Subscribers to the Women’s Caucus listserve received a message yesterday with the following information: “Due to the volume and content of recent messages on the WC-CPSA list serve, and following consultation with members of the WC, the WC-CPSA is now a moderated list-serve. Its purpose is to share information about job opportunities and future events of interest to WC subscribers”. It is also noted that Janice Newton is the person who will moderate the listserve (see Email from Jane Arscott on the Ethics page of this blog).
And just when things were starting to get interesting. I had posted a message (see Widdowson Letter to Women’s Caucus – January 4 on the Ethics page) in response to an email from Jill Vickers, who was warning Janet Ajzenstat about the perils of “casting aspersions on a colleagues’ [sic] professional reputation using this public medium without [key] information” (see Email from Jill Vickers – January 3). Then, Rhoda Howard-Hassmann told me she was intending to send a message to the listserve encouraging the Women’s Caucus to support the presentation of my work (see Email from Howard-Hassmann – January 4). Unfortunately, members were prevented from receiving Howard-Hassmann’s message, which also provided some important criticisms of research ethics restrictions on the study of aboriginal peoples.
Now, I would be a little more open to the idea that the listserve is only supposed to “share information about job opportunities and future events of interest to WC subscribers”, if it had not been used for a month in 2008 to make libelous claims about my conduct. “Casting aspersions” about my “professional reputation” was certainly not objected to; rather it appeared to be enthusiatically supported. Janice Newton, the person now appointed to “moderate” the listserve even compiled the anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations that “overt and blatant racism” had been expressed at a CPSA panel – “aspersions” that were then distributed on the listserve and then made public on the Women’s Caucus’ website.
There is one other interesting piece of information in Arscott’s message. It is noted that the decision to go to a moderated discussion occurred “following consultation with members of the WC”. But who are the “members of the WC”? All women in the Canadian Political Science Association? All women who subscribe to the listserve? I am a female member of the CPSA who subscribes to the listserve, but I was not consulted. This means that “members of the WC” are actually a clique masquerading as the voice of women within the CPSA.