characterized him as a “big cuddly grizzly bear, [that] you just have to pet … right.”

Ms. Neufeld issued a response to the letter on Wednesday, November 4. In this, she attributed Mr. Gordon’s behaviour to unspecified “extenuating personal circumstances,” saying that “the situation [had] been addressed internally in the department.” She apologized for his conduct, and thanked the Students’ Union for “letting cooler heads prevail.”

When interviewed in person, she stated that the methodology used for internally addressing the matter included “peer counseling within the department,” and elaborated that, “it involves speaking English.”

By the time of next year’s Welcome Back Week, the Maple Field will be the site of construction of a new Film Studies building, and thus the Welcome Back Committee will have to book a different venue, according to Ms. Silvester. She has stated that the relocation is not related to this year’s disruption.

//Max MacKay

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