TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN
English students at Brandon University have been left scrambling for answers after an English professor's arrest and subsequent placement on apparent leave.
Brandon University English Prof. John Blaikie has been charged with impaired driving, RCMP confirmed Tuesday, after he was allegedly pulled over returning from a conference in Regina with three other students.
According to RCMP, the 66-year-old professor was pulled over by police shortly after 4 p.m. on Jan. 19 on the Trans-Canada Highway in the RM of Whitehead between Virden and Brandon.
RCMP say the "vehicle was being operated at a high rate of speed" and Blaikie showed signs of impairment.
RCMP also confirmed Blaikie was travelling with three other passengers and was arrested for impaired operation of a motor vehicle and later provided breath samples above the legal limit.
RCMP say Blaikie has been charged with impaired driving and driving over .08. His first Brandon court appearance is scheduled for March 3.
BU students say the professor has been on administrative leave since Jan. 20 after attending a conference at the University of Regina with three other students on Jan. 18.
Students were left scrambling for answers Tuesday as BU administration had yet to release any details surrounding his absence.
"This is our official statement on this matter — ‘Brandon University does not comment on personnel matters. We would like to assure students that classes will continue to be offered,’" BU president Deborah Poff said via email Tuesday.
"All classes are being taught," a follow up email from Poff stated, but didn’t specify who is covering them.
Two BU students confirmed that no official notice from administration was provided in regards to the disruption and not all of Blaikie’s classes are currently being covered.
Blaikie currently teaches 20th century literature, science fiction and Shakespeare to first and second-year students.
Out of those three courses, BU student Alex Murray was able to confirm that four of his Shakespere classes have gone uncovered since his absence.
Murray said he hopes releasing this information will give BU administrators the extra push to communicate with students.
"It is something we should know about," he said. "Getting through the bureaucracy here ... has been just an absolute nightmare."
Blaikie has been a popular figure on BU’s campus for more than 25 years, Murray said.
Murray took two of his classes in the past and remembers him as a professor who provided students with a "very relaxed atmosphere."
"Seventy-five per cent of students loved him, the other 25 per cent didn’t like how relaxed his class was," he said. "It was always interesting and it was always fun."
Calls to Blaikie, faculty of arts dean Bruce Strang and Brandon University Faculty Association president Todd Fugleberg went unreturned Tuesday.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 29, 2014