Dr. Jeremy Levitt took up the helm of the UNB law school a little over 4 months ago. His appointment was announced to us law students with much fanfare and excitement. Expectations were high, and rightly so. Here was a man that is billed as one of the world’s foremost authorities in the area of the law of the use of force, international human rights law, humanitarian law, peace studies and African politics. Four months later, he is on an unexplained leave of absence. No word on his return or any official word on why he is gone.
Coupled with Dr. Levitt’s disappearance is the stress/sick leave disappearance of at least three law professors, the resignation of one, and the resignation of The Honourable Gérald LaForest, a former Supreme Court Justice who resigned last November from his position of Scholar-in-Residence, although it appears not for health reasons as his letter makes it clear he is continuing his active role at Stewart McKelvey.
This is why Dr. Eddy Campbell, UNB president, and Dr. Tony Secco, vice president academic (Fredericton) were at the law school last Thursday hoping to quiet concerns amongst the student body. Although this was a private meeting, closed to media and outsiders, I have no problem telling the readers that all that was basically said was “keep calm and carry on” and “we’ve got this!”
No information regarding the circumstances of Dr. Levitt’s leave, what appear to be random class cancellations, marks from last semester not returned or the disappearance of professors. None. Nada. Zip. Students shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about it, we were told. Keep your heads in your books and plough through!
UNB Law has been called the “Crown Jewel” of UNB. Praises are heaped from among high about the UNB law grads well rounded legal education and well prepared skills for the practice of law. Now, don’t get me wrong, UNB law is decent. There are some fantastic professors here and I do not regret my choice. But, talk to any law student and they will raise concerns about certain professors’ quality, lack of course selection for certain semesters, and the random rescheduling of courses with little input from students (read: future donors).
These concerns have been expressed on high to admin and nothing seems to be done. Add to this the unexplained disappearance of yet another dean (Dean Peach left from his position in 2013, with no explanation to students) and you’ve got one annoyed student body (read: future donors). You also have wild speculation amongst the student body, which is being fuelled by shit-disturbing professors.
Dr. Secco implores that he didn’t know the doin’s transpiring at UNB Law until last week, although it’s been painfully clear from a student perspective since last semester. Now, Eddy and Tony are telling the students “don’t worry, we’ve got this.” Pardon me if I’m not optimistic. The “Crown Jewel” of UNB has been losing its shine and the jewelers haven’t noticed and now they want to reassure us that it’s all under control, without telling us what is happening.
I know the old adage is “loose lips sink ships” but maybe it’s time for the captain to tell the crew where the buckets are so the crew can help bail her out.
Jordan Thompson is a third-year law student and will be on an unexplained leave of absence for an undetermined period of time.