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In a previous post, I lamented how Carleton University repeatedly failed to provide its Board of Governors with a legal opinion to support proposed bylaw changes. The closest the board got to a legal opinion was an advisor to the Board stating at the 25 June 2015 Board meeting, when the bylaw changes were being discussed and debated in so-called open session, that his verbal words constituted the university’s official legal opinion. At that 25 June meeting, once the motion to vote electronically on bylaw changes passed, the chair of the Board refused to entertain further discussion of or amendment to the proposed bylaw changes. On 26 June 2015, the chair of the Board rejected my point of order claiming that the motion to vote electronically violated the Board’s bylaws. Finally, an hour after the chair’s rejection of my point of order, the Board was provided with a written legal opinion from an advisor to the Board. Yes, you read that correctly: Only after all discussion and debate of the bylaws were completed and all further amendments were foreclosed did Board members get to read a legal opinion!

Making this tactic seem even more brazen and shameless, the belated written legal opinion was marked “privileged and confidential”, even though it purports to merely reflect what was said at a so-called open session of the board.

What I can, however, legally provide (because they were discussed in open session and were never marked as being confidential or privileged) are links to the proposed bylaw changes. Click the links below for:

The electronic vote on these proposed bylaw changes opened on 26 June and closes on 30 June 2015.

Note added 14 August 2015: The electronic vote on bylaw changes was suspended after this blog was originally posted on 29 June 2015.

Note added 14 August 2015: I would like to retract the statements that appeared in my blog post on 25 June 2015 regarding Carleton University’s general counsel, Steven Levitt. The statements were not made with any malicious intent to lie or defame Steven Levitt or any other member of the Board of Governors. I completely retract the false information and apologize for the mistake.

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While no less authentic and accurate than the previous three parts of this blog post, Part 4 should seem more normal, being more of a recap of the many sorts of reports that arise from a roughly semi-monthly so-called ‘open session’ of a board of people that truly care about Carleton University.

New health building

A representative from the vice president finance’s office presented architectural plans for the new health building. The first floor will mostly be comprised of a 350-seat lecture hall. The second floor will be comprised of teaching laboratories for the two resident departments in that building, neuroscience and health, plus office space for those two departments along the windows. The third and fourth floors will be comprised of research labs for the two resident departments, again with office space for those two departments along the windows. The fifth and sixth floors will be flexible space for teaching wet labs. The representative from the vice president finance’s office claimed that it has not yet been designated who will use space on the fifth and sixth floors. However, he specifically mentioned that this space could be used for handling chemistry and/or biology labs. He then said that earlier in the day the dean of science had signed off on the final design for the new building. Finally, the seventh floor will be for the vivarium, which I assume is largely located on the top floor for security reasons, i.e. to thwart animal-rights protestors, without being too disruptive to other people in the building.

Someone asked if financing for this building had changed. The vice president finance responded that financing has not changed because Carleton is still self-funding this building. For those who wonder where lots of our surplus revenues are going, this is a huge fiscal sink, along with reserve funds to deal with pension solvency. This constitutes the university gambling $52 million or more of its own money. I leave it to others to decide whether this was a good gamble, especially with the ever-increasing price tag for this new health building.

Someone asked about how much parking the new building would displace. The representative from the vice president finance’s office said that only one-third of lot P2 would remain, which would be the already separate portion of that lot adjacent to the architecture building. When asked what would compensate for the loss of parking spaces, they responded that Carleton had recently built 615 new parking spaces over the O-Train tracks, which (to me) was a poor investment at $34 million. But the representative from the vice president finance’s office then said something that surprised me: that the university is still considering doubling the size of that new parking garage by building upwards. I had hoped that Carleton would be out of the business of building new parking garages to ostensibly support large events at Landsdowne ‘Park’. This rekindled thoughts of (and newspaper columns about) perceived fiduciary conflicts of interest with a former Carleton University Board of Governor member who had and probably still has vested interest in promoting football in Ottawa.

More on proposed bylaw changes

An advisor to the Board mentioned a few other noteworthy things about the proposed Board bylaw changes that are worth reporting on. For example, in Part 3 of this blog post, I highlighted the hypocrisy of fiduciary conflicts of interest only applying to students, staff, and faculty, but not to at-large Board members. This somewhat makes sense in a perverted way because only at-large Board members are allowed to serve on the Board’s executive committee. Someone at the 25 June 2015 meeting raised the important issue that the proposed bylaw changes also exempted alumni representatives on the Board from having to resign if they had a fiduciary conflict of interest.

Regarding the two proposed bylaw changes to prohibit employee union officers and student union officers from serving on the Board of Governors, the aforementioned advisor to the Board explicitly stated that Carleton has absolutely no intention of changing the number nor proportion of faculty, staff, and student representatives on the Board. While I am not sure I believe this, it may be of use to record this unambiguous assertion for future reference.

I am also concerned that the university will try to fill any future senate and staff vacancies on the Board with individuals who are not union members, such as exempt staff members and associate deans. For example, in the two years that I have been on the Board, exempt staff members only spoke about or acted on the most inane matters, such as seconding motions. Honestly, I cannot blame them for being scared because they could lose their day jobs by speaking up on the Board.

In April 2015 (see details here), the required six Board members properly called for a special session of the Board. The Board’s executive refused to convene that special session, violating its own bylaws. As apparent retribution, the Board’s executive now proposes that the bylaws be changed so that nine Board members are required to call a special session. The timing seems blatantly punitive. Furthermore, the proposed bylaw would vest crafting and disseminating the agenda for such a special session with the Board’s executive, not with those who called the special session.

As the Board chair was successfully foreclosing all further discussion of proposed bylaw changes on 25 June 2015 – even though many members were still clamouring to say more – one of the student members of the Board asked to propose an amendment to one of the four existing motions. The Board chair responded, “Is this a meaningful amendment?” The student member then proposed deleting an entire paragraph from one of the proposed new bylaws, which was indeed meaningful. The Board chair and the aforementioned advisor to the Board then ruled that this proposed amendment was out of order because the Board had already voted to hold the vote electronically on a subsequent day. This ruling was based on the fact that amendments cannot be raised once a vote is called. However, a vote was not officially called until 24 hours later via an e-mail from the university secretary. Several Board members objected to this ruling from the chair, but to no avail. This was yet another apparent example of the Board’s executive trampling or ignoring the rule of law and parliamentary procedure. And dare I remind readers that this Board chair has been known to ask for re-votes.

Executive committee action substituting for disrupted Board meeting

The 30 March 2015 open session of the Board was interrupted by a peaceful student protest. This not only resulted in the Board’s extreme overreaction of closing open sessions, but also meant that the university’s ancillary budget was not voted upon at a regular full session. Therefore, properly in my eyes, the Board’s executive committee voted on the ancillary budget at their next meeting. The problem was that specific open session agenda item got shunted into minutes of the executive committee, which are confidential documents reviewed in closed sessions of the full Board. I therefore asked (see here) that those portions of the executive committee minutes be bifurcated and moved over to an open document. At the 25 June 2015 ‘open session’, the Board’s executive agreed to that process for the recent ancillary budget. However, they said that, if this happens again in the future, that the executive committee minutes on such a topic would instead be summarized by the chair and only that summary would be placed in open publicly-available documents. In principle, I am okay with that decision, at least if sufficient detail is provided, because minutes themselves are just a summary.

Closing remarks

It has been a productive but frustrating two years for me on the Carleton University Board of Governors. While board members all seem to really care about the university, several of them would seemingly like to completely eliminate due process and debate. While this would shorten meeting times, in the long-run this tack seems counter-productive. I sincerely hope you have gotten some useful information from these blog posts, which solely reflect my opinions, observations, and insights of the non-confidential portions of Board business. Please continue sending your feedback, both offline and possibly online via the ‘comments’ section. Thanks.

Note added 14 August 2015: I would like to retract the statements that appeared in my blog post on 25 June 2015 regarding Carleton University’s general counsel, Steven Levitt. The statements were not made with any malicious intent to lie or defame Steven Levitt or any other member of the Board of Governors. I completely retract the false information and apologize for the mistake.

Two of the proposed bylaw changes that are being voted upon electronically in a manner that contravenes the Board’s bylaws and contravenes Robert’s Rules of Order would, if passed, prohibit officers of employee unions and student unions from serving on the Carleton University Board of Governors. In this posting, I will discuss a mélange of process and substantive issues regarding these proposed bylaw changes.

For the past year, board members have been told that legal opinions exist that allow for exclusion of union officers from the Board of Governors, but the Board’s executive has never shown these legal opinions to Board members. I sit on the Board’s governance committee, but have never seen a legal opinion. When I asked about this at the so-called open session of the Board on 25 June 2015, an advisor to the Board claimed that his spoken words that evening constituted the university’s legal opinion. That is a poor way to run a board, especially when the Board is trying to make major policy changes that have been debated on-and-off by Carleton’s Board of Governors for almost two years. However, for the sake of argument, let’s analyze the verbal legal opinion herein of that advisor to the Board.

The advisor to the Board stated that it is very highly unusual for a board to have members that are either employees or customers. He then uttered, as part of his legal opinion, that the university considers students to be customers. While cringe-worthy, I shall ignore that insult. Several members of the Board then chimed in that having faculty, staff, and students on Boards of Governors is fairly common in Canadian universities. Therefore, in my opinion, the argument by the advisor to the Board was based on looking at the wrong population of boards. This reflects one of my major gripes about Carleton’s Board of Governors, that many at-large members think they are on a corporate board, seeming to forget that there is a different context to university boards, where academic freedom and intellectual debate actually might matter (this is probably one reason that the Board’s executive tries to intimidate me into not blogging).

The advisor to the Board’s only other remaining argument was much more fascinating, emphasizing the importance of conflict of interest, especially with regards to fiduciary responsibilities. I fully agree with him that this matters. But from that point on, his legal opinion and mine diverge. He explicitly claimed that fiduciary conflict of interest is so important on Carleton’s Board that recusal from specific matters is not sufficient. Therefore, he stated that only prohibition from the Board will suffice if there is even any perceived fiduciary conflict of interest. He further said that it was his opinion that such a bylaw would not violate either Charter Rights nor the [Ontario] Labour Relations Act, but he gave absolutely no basis for this latter opinion. The open session in which this was said was recorded for live-streaming, hence the advisor to the Board’s principle rational for the proposed bylaw changes – recusal being insufficient for removing fiduciary conflict of interest – can be verified.

If I extend the logic in the verbal legal opinion presented by the advisor to the Board, then any Board member involved in development, construction, or architecture would thereby be banned from serving on Carleton University’s Board of Governors. In the past year, two external members of the Board, who I think are both great Board members, have rightfully and voluntarily recused themselves from Board decisions in which their companies had clear financial interests. Yet the proposed Board bylaws only target fiduciary conflict of interest of faculty, staff, and students, not of at-large (external) Board members. If unequal treatment of internal versus external board members is deemed inappropriate, then I believe that the Board is left with no valid legal opinion on which to vote upon bylaw changes.

Compounding matters, even if the proposed bylaw changes are only uniformly applied to Carleton employees and students, this would still necessitate that the university president be removed from the Board! She has as much of a role in university finances as anybody on the Board. She also deals with grievances, which the bylaws changes, if implemented, also say prohibits someone from being a Board member. And, yes, Carleton’s president is a voting Board member, as she probably should be.

We also need to examine specific language of the proposed bylaw changes. The proposed bylaw change affecting employees would specifically prohibit Board members who “(i) negotiate with the Board, on behalf of their constituency group; or (ii) adjudicate disputes regarding their constituency group.” The downright peculiar aspect of this wording is that employee unions negotiate with Carleton’s upper management, not with the Board. The Board never negotiates with unions; they only ratify collective agreements agreed to by unions and the university president. Therefore the first clause of this proposed bylaw change is utterly vacuous.

This got me asking about the origins of the wording of the proposed bylaws. It turns out that Carleton apparently simply lifted this wording from a 2012 amendment to the University Act of British Columbia of 1996. For the precise wording, see 50 § 23(1) at the following website for the 2012 amendment to 47 University Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 468. This BC law is unique in Canada, not shared by any of the other provinces or territories. Therefore the BC University Act says nothing about whether Carleton’s proposed bylaw change would contravene the Ontario Labour Relations Act. Furthermore, universities and colleges in BC mounted a Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge to the 2012 amendment, a challenge that is currently in abeyance. So it is still completely equivocal whether Carleton’s almost identical wording in the proposed bylaw changes would violate the Charter. I believe that the information in this paragraph should have been in any legal opinion provided to Carleton University’s Board of Governors, and that this omission should justify reconsideration or rejection of any bylaw changes regarding eligibility to serve on the Board.

I would be remiss to not briefly mention other arguments for allowing union officers to serve on the Board. For instance, union officers are often the most engaged and knowledgeable people at the university. For another instance, the proposed bylaw change would preclude many students from serving on the Board despite having no substantial financial stake in Board decisions. Yet Board bylaws do not prohibit such blatant conflicts of interest as sexual relationships between Board members and members of the university’s upper management. Other people can or have made these other arguments far better than me, so I should largely stick to due process, as I have done through almost all the other paragraphs in this post. The bottom line is that there has been no good reason given to preclude officers of student unions and employee unions from serving on Carleton University’s Board of Governors.

As always, this blog posting only reflects my opinions and observations from the so-called ‘open session’ of the Board. For a more official story, please see the official minutes of the meeting once they are approved. This posting does not include any material from the so-called closed session nor from any material from confidential sources. I will cover other matters from the Board’s so-called open session in Part 4 of this posting. And as always, I truly welcome your comments.

Note added 14 August 2015: I would like to retract the statements that appeared in my blog post on 25 June 2015 regarding Carleton University’s general counsel, Steven Levitt. The statements were not made with any malicious intent to lie or defame Steven Levitt or any other member of the Board of Governors. I completely retract the false information and apologize for the mistake.

At the 25 June 2015 open session of the Board of Governors, voting occurred or was arranged to occur in ways that blatantly contravened the Board’s bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order. Motions had been made in absentia by the chair of the governance committee to implement four changes to the Board’s bylaws. I will review substantive arguments regarding specifics of the proposed bylaw changes in subsequent posts. Here I want to exclusively focus on the process by which voting on the proposed bylaw changes was arranged in a way that contravened the Board’s bylaws and contravened Robert’s Rules of Order.

Near the start of the so-called open session on 25 June 2015, the chair of the Board announced that the full Board would hold a discussion of the four proposed bylaw changes on 25 June 2015, but would not hold a vote that day. Instead, he announced that an electronic vote would subsequently be held before terms of board members expired, that is on or before 30 June 2015. At least to my eyes, the reason for this unilateral decision was clear: many external Board members (appropriately called “at-large” board members) were absent from the 25 June 2015 board meeting. Yet, based on attendance at the 25 June 2015 meeting, the only way that it seemed possible to me to garner a two-thirds supermajority for the proposed bylaw changes would be to somehow count votes of these absent external Board members. Given that Board bylaws prohibit proxy voting and only allow votes by members physically present or present via the phone, a subsequent electronic vote seemed to be the only way for the Board’s executive to guarantee that the proposed bylaw changes would pass.

Given that I have strong substantive problems with three of the four proposed bylaw changes, I therefore called for all such motions to be voted on in-person during the open session of 25 June 2015. An external Board member called for the opposite, namely a vote approving an electronic vote on bylaw changes after the meeting but before the end of the calendar month. My motion failed. The motion to approve electronic voting on bylaw changes garnered 13 of 21 votes, i.e. it garnered a majority but less than a two-thirds supermajority of the votes.

Board bylaws specify that altering bylaws requires a two-thirds supermajority. Board bylaws specify that only members who are present in the boardroom or on teleconference or video-conference can vote for bylaw changes or other so-called ‘special resolutions’. Board bylaws require that bylaw changes and other special resolutions require a five-day notice prior to a vote. The motion authorizing electronic voting for bylaw changes therefore modified existing bylaws. Therefore the motion authorizing electronic voting on bylaw changes required at least a two-thirds supermajority per the Board’s existing bylaws. Waiving the five-day notice requirement also required a two-thirds supermajority per the Board’s existing bylaws.

At the board meeting on 25 June 2015, an internal Board member raised the objection that electronic voting was itself a bylaw change. On 26 June 2016, I raised a point of order that the motion allowing electronic voting did not garner a two-thirds supermajority and did not meet the five-day notice requirement. My formal point of order was:

Point of Order: Due to severe procedural defects, the Carleton University Board of Governors needs to either nullify or rescind [the] motion to hold an electronic vote to change Board bylaws, where [the] motion stipulated that an electronic vote occur on or before 30 June 2015.

Rationale: The motion for an electronic vote contravenes the Board’s bylaws in two fundamental ways. First, the motion for an electronic vote abrogated article 1.1 of the bylaws by not garnering a two-thirds vote for changing the bylaws, which currently requires that only members who are present in the boardroom or on teleconference or videoconference can vote on special resolutions. A simple majority vote should never count for altering the bylaws, which is what [the] motion did. Yet [the] motion for an electronic vote was approved with 13 votes in favour, 8 opposed, and no abstentions out of the 21 voting members present, i.e. fell one vote short of the required supermajority. Second, [the] motion [for an electronic vote] modified the bylaws by eliminating the five-day notice requirement for special resolutions per article 11.4(a) of the bylaws. Modifications of bylaws are special resolutions per article 10.2. The motion for an electronic vote was first raised from the floor on 25 June 2015, i.e. without the five-day notice. Willful contravention of Board bylaws seems like an actionable breach of contract.

Action requested: Do NOT hold an electronic vote on bylaw changes until at least the next full meeting of the Board of Governors

Later on 26 June 2015, the chair of the Board dismissed my point of order, claiming that my point of order was raised too late and therefore violated Robert’s Rules of Order. In particular, the chair wrote via the university secretary that:

According to Robert’s Rules of Order (Chapter VIII, 23), a Point of Order “…must be raised promptly at the time the breach occurs.” The Rules also note that “…the time to raise these points of order is when the chair states the motion.  After debate on such a motion has begun – no matter how clearly out of order the motion may be – a point of order is too late.”

I immediately claimed that this was a specious argument for multiple reasons. First, the point of order was raised in a timely manner by the aforementioned internal Board member on 25 June 2015, but never resolved at the open session. Second, the objection by the chair of the Board to my raising a point of order after debate had begun was totally irrelevant because motions regarding voting do not have debates. Third, during the past year, the chair of the Board has unilaterally decided to hold re-votes long after votes on motions had been finalized (see for example here, under the section titled “Due Process 1: Basic Board Procedures”). Finally, I invoked Roberts Rule of Order Chapter VIII, Article 47, titled “Votes that are null and void even if unanimous”, whose first sentence states:

No motion is in order that conflicts with the laws of the nation, or state, or with the assembly’s constitution or by-laws, and if such a motion is adopted, even by a unanimous vote, it is null and void.

The motion to allow electronic votes on bylaw changes was clearly a violation of existing bylaws hence was a perfect invocation for Robert’s Rule of Order Article 47. Nonetheless, within an hour of my invoking Article 47 to the chair of the Board and the university president, Carleton’s Board of Governors officially called the electronic vote to alter its bylaws.

While I am not a lawyer, Carleton University’s Board of Governors’ abrogation of their own bylaws seems like a willful breach of contract.

Note added 14 August 2015: I would like to retract the statements that appeared in my blog post on 25 June 2015 regarding Carleton University’s general counsel, Steven Levitt. The statements were not made with any malicious intent to lie or defame Steven Levitt or any other member of the Board of Governors. I completely retract the false information and apologize for the mistake.

The 25 June 2015 open session of the Board of Governors was epic insofar as the board’s executive and an outside advisor to the Board seemed to excoriate due process. There was so much apparent wrongdoing for me to describe and analyze at that meeting that I shall stretch this out over several blog postings. This first post regarding the Board’s 25 June 2015 meeting continues from my previous post by discussing the fiction of calling these open sessions.

In the past, Carleton University’s Board of Governors would hold bona fide open sessions in the Senate Room, which had seating for the entire Board, administrative underlings, and at least three-dozen members of the public. Three years ago, when the Board moved to the River Building, seating for only a half-dozen members of the public were set aside. As of the 30 April and 25 June 2015 meetings of the Board of Governors, zero members of the public were allowed to attend open sessions. This is why the phrase “open session” is an Orwellian misnomer.

Ten minutes before the start of the 25 June 2015 open session of the Board, I tried bringing a reporter from the school newspaper, the Charlatan, into the meeting as my guest. The reporter never made it past the four special constables guarding the boardroom door as though it were Fort Knox. The police blocked his passage, but were professional enough to relay my message to those inside the boardroom requesting permission for a Charlatan reporter to enter the meeting as my guest. After about a three-minute delay, the special constables still forbade passage of the reporter. As usual the special constables were amazingly professional.

Forbidding the press from attending and reporting on open sessions of the Board of Governors has been a consistent line of attack by the university president and Board’s executive. I had previously reported (here) on how people at the head of the Board table asked that the Charlatan obtain prior permission before recording open sessions back in October 2013. But now the Board simply forbids the press from attending. This is an extreme example of lack of openness and lack of transparency.

Not allowing a journalist into an open session is hypocritical insofar as other guests are routinely allowed into board meetings, including closed sessions, such as members of Carleton’s management team. Even more extreme, an external guest was welcome at both the open and closed session of the board on 28 April 2015.

The past two Board meetings have only been open to the public via live-streaming to a remote location at the opposite end of campus, in Southam Hall. Incidentally, this remote site in Southam Hall was also guarded by special constables during the live-streaming, although I cannot imagine why Carleton’s administration is urinating away monies by assigning such police duties. As one internal member of the Board highlighted, the only remaining option for the public and press, that of watching remote live-streaming, is like saying that watching Parliament or a concert via video link is equivalent to seeing them live. Open should mean open.

Given that so-called open sessions are live-streamed to the public, why are these vodcasts not permanently archived and made available to the public as internet links on the Board’s website? Why maintain minutes of meetings when they are electronically recorded? I would love a recording of all the things that Carleton’s Board and its advisors uttered on 25 June 2015.

The first matter for possible discussion at the 25 June 2015 Board meeting was approval of the open session agenda. I objected to it being called an “open session” agenda, arguing that it should instead be titled something like the “closed, but not confidential session” agenda. Immediately thereafter, I complained that if this were an open session, then the reporter from the Charlatan should have been allowed to observe the meeting from the boardroom. An advisor to Carleton’s Board replied that guests were only allowed into the open session on 25 June 2015 if they had first made a written request and then obtained written permission from the Board’s executive to attend. If this is true, I would like to see the written requests and permissions for attendance by members of Carleton’s management team. I am pretty sure that FIPPA requests would not yield any written requests to admit these internal managers to the 25 June 2015 Board meeting. At the Board meeting, I responded to the aforementioned advisor to the Board, asking where in the Board’s bylaws is it stipulated that anybody needs to make written requests and obtain written permission to attend an open session. The advisor to the Board replied that the there is no such direction in the bylaws nor Board procedures, but that the chair of the Board has discretion to close any Board meeting. Therefore the advisor to the Board admitted that open sessions of the Board are really nothing more than closed sessions. Wow.

The watermark for the open session agenda states that Carleton is located on traditional Algonquin lands. The irony of closing open sessions is that the long-time stewards of these lands would not even be allowed to attend an open session on their traditional territory.

Supposedly, by 30 June 2015, an electronic vote that contravenes the Board’s bylaws and contravenes Robert’s Rules of Order will occur to change the Board’s bylaws to memorialize that open sessions be closed, i.e. live-streamed. I will have more to say on the topic of that and other upcoming questionable elections in part 2 of this series of postings detailing the events of 25 June 2015.

This blog posting only reflects my opinions and observations from the so-called ‘open session’ of the Board. For a more official story, please see the official minutes of the meeting once they are approved. This posting does not include any material from the so-called closed session nor from any material from confidential sources. As always, I truly welcome your comments.

Note added 14 August 2015: I would like to retract the statements that appeared in my blog post on 25 June 2015 regarding Carleton University’s general counsel, Steven Levitt. The statements were not made with any malicious intent to lie or defame Steven Levitt or any other member of the Board of Governors. I completely retract the false information and apologize for the mistake.

The previous board chair repeatedly told me that one of the most important things board members can do is enhance the reputation of the university, not besmirch it. Yet, the board’s executive committee has seriously harmed Carleton’s reputation by preemptively closing off their open sessions to the public and press. This is the antithesis of transparent, open, and participatory governance. As with the 28 April 2015 open session of the board, at the 25 June 2015 open session, the board will NOT allow anybody but board members into the boardroom for the open sessions, except for special guests of the university president. This tactic is heavy-handed and totalitarian.

The announcement of the 25 June 2015 open session on the board’s website (link here) states the following, in which I have transcribed verbatim bolding and capitalization:

Please note that the OPEN session of the June 25, 2015 Board meeting will be streamed live to room 617 Southam Hall from 4pm until the end of the open session (approximately 5pm), for members of the Carleton community who wish to attend.

Closing of so-called open sessions of this or any other board meeting is Orwellian doublespeak. In April 2015, Michael Wernick, chair of the board’s governance committee and deputy clerk of the privy council, unapologetically referred to student protestors as “Brownshirts and Maoists”. This is ironic and hypocritical given that decision-making bodies (parliament, politburo, etc.) were closed to public scrutiny in both Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Mao Zedong’s China.

There is no need to keep the public and press out of open sessions of Carleton University’s Board of Governors. There are already sufficient procedures in place to deal with protests shutting down open sessions, as was demonstrated earlier this year. Student protests at the 30 March 2015 open session precluded regular business, some of which was important, such as approval of the ancillary budget. The board’s executive committee is tasked with dealing with such important matters if the full board cannot fulfill its duties in a timely manner, which is exactly what happened and without any complaint.

I have spent more of my life in the United States than in Canada and have proudly attended many open sessions of Congress, including their committee meetings, as well as Supreme Court oral arguments. Openness makes those institutions robust. So it is deeply embarrassing that Carleton University, which really should have nothing to hide, skulks around like a mortified wrongdoer by closing open sessions of its board.

I suspect that the board’s executive and university president have taken the totalitarian and Orwellian approach of closing open sessions of the board because they despise the optics of admitting that protestors actually exist and, even more so, truly abhor the optics of police removing protestors, as happens at many public meetings. If the board’s executive and Carleton’s upper administration is really that weak, then they should consider resigning from their respective posts. Running a university requires fortitude, courage, and willingness to keep an open mind, including listening to those with divergent opinions, especially listening to relatively powerless individuals. I am genuinely embarrassed by the board’s feckless attempt to silence protest by not allowing the pubic and press to attend so-called open sessions.