Every year, the Student Appeal Centre (SAC – Student Federation of the University of Ottawa) awards the Iron Fist to the University of Ottawa administrator having caught Student Appeal Officers’ attention for being most ruthless and/or unjust while showing little or no respect for students. This year, the Student Appeal Centre feels it has a duty to award the Iron Fist to Thierry Giornado for his egregious actions and threats made against former graduate student Philippe Marchand exactly five years ago today.
On April 27, 2007, then master’s student Phillippe Marchand met with Vice-Dean Governance and Secretary for the Faculty of Science Thierry Giornado. It was Giordano himself who had proposed the meeting following a public letter written by Marchand in which he questioned the Faculty’s refusal to add a motion to the agenda of its Faculty Council.
From the beginning of the meeting, Giordano treated Marchand in an aggressive manner, refused Marchand his right to be accompanied by another person to the meeting, and bombarded Marchand with a series of questions all the while interrupting him incessantly.
To make matters worse, Giordano then began verbally threatening Marchand with reprisals if he were to ever reveal the nature of their conversation to a third party. Giordano went on to say, “I am telling you right now, if at any time there is anything written about this conversation, or if I learn that you have used the content of this discussion to tell people ‘this is why they refused [to add the motion to the agenda of Faculty Council]’, if I hear that, I will attack you, is that clear?” (translated from French).
He also said: “Let it be very clear, first, I will not recognize, if you report anything, I will not recognize, but what’s more, I will ... I will attack you by saying it’s not true.”
This high-level intimidation by a member of the administration is not only horrifying and highly reprehensible, it is also prohibited under the Policy on Treatment of Graduate Students on non-academic and non-employment issues. Marchand immediately filed a complaint under this U of O policy but years later, the conflict remains to be investigated and is certainly not resolved. André E. Lalonde and Gary Slater, at the time the Deans of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Graduate Studies, both contributed to delaying the process needlessly which only further aggravated the damage caused to the student.
It is of additional grave concern that the deans and the university administration continued to refuse to investigate the student’s formal complaint even after learning that a sound recording of Giordano’s attack exists.
For having treated a student with the utmost disrespect, for his refusal to apologize when directly asked to do so by the SAC in December 2008, and for blatantly threatening to attack a student, Thierry Giornado amply deserves the Iron Fist Award. The Student Appeal Centre re-iterates its request to Professor Giordano that he formally apologize to Philippe Marchand forthwith and demands that the overdue investigation in view of possible discipline be undertaken immediately.