One of the major issues to emerge from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) 'Hate Thesis' scandal is the question of academic standards at OISE.
The University of Toronto, of which OISE is a faculty, has defended the thesis on the basis of academic freedom. That is a valid point about contentious ideas, which should be aired in universities. But the main issue regarding the hate thesis is the question of whether that particular thesis, which was riddled with factual errors and substandard scholarship, being accepted as the basis of an awarded Masters degree, indicates an fanatical institutional bias at OISE's Sociology and Equity Studies in Education program that places anti-Zionist ideology above scholarship.
In the Jewish Chronicle Online, British academic Geoffrey Alderman wrote a scathing critique of the Hate Thesis, discussing how it fails to achieve the minimum academic standards that should be required of something forming the basis of a post-graduate degree.
In reply, Professor Paul Franks, at the University of Toronto's Centre for Jewish Studies, wrote a letter in which he states how the significance of a University of Toronto MA degree "varies widely. In many instances it serves as a minimal introduction to the world of post-graduate study."
He further states that "Ms Peto's thesis is a glorified term paper, judged adequate by two faculty members."
Professor Franks' defense of the University of Toronto's behaviour in this matter raises more questions than it answers.
His letter implies that the academic standards at OISE fall well below that of the other faculties at U of T.
However to have that variance and low standards in some programs denigrates the university as a whole and seems to imply that an OISE degree isn't worth much.
How does the University of Toronto feel about the fact that prospective employers and other institutions have to evaluate a University of Toronto degree based on the individual faculty? Will they even bother? And how do graduates of U of T feel about this attitude towards their achievement, or in the case of OISE, potential lack thereof?
These are questions that the University of Toronto has still failed to adequately address.