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Faculty attempted to get free speech ex-professor banned from public space on campus

Rick Mehta believes the continued outrage against him suggests hostility to free speech and his free speech position on campus.

A pro-free speech professor who was dismissed in 2018 says he is still being harassed by his former colleagues.

Rick Mehta, a former psychology professor at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, recently noticed that his former colleagues released an open letter expressing outrage that he is allowed on campus.

“We in Psychology find these decisions deeply troubling. Dr. Mehta had a past history of harassment of colleagues and students,” the letter said.

The letter warns everyone that Mehta is allowed to be in public spaces on campus, and encourages students who feel uncomfortable by him to contact the Occupational Health and Safety Committee, or even call 911.

University President Peter Ricketts wrote a response to the open letter, made only available to those within the Acadia community, placating the professors.

“I want to acknowledge the concerns expressed by the signatories of the open letter and express my desire to provide support to those who feel harassed by Dr. Mehta,” Ricketts says.

“We were advised during the mediation process that it would not be possible to reach an agreement unless he was permitted to have access to certain public spaces on campus like any member of the public.”

Mehta, a free speech advocate, was dismissed last fall by Acadia after an investigation into controversial comments he made in class and online questioning left-wing talking points. He later settled with the university.

“I was astounded when I read the President’s letter because it seemed apparent that he didn’t realize that the letter read as an admission that his administration and my union had colluded to dismiss me for exercising my academic freedom,” Mehta told True North.

Ricketts alleges that Mehta has continued to harass members of the Acadia University, though only one instance was relevant to the conditions of the settlement. 

That one instance of harassment being a time Mehta asked members of the Acadia community to attend a public lecture he was putting on in the community.

Mehta says that he has been harassed multiple times since leaving the university, including once incident in October where he claims he was berated by a professor while in a local grocery store.

Mehta says he once sent a presentation he prepared for a conference and asked his colleagues to give feedback. This was considered “harassment” by his former colleagues who wrote the letter.

“My former colleagues and other former students were more than welcome to refute any criticisms I had made about their work,” he said.

Mehta believes the continued outrage against him suggests hostility to free speech and his free speech position on campus.

“I believe that both documents demonstrate that free speech is not tolerated at Acadia,” he said.

“Even worse, I think they demonstrate that Acadia is not content with merely dismissing me for exercising my constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of conscience, but is continuing to sully my reputation in the campus community even though I am no longer employed at the university.”

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