On 1 January 2017, Carleton instituted one of the most counterproductive policies of all time: moving the daily e-mail newsletter of events, Today@Carleton, to an intranet. Until 31 December 2016, anybody could subscribe to this newsletter, a newsletter that contained a plethora of information-rich announcements of public events on campus, such as public lectures, public workshops, and sporting events. These five-times a week e-mails also contained links to full versions of announcements of each event. This was an incredibly valuable service that really made Carleton seem like an open and giving member of the community.
At the start of 2017, this five-day week e-mail feed was replaced with another five-day a week e-mail feed, Carleton Top 5, but only people with a Carleton computer ID and password can subscribe to it. And even then, this new e-mail feed contains much less information per event, usually only the first line from what previously was an entire paragraph, and many fewer events per day (5) than the old daily newsletter (varied, but usually 10-20). As a Carleton employee, I still get the same number of e-mails per week, five from both the old and new service, but have to expend far more effort to obtain any useful information. The links for each event now can only be accessed by logging into Carleton’s new intranet. Why the extreme secrecy and lack of transparency, especially for public events? Was this an over-reaction to protests over Carleton sponsoring a meeting on how to prosecute indigenous and environmental protestors as terrorists by invoking Bill C-51? Was this an over-reaction to protests over the Board of Governors lack of consultation on important matters, such as a sexual violence policy and tuition increases? How can we attract the public that used to rely on the old e-mail subscription to attend important events, such as hearing Nobel laureates give talks, the annual discovery lecture, and various weekly departmental seminars?
I am including this matter in my Board of Governors blog in the hopes that the board’s community relations committee takes action to return a modicum of transparency to Carleton by moving the daily e-mail newsletter back to an open source instrument for anybody in the public to subscribe to and without password-protected links.