The following is my report from the 2 February 2017 open session of Carleton University’s board of governors. The first two sections highlight major due process problems, with the board seeming – at least to a naïve observer like me – to be violating provincial laws and the board’s own bylaws.

Sealing and destruction of open records

The board chair began by saying that the open session was being audio recorded, that the recording would not be made available but was only be used to insure accuracy of the minutes, and that the audio recording would be destroyed once minutes were drafted. This is an open meeting. Why keep the recording secret? If someone were to file a Freedom of Information and Personal Privacy Act (FIPPA) request for these recordings, what would be the board’s reply? Does section 10.1 of FIPPA preclude such willful destruction of public records? In terms of FIPPA, how do these audio recordings differ from e-mails to and from the university president? If the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) censure of Carleton is mostly about lack of transparency, then destruction of records of open meetings is truly an indictment.

Not only does the board appear to be violating FIPPA by destroying audio recordings of open session, the board also appears to be violating its own bylaws. The relevant part of Appendix A to the board’s bylaws state:

The ordinary requirement emerging from the various statutes and legal rules is that all records created by the University are available to the public pursuant to the right to information established by those statutes and rules, except to the extent that a particular record is exempt from disclosure pursuant to those statutes or rules. There is no ordinary right in the University to prevent public disclosure of University records simply by considering the matter and creating the record pursuant to a session of a meeting that the University has held in camera, whether at the Board or Committee level. The University may allow that a matter be considered in a closed session of a meeting for the sake of frank and open discussion, but any record generated as a result of that discussion is available to the public unless the record is otherwise exempt from disclosure.

By destroying audio recordings, the board is therefore violating its own bylaws. Likewise the board continues to violate the above paragraph by refusing to release any minutes from its executive committee.

Archiving of the audio recording is even more important because recently approved minutes are so poorly proofread. For example, in the minutes of the open session of 1 December 2016, ‘opposed’ is spelled ‘apposed’, ‘CUPE 2424’ is listed as ‘SUPE 2424’, and there are many grammatical errors (e.g. “Mr. Evans and Dr. Sloan followed the followed the policy development…”).

Approving a new governor

A year ago, the primary excuse given for needing and approving new board bylaws was compliance with the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA), which mandated separate members and governors meetings. Governors meetings are for regular business, while members meetings are for special things like election of new governors and reviewing financial statements. This is enshrined in board bylaw 3.02. The problem is that, contrary to ONCA and contrary to the new bylaws, a new governor was approved at a governors meeting on 2 February 2017, as agenda item 5.1, rather than at a separate members meeting. Furthermore, according to the minutes of the board’s governance committee from 15 October 2015 (which is an open session document), “The General Counsel indicated that he has retained Karen Cooper, an external counsel with expertise in writing Bylaws and Procedures for Universities, who is also well versed in the intricacies of the new Not-For-Profit Legislation.” Those minutes then state that, “General Counsel indicated that a significant change that has been integrated is the need to distinguish between Members of the Board and Governors. It is a requirement, by statute, that the Board hold an Annual General Meeting to approve new members and receive annual audit and financial statements. Currently, this business is conducted, along with other business, at a regular Board meeting.” I have absolutely no idea why the board is now willing to ignore those fundamental policies and procedures, especially with the two principle authors of and advocates for the new bylaws – the current vice-chair of the board and the advisor to the board – both in attendance on 2 February 2017.

I have nothing against the new governor. My problem is solely with the board’s executive once again ignoring its own bylaws. All that had to occur was for the meeting on 2 February 2017 to be bifurcated into a short members meeting followed by a longer governors meeting. That said, at least this time around, the full board actually voted on a new governor, which has not always been the case. I should also point out that the election of the new governor was considered a fait accompli, with the new governor being reserved a seat with a name placard, and with the new governor sitting in an adjacent waiting room until approved. Finally, this new governor voted on several motions, despite not being improperly approved.

Police presence

There was still a large police presence (special constables) surrounding the boardroom. I was still forced to request a first-come first-served audience seat well in advance of the meeting and then wait until less than four hours before the open session before the university secretary informed me that I had an audience seat. I then had to go through two security checkpoints, where special constables checked my name and made sure that I matched the photo on their papers, in order to be allowed into the boardroom of a supposedly “open session”.

Of the eight “audience seats” in the boardroom, three of those seats were again reserved for members of upper management, this time for the vice-president research, dean of science, and chief information officer. Why these people, especially the vice-president research, were not seated at the boardroom table is a mystery to me…unless it is to limit the number of real audience members.

At this board meeting, the director of university safety was stationed immediately outside the boardroom door. He was therefore separated from students and protestors by one or two layers of special constables. There was, thus, little chance that the director would grab and shove student protestors like he did one floor below the previous board meeting.

The police presence seemed restrained at this meeting, at least as far as I could ascertain. During the board’s discussion and voting on tuition increases, the boardroom windows were pelted with snowballs. As best I could discern from inside the boardroom – the back of my head was inches from where snowballs hit the glass – nobody seemed to be stopping protestors from throwing snowballs. I do not condone the throwing of snowballs as a means of protest, but I also understand the students’ frustration. The board does not allow any representation of students in board deliberations. The board no longer conducts an annual forum where the community can present their concerns. The board’s website now contains “procedures governing petitions to the board”, but I do not ever recall these procedures being approved and they cite a non-existent “Board of Governors Bylaw 30” as their references (both the old and new bylaws are only numbered up to 12). Even the student members of the board of governors are now supposedly precluded from representing students as part of their fiduciary duty, something egregiously memorialized in the new bylaws and code of conduct.

Board nominating policy

The board passed a new nominating policy today. In the recent past, the university secretary unilaterally declared candidates ineligible for board of governors seats, despite the board bylaws and procedures giving that individual no such authority. The new policy now vests the university secretary with those unilateral powers. Surprisingly, this was passed without discussion and without dissent. The new board nominating policy does, however, give candidates a modicum of a way to appeal the university secretary’s decision. All appeals go to the nominating committee, whose decision is final. The finality is unusual, as virtually all other board decisions are appealable to the full board of governors.

Neuroscience eviction

Governors asked questions about timing and preparations for relocation of the department of neuroscience, in order to make way for engineering’s new ARSE [Advanced Research in Smart Environments] Building. The minutes of the board’s building committee indicate that there is adequate time and resources for the neuroscience eviction. The vice-president finance said that the 1 March 2017 eviction date was still reasonable, but that neither he nor the board’s building committee actually asked neuroscience if they concurred with this assessment.

The provost said that all neuroscience undergraduate students slated to graduate this June will graduate on time. But the provost then admitted that he had no idea about timeliness of graduation for graduate students. A governor asked what impact the recently announced departure of the dean of science will have on the neuroscience eviction and temporary relocation. The provost said this will have no impact because the dean of science (who incidentally seems to have done all the heavy lifting for the administration on this debacle) will not be leaving Carleton until 30 June 2017 and because the acting dean will be so great. The chair of the board then chimed in to the contrary, that departure of the dean of science will have an impact, but he did not say how. I appreciated the board chair’s candour, especially in comparison with the provost who diminished and downplayed the vital roles played by one of his deans.

The provost’s face turned red when someone asked about the neuroscience eviction and relocation delaying research. The provost basically said that people needed to get over it when the administration imposes renovations and relocations of space, which are simply a regular and unpredictable aspect of academic life. My quickly scribbled notes indicate that the provost said the following, which is probably not an exact quote (hence the need for the board to release the audio recording), “People need to move on when any renovations are scheduled”. Not only does this show disregard and lack of empathy for researchers, but the bigger problem was that provost’s portfolio is teaching, not research. The vice-president research sat behind the provost at this open session, but never uttered a word! At least on paper at Carleton, the vice-president research does not report to the provost, but you would never know that from this altercation and the vice-president research being assigned a seat away from the board table.

The chair of the board’s building committee said that the new health building will be completed in August and that faculty and students will be moved into the new building in September 2017. He also stated that the new ARSE building has an “extremely ambitious completion date”.

Administrative appointments

The agenda posted on the board’s public website listed agenda item 13.1 regarding a presidential appointment, but discussion was reserved for closed session. I have not seen any notice of a presidential re-appointment or search committee being formed, as per board rules, so am curious to know what transpired in closed session regarding a presidential appointment. The board only has specific rules (“appointment guidelines”) for hiring nine people: the president, four vice-presidents, chancellor, university secretary, general counsel, director of internal audit, and possibly ad hoc “appointments by the president of senior academic administrators”. See the open session documents from the 584th board open session for the guidelines, which have not been updated for presidential appointments. So any omission and deviation from procedures here would be quite suspect.

The university president mentioned that searches are ongoing or will be started soon for a new vice president research, head of equity services, chancellor, and four of five line deans (science, business, engineering, and arts & social science). Carleton’s assistant vice-president academic is also departing soon. Those are a lot of big shoes to fill at once, especially for a university that may soon be censured by CAUT.

Ransom-ware and cyber-attack

Carleton’s chief information officer gave the board the same dog-and-pony show about the hack of our computer systems late in 2016 that he gave senate the previous week. He used the same slides, which are still labeled ‘confidential’ although posted on the board’s open website. He read verbatim from the same printed script. He still scapegoated academic freedom (“Open scholarly communication – often coupled with decentralized systems, structures and decision-making authority that are seen as supportive of academic freedom – can make universities easier to attack and exploit than other entities.”). In the end, though, he added a few disturbing new platitudes, such as, “Computer security is all about the journey, not the destination.”

A governor asked whether Carleton business contingency insurance covered cyber-attacks. Before the chief information officer had a chance to reply, the board chair said that yes, it does, and that Carleton had filed a claim against that insurance due to the recent cyber attack. All further discussion was then deferred to closed session. I will, however, note that several faculty, staff, and students incurred financial losses due to the computer hack, but were never informed of this business contingency insurance. Can those individuals be reimbursed form this insurance for financial damage from the cyber-attack? I encourage those affected to file such claims with the chief information officer and vice-president finance.

Tuition Increase

The chair of the board’s finance committee and the university vice-president finance each read aloud pre-written scripts justifying a roughly 3% tuition increase for each of the next two years. Students are asking for a tuition freeze, which would cost roughly $10 million. The vice-president finance presented a pair of options for making up this $10 million in lost revenues. The first option was to increase enrollments by 14% without increasing number of faculty and staff. The second option was to cut 140 staff or 75 faculty members while leaving enrollments fixed. No other options were presented. A governor asked why not take the $10 million out of surpluses, to which the vice-president finance replied that virtually all surpluses in Carleton’s budget are directed to student aid. This assertion regarding surpluses pretty much ended the discussions, even though this assertion seems to be blatantly false. As best I can discern, in order to balance its budget every year, Carleton has been placing surpluses into various reserve funds that can be intermingled and used completely at the discretion of the university president. Thus, when the federal government gave Carleton $13 million for the ARSE Building contingent on matching funds from the university, Carleton could instantly pull $13 million out of reserve funds. Reserve funds, which exceed $100 million, are also how Carleton made a recent $30 million payment towards pension solvency.

There were other glaring problems with the tuition increase. Usually when the board increases tuition, it is a simple pass along of any increases allowed by the province. But the new university funding framework has not yet been announced by the province. The sensible thing to do would be wait for the framework to be announced, which should occur any day now. But the board voted down a motion for such a delay. The former vice-president finance was also fond of making the argument that university expenditures are locked in by collective agreements, necessitating increases in revenues. But when a governor asked how much of salaries and benefits are controlled by collective agreements, the current vice-president finance said that almost none were because most Carleton employees’ collective agreements are being negotiated this spring. Given that the tuition increase was approved, this should give each of the unions much more leverage to negotiate increases in salaries and benefits.

I am sure that student groups will have far more to say about the tuition increase.

Strategic Mandate Agreements

On 1 February 2017, the provincial government sent universities more instructions on strategic mandate agreements, including details about enrollment corridors and which of five broad areas each university wants to focus on.

Each university will get to negotiate enrollment corridors for each academic program. This seems like a noisy process insofar as corridors will be created for many small programs. I had expected corridors to be aggregated across programs, which thereby smoothes through noise and uncertainty. Because of this noise, I hope penalties are not very onerous for having enrollments larger or smaller than specified in the corridors.

The five major areas that universities get to focus on are (1) student experience, (2) teaching and learning (3) research, (4) economic development and innovation, and (5) equity/access. Each university will get to say how much emphasis they wish to put into each category, which could possibly be either zero or a hundred percent. The category of equity/access sounded interesting insofar as it focuses on women in science and engineering, Indigenous access, and people with disabilities. Carleton’s president said that we will emphasize all five. However, it seems that any university would raise deep suspicions with the ministry if they did not place sizeable emphasis on all five categories.

The university president made drafting a Strategic Mandate Agreement sound more like a report on what we do, rather than who we want to be. I cannot tell, though, whether this is a way to marginalize the role of senate.

Trump’s Muslim ban

The university president refused to condemn Mr Trump’s executive order barring people from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States. She said it would be bad practice condemning political decisions. A governor then asked if she would instead do something positive, such as offer domestic tuition for international students from those seven countries. The president’s reply was negative, saying that she thought other universities who were taking this tack were being opportunistic, trying to recruit new international students for the university’s own financial gains

Infrastructure renewal

The chair of the board’s building committee mentioned a 5-year infrastructure renewal plan, with $14 million to be spent per year. He did not share what projects were to be completed and when.

Executive compensation

The provincial cap on public compensation for university presidents and vice-presidents has been removed. Universities need to have a plan in place by 5 September 2017 for how much to increase those executive compensations. Carleton’s board of governors will be looking at how to set these by examining comparators, although it is not obvious who those would be. I will advocate for the president’s and provost’s compensation packages to be tied to how well they do at hiring diverse employees, possibly having their compensation packages tied to the provincial priorities of increasing numbers of women in science and engineering, more Indigenous faculty, and more disabled faculty.

Closing remarks

This blog posting reflects my opinions and reporting of events at the open session of the Carleton Board of Governors. This posting is not meant as a proxy for the official minutes of the meeting. The board’s website no longer contains many supporting documents, including some mentioned herein, even though they were open session documents. If you would like copies, please contact the university secretary, the university archives, or me. And, as always, I welcome your feedback.

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[The following is a re-posting of the announcement of an upcoming protest]

On January 12, 2017, Carleton’s President Roseann Runte sent a letter to students, staff, and faculty complaining about protesters on campus, who she called “noisy persons” that are “contravening the basic principle of a civil society” by “the din” of “what they consider to be their right to freedom of speech.” After a peaceful protest in 2015, the Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors said students’ protest “has no place in a lawful democratic society.” Join with other “noisy persons” to protest a closed-door meeting of the University Board of Governors (BOG) on February 2, 2017 to make sure the voices of students and workers at Carleton are heard.

Sexual Violence Policy
On December 1, 2016, the BOG voted in a draft of the sexual violence policy that did not adequately meet the needs of the student body. Furthermore, workers and TAs were denied the opportunity to speak to the BOG on the policy. Join us on the 2nd of February to let the Board know that more work must be done to ensure the Sexual Violence Policy meets the needs of students and workers. The campaign page is https://www.facebook.com/NotOurPolicy/

Infrastructure Resilience Research Group (IRRG)
Oppose the university’s sponsorship of the Infrastructure Resilience Research Group (IRRG), an on-campus group working with industry and law enforcement to criminalize protest against huge energy and resource development projects. Carleton and the IRRG held a Symposium November 14-15, 2016 under the theme “The Challenges of Dealing with Natural Resource Development Projects and Activism” which brought together “prosecutors, lawyers, regulators, law enforcement, industry and industry association representatives” to coordinate the use of police powers and anti-terrorism legislation against protestors and Indigenous peoples such as in the brutal attacks at Standing Rock, North Dakota against those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline on Indigenous land.

The on-campus closing event of the Symposium on November 15, 2016 was shut down by students, and campus organizations are calling on Carleton University to shut down the IRRG and end its support for criminalizing dissent. Make sure our voices in support of rights are heard at the Board of Governors meeting on February 2, 2017! For more information see: http://www.leveller.ca/2016/11/security-symposium/

Sexual Violence Policy

The Board of Governors approved a new sexual violence policy on 1 December 2016. The version of this policy that was passed (here or see the meeting materials posted online for 1 December 2016) was essentially identical to the draft released by the administration on 6 October 2016, a version that many stakeholders on campus were highly critical of. Provincial law mandated that a sexual violence policy be fully implemented no later than 1 January 2017.

Discussion of the sexual violence policy at the open session of the Board started with the former chair of the Board moving that the Board pass the proposed policy without amendment. Things were then handed-off to the vice-president for students and enrolment, who did little more then hand-off matters to her director of student affairs. This director, who is usually very good, proceeded to drone on for 35-minutes with a monologue that either lacked content or contained content in a Trump-like fashion. One way to suppress discussion is to monopolize all allotted time with a soliloquy.

When discussion of the policy finally did begin amongst all Board members, the Board’s executive was adversarial, as noted in the Ottawa Citizen. The former chair of the Board said that he simply wanted this matter to go away: “I’m interested in getting a policy over and done with.” A student governor asked that interested and knowledgeable stakeholders – the ones that were critical of the 6 October 2016 draft policy – be allowed to express their concerns to the Board, something that had not and was not allowed. The vice-chair of the Board then browbeat that governor so much that the student governor had to leave the room (see here). The vice-chair forcefully said to him, “I have a governance point: If you don’t feel you can speak for graduate students, then why are you here?”

There are two profound ironies to the above quote by the current vice-chair that were directed at the student governor [other than that these two individuals having a history, with the vice-chair previously and unapologetically accusing this student of using “the tactics of Brownshirts and Maosists”]. First, the vice-chair was previously responsible for ruling that internal board members are NOT allowed to represent their constituencies, but instead have to uphold the higher interests of the entire university as part of their fiduciary duties. As former chair of the Board’s Governance Committee, the current vice-chair of the entire Board memorialized the following rule into the Board’s new code of conduct, § II.2, “Act and vote always in the best interest of the University as a whole and not as a representative of any group, stakeholder or particular interest.” Furthermore, on 1 December 2016, another governor protested this exact point – that governors are no longer allowed to represent constituencies – but the current vice-chair’s post-truth about a graduate student governor representing other graduate students was seemingly accepted by all other external governors.

The second profound irony in the vice-chair rejecting the call for stakeholders to address their concerns to the Board was that consultation between stakeholders and those approving the sexual violence policy is required by Ontario Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act. The Board of Governors – not the administration – approved the sexual violence policy and did so without consultation. At least five campus groups formally asked to address the Board on 1 December 2016, and did so in writing long in advance of the 1 December 2016 Board meeting, but all those requests were denied. The Board also did not adequately consult with the university’s own administration. The primary Carleton administrative expertise on sexual violence are individuals in the Equity Services office, especially their Sexual Assault Support Services, and in Health and Counseling Services, but none of those individuals were in the boardroom nor allowed to address the Board on 1 December 2016. Both the consultant on development of Carleton’s sexual violence policy, Joan Riggs, and the university’s equity officer, Karen Green, resigned or were dismissed in spring/summer 2016 because of their involvement in developing this new policy. The only supposed consultation regarding development of the new sexual violence policy was a sham, with two members of the Board of Governors tasked to monitor the proceedings. These two governors were appointed in September 2016, which was too late to monitor most procedural problems. One of these two appointed governors is a University Senate representative on the Board of Governors, so, per collective agreement, is outside of the bargaining unit, giving her very little independence. Her only statement on 1 December was that the comments from the various stakeholders on the 6 October 2016 version of the draft policy were sometimes conflicting. Well, of course they were sometimes conflicting insofar as students sometimes have different interests from staff, who sometimes have different interests from faculty. But these stakeholders still found much common ground. The other appointed governor for this task was the current chair of the Board’s Governance Committee, whose only comments at the 1 December open session – other than what is described in the next paragraph – were that he “was impressed with the degree of consultation and openness of Suzanne [Blanchard’s] staff”, which he managed to say without a hint of sarcasm, and that “the new policy was very well balanced”. What makes his appointment to supposedly independently oversee drafting of the sexual violence policy particularly striking is that the Board’s Governance Committee, which he chairs, absolutely should have had cognizance over approving a new sexual violence policy. But the Governance Committee never seems to have considered the policy. Instead, the Board’s Executive Committee referred the final draft and possibly earlier drafts of the sexual violence policy to its Community Relations Committee, thereby telegraphing that the Board considers sexual violence policy to be a public relations matter, rather than a governance matter.

The current chair of the Governance Committee, acting as one of the two pseudo-independent overseers of the sexual violence policy development process, also made one other statement, a statement that surprised me: He explicitly thanked the three authors of the sexual violence policy by name, Suzanne Blanchard, Jen Sugar, and Steve Levitt. It is good to know exactly who the authors were of this unsigned sexual violence policy. How many stakeholders consulted with all three of these authors and vice versa? What sort of expertise on sexual violence policy do these three authors have? This latter question is especially poignant given the relative lack of consultation and the almost complete lack of change between the 6 October and 1 December drafts of the policy.

The vice-president for students and enrolment even admitted in open session on 1 December that consultation was woefully curtailed by the administration. She voluntarily and proudly declared that “October was feedback month” for the sexual violence policy. Why was only October feedback month? Why did the administration not seek feedback before that, despite the unfortunate losses, without replacement, of Joan Riggs and Karen Green from the process? Why did the administration take no action on the sexual violence policy between when the administration unilaterally cancelled three consecutive meetings on the sexual violence policy in April 2016 until trying a divide-and-conquer pseudo-consultation process in September 2016? Why did the 6 October draft not change in any substantial way from the final approved draft, despite a month of feedback? And, most importantly, why did the Board of Governors never seek feedback or consultation, other than from the three authors of the policy, especially when none of the Board’s governors are experts on sexual violence?

Sexual violence and sex, in general, are largely matters of what constitutes consent. Therefore, we should ask whether the current Board of Governors actually understands consent. The answer appears to be ‘no’. At their 1 December 2016 meeting, the Board of Governors approved a form titled, “Consent to Act as Governor” that is required for every governor to sign, which states, in part, “that I will be deemed to have immediately resigned in any of the following circumstances, [including] if I fail to sign the Code of Conduct annually”. This does not constitute meaningful consent, but is akin to ‘consenting’ to sex with your boss while he is threatening you with loss of your job if you deny his unwanted sexual advances.

Many Carleton students were sufficiently concerned with the lack of consultation, lack of transparency, and particular problems with the draft of the sexual violence policy that they staged a peaceful protest outside of the boardroom on 1 December, a protest that was also attended by a few faculty members. There was also a rally with an overflow crowd two days earlier. The protestors’ chants on 1 December were very much audible from inside the boardroom, but the protestors were not visible because, per recent practice, the board completely draws all the blinds on the boardroom windows, which is on the second floor. Protestors are not allowed in the boardroom nor allowed outside the boardroom door, per instructions of the university president. There were Special Constables (peace officers) stationed at the boardroom door and at each floor by the southernmost stairway and elevator in the River Building. Supposedly the public is allowed in the remainder of that building. But it turns out that was not the case on 1 December. The protestors eventually attempted to enter the building, heading west down the hallway towards Tim Horton’s, which supposedly is public space. Yet, upon entering the building, but still one floor below the boardroom, the director of Carleton’s Department of University Safety physically grabbed at least two of the protestors and shoved them back towards the outdoors. Thus, when the vice-chair of the Board was verbally badgering the concerned student governor in the boardroom, the chief of Carleton’s law enforcement division was physically badgering concerned students one floor below.

At a minimum, what the students both inside and outside the boardroom and other protestors wanted was for the university to incorporate the following details into the sexual violence policy (here). First, for those filing complaints about sexual violence, provide amnesty from prosecution regarding illegal alcohol or drug consumption. Is it more important to prevent sexual assault or underage drinking, only one of which is consensual? Second, the concerned protestors wanted the blanket gag order removed from the policy that prevented survivors from speaking about their experience. Such conversations are often important for metamorphosing from a victim into a survivor. Third, there was a desire to clarify the extent to which the sexual violence policy could be applied to off-campus events. Fourth, the protestors wanted the policy to preclude the complainant and respondent from being required to appear face-to-face as part of the complaint process. Fifth, the protestors want the policy to be reviewed continually once passed, rather than have to wait three years for review. As one student governor put it, three years is most of a student’s tenure at a university. These all seem like reasonable requests and will soon be considered standard practices at many Ontario universities, but not at Carleton.

The reasons given by the director of student affairs for refusing to concede on the aforementioned five demands seemed specious. For example, in justifying the over-reach of the sexual violence policy to events off-campus, she said that otherwise Carleton could not meet its legal obligations. This echoed the reason given by the vice-president of students and enrolment at senate the previous week, who said that without such off-campus reach of the policy that Carleton could not honour cease-and-desist orders issued by courts for events that occurred off-campus. Does the administration really believe that Carleton must ignore judicial orders unless we have specific policies that say we will honour them? Curiously, one of the faculty governors asked whether Carleton ever asked for or received a legal opinion about the draft sexual violence policy, to which an advisor to the board danced but refused to answer. For another example, the director of student affairs said that removing the gag order prohibiting complainants from speaking, “would cause structural problems that would destroy procedural fairness” of the policy, but would not further elaborate. As a final example, regarding the recommendation to immediately begin reviewing the sexual violence policy, the director of student affairs said that everyone can give feedback, even though she also reiterated her boss’s claim that “October was feedback month”. The director of student affairs and the vice-president of students and enrolment both said that we need to first see how the policy fails before trying to fix it. So much for prevention when it comes to sexual violence. As Harry Blackmun once concluded, “But the signs are evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows.”

Neuroscience and ARSE building

As documented in my 25 November 2016 senate blog, the department of neuroscience is being evicted from its current research and office space so that this building can be resurrected for the faculty of engineering as the Advanced Research in Smart Environments (ARSE) building [innovation is synonymous with research, therefore, to avoid needless redundancy, I removed ‘innovation’ from the name of this building]. Neuroscience is supposed to move into the severely under-funded under-construction health building, which will not be ready for occupancy for at least another year. When I was still on the Board, the cost of the new health building had grown to $54 million, which I thought was still too little for such a high tech building. At the 1 December 2016 Board meeting, the university president stated that the new estimate for completion of the health building will only be $45 million. This financial reallocation, aka downsizing, may make sense because the university is also self-funding the new business school building (~$45 million), self-funding half of the ARSE building (half of $26 million), and has grand plans for a self-funded 1,200-seat concert hall.

In my senate blog, I incorrectly assumed that the emergency meeting of the Board’s Building Committee on 25 November 2016 was to solve this neuroscience eviction debacle. Instead, at the 1 December open session of the Board, we learned that this emergency meeting was instead called because the Building Committee did not like the aesthetics of the architectural plans of the ARSE building. Glad to see the Board has their priorities in order.

On 11 November 2016, the university put out a call for pre-qualification of general contractors for the ARSE building. Bids were due by 1 December 2016.

A governor proposed an emergency motion to either delay construction of the ARSE building until final and satisfactory plans were made for neuroscience or at least meaningfully consult with the stakeholders. This motion was rejected. The university president said that she extensively consulted with her vice-presidents over how best to proceed with neuroscience and the ARSE building and then followed their advice. This implies she did not consult with her deans, department chairs, faculty members, nor students. She seems to have no clue about how disruptive these moving events are for science experiments. The university president also said that the timing was fortuitous, probably referring to the University of Ottawa Hospital’s Smyth Road campus having extra space. One of the neuroscience faculty members in the audience almost lost it when she said mentioned how fortuitous this timing was. However, this was probably topped by the vice-president finance’s principle justification for the ARSE building being that the current Life Science Building that exclusively houses the neuroscience department is “under-utilized” (see the letter from vice-president finance to Board’s Building Committee dated 9 November 2016 in the open session binder for this totally specious justification).

The only reasonable things said about neuroscience were by the dean of science, who discussed the ongoing consultations and negotiations. This coming week he is taking neuroscience faculty to see the University of Ottawa temporary facilities on Smyth Road. After that, he is meeting with neuroscience graduate students. The dean candidly discussed ongoing concerns with the University of Ottawa arrangement, such as possible distance between animal care facilities and wet labs, including necessary lab equipment therein. It may turn out that the temporary animal care facilities at the University of Ottawa Hospital are kilometers apart from neuroscience wet lab facilities. According to the dean, there are a lot of logistical details still to be worked out. An external governor then asked if there was a plan B if the University of Ottawa plan falls through or fails. The vice-president finance said that there is no plan B. Wow.

On a final note related to new buildings, especially in an era when Carleton finances these construction projects by itself, possibly from huge reserve funds, the Board should ask why are we putting so much money into bricks-and-mortar and so little money into people? I am not suggesting that we double the number of people hired, but that maybe we be more creative in who we hire. In the past decade, the number of Instructors (permanent, but who often do no research, at least not in a traditional sense) and Contingent Instructors (non-permanent, but sometimes indefinitely so) has ballooned. Instead, why not hire more tenure-track researchers. Furthermore, virtually all the tenure-track researchers that Carleton hires are at the assistant professor level. Why not hire more senior faculty members, at the associate and full professor levels? This will cost money, but maybe that is possibly better than erecting building with inadequate space that quickly crumble into disrepair, such as the Nesbitt and Loeb Buildings, and now probably the new health building. The only exceptions Carleton regularly makes in hiring senior faculty members is in hiring deans and vice-presidents, who usually don’t end up doing any research.

New “Consent to Act as Governor” form

The newly approved “Consent to Act as Governor” form is perverse in many ways, not just because it shows that external members of the board do not understand consent. First of all, acting like a governor should not include intimidation of student governors, which is becoming a recurring problem with Carleton’s Board, making us look more and more like the board at Memorial University. Second and very strangely, on 1 December, members of the Board’s Executive Committee could not agree why this form was created. One governor said it was primarily to allow for electronic communication. Another governor said it was primarily to remove internal governors from the Board if they left the university. Another governor said it was primarily to use photos of governors in public relations. Another governor said the primary purpose was to insure vigourous debate at board meeting (laughable, but I will let that slide). Another governor wondered why even have this consent form because it seems redundant. Again, these comment were all from members of the Executive Committee, yet the form was approved by the full Board.

Even more insidious, the advisor to the Board, who admitted to drafting the form, stated that this new consent form must be signed after a governor is nominated but before the governor starts serving. Yet nothing that was passed specifies that signing this consent form is mandatory. It seems that the advisor to the board unilaterally made this a requirement. Furthermore, such a requirement would have to be made via a change in the bylaws. But this was not done. Yet again, it looks like the executive of Carleton’s Board of Governors is making up and changing rules as it goes along, dangerously conflating the “rule of law” with “rule by law” (here and here).

Executive Committee minutes

In early 2016, the Board passed Appendix A to its new (and improperly passed) bylaws. Appendix A provides a presumption that all Board documents will be public and open, unless specific reasons are provided to render them confidential or closed documents. This should apply to all Executive Committee minutes, which provide the most important decisions of the Carleton Board of Governors. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the Board continues to violate its own rules by refusing to release even portions of the minutes of their Executive Committee minutes. Once again, the binder of open documents does not include Executive Committee minutes, but the closed session agenda does.

Recording of open sessions

At the start of the meeting, for the second consecutive meeting, the chair announced that the meeting was being recorded, not just live streamed, but that this was just for verification purposes. Per Appendix A of the bylaws, such a recording is an open public document and should be released to the public and properly archived. But instead the Board keeps such recordings secret.

Closing Remarks

This blog posting reflects my opinions and reporting of events at the open session of the Carleton Board of Governors. This posting is not meant as a proxy for the official minutes of the meeting. Please note that I did not attend the entire open session on 1 December, needing to excuse myself twice for short durations, so may have missed items. But I did attend the Board’s entire discussion of the sexual violence policy. As always, I welcome your feedback.

An open letter to the Carleton University Board of Governors regarding the proposed new Sexual Violence Policy:

On 1 December 2016, Carleton’s Board of Governors will vote on whether to approve a sexual violence policy that the administration has been drafting. The province mandates that such a policy be implemented by 1 January 2017, so the board’s feet are being held to the fire by the administration with this very late submission. There has been a modicum of consultation with stakeholders on campus, albeit in a divide-and-conquer fashion. A description of the latest draft of this important new policy, dated 15 November 2016, is a contentious document, with many members of the campus community still having serious concerns.

As things currently stand, on 1 December 2016, the administration will present the board with the new sexual violence policy, but no other members of the campus community have been invited to present their concerns and suggestions about how to improve this policy. I therefore strongly encourage the board to invite interested stakeholders to present their concerns and suggestions. At a minimum, the board should invite the following groups to present on the sexual violence policy at the 1 December 2016 open session:
– Carleton University Student Association (CUSA)
– Graduate Student Association (GSA)
– CUPE 4600
– CUPE 2424
– Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA)
This will allow the board to genuinely make a balanced decision as to whether to approve or modify this important sexual violence policy.

Given the extraordinary interest and relevance to the roughly 30,000 people on campus who will be affected by the new sexual violence policy, it also behooves the board to allow the campus community to watch the 1 December 2016 debate in-person. To this end, I strongly recommend that the 1 December open session be moved to a larger venue. The existing boardroom only has space for between three and eight audience members. Therefore, move the open session to some place like Porter Hall, a large room in Residence Commons, or the large open space on the second floor of the River Building by the living green wall.

This letter simply reflects my own personal beliefs and is not written on behalf of anybody but myself. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
Root Gorelick

Immediately after the end of today’s Board of Governor’s meeting, i.e. less than an hour after the board meeting ended, the chair of the board sent an en masse e-mail stating that, “all faculty and staff will receive a meeting summary after each Board meeting.” However, what was sent was not a summary of the meeting, but rather a pre-written and pre-authorized statement about what the administration and board’s executive hoped would come out of the meeting. There was not enough time to write a summary, let alone have it approved, after the board meeting ended. The document that was sent thus sounds more like public relations than a summary. Indeed, a genuine summary of the 27 September 2016 open session would have contained items such as:

  • The board was asked to approve Audited Financial Statements that board members did not have time to read – the statements were only distributed to board members an hour before the meeting;
  • Deb Matthews, the Ontario Minister for Advanced Education, will probably require that all universities submit new Strategic Mandate Agreements this fall that include all new programs that universities wish to offer over the next several years, even though Carleton’s Senate has never been consulted on this vital academic matter;
  • A request for retraction and apology from a governor who called Carleton students “Brownshirts and Maoists” and who subsequently got promoted to vice-chair of the board despite or maybe even because of this brazen remark;
  • Lack of meaningful input from students into the provincially mandated but still undrafted Sexual Violence Policy;
  • Board meetings will now be recorded in audio, albeit without any promise to release such audio recording to the public and without any promise to preserve these important public records.

Although I am highly critical of the prescient so-called summary released by the board, the board chair did do something very good by posting on a public website the agenda and consent agenda for today’s open session, including supporting documents. Kudos.

Ambience

This was my first board meeting as an audience member. I had to request a seat in the boardroom a week in advance, although was only told on the day of the meeting that I had been allotted a reserved seat. The boardroom ostensibly has eight seats for audience members. However four of those eight seats today were filled by staff reporting to the vice-president finance, and those four individuals left at the end of the open session without having ever said a word. Another of those eight seats was reserved for the dean of engineering. Another seat was reserved for a reporter from the campus newspaper, the Charlatan, which I think is a stellar idea. Ironically when I requested an audience seat for all board open sessions this academic year, the university secretary wrote, “As the number seats available is subject to change based on the agenda, you cannot reserve a seat months in advance.” She also wrote that, “Due to fire and safety restrictions, seating in the room is limited, and is generally reserved on a first-come, first-served basis subject to ensuring diversity of access by members of the community.” What kind of diversity can you have when audience seats are mostly occupied by administrative underlings? The board needs to return to a larger room, such as the senate room in which they met for many years.

The Board of Governors’ executive committee ratified the collective agreement with my faculty association, CUASA. That collective agreement states that, “The [faculty] association shall have the right to have an observer present at open university meetings.” This should include open sessions of the Board of Governors. As the faculty association’s communications officer, it would make sense for me to be that observer at all upcoming board open sessions. Yet the university secretary wrote, “you cannot reserve a seat months in advance”, despite the board’s executive approving a collective agreement that specifies that I can reserve a seat as the CUASA communications officer.

The so-called open session still seemed prison-like. A special constable guarded the boardroom door and had to verify my identity before entering. While this boardroom has beautiful views of the river, with windows on two of the four sides, all the blinds were fully closed so that nobody could look in or out.

The chair of the board announced that audio recordings will now be made of all board meetings. He then said that this is largely to insure accurate taking of minutes. That is a peculiar assertion insofar as meeting minutes are usually and intentionally devoid of controversial items. The chair said that these audio recording will not be made public and possibly not even retained once minutes to the meeting are drafted. While I applaud making audio recordings of public meetings, such as open sessions of the board, it seems absolutely wrong to not release or to intentionally destroy such important public archival records. It is far too contentious destroying or hiding recordings. For instance, consider the case of José Rodriguez.

The new chair of the board did a fabulous job following proper parliamentary procedure, thereby remedying many of my complaints in previous blog postings. Kudos, although this does not fix the myriad due process wrongs of the previous two years.

Dog-and-Pony shows

While the Board of Governors has plenty of really important decisions to make, for some reason the upper administration distracts them from this important work by taking up huge portions of open sessions with silly show-and-tell. This time around, the board had two of these dog-and-pony shows, with the vice-president research having 20 minutes to discuss university rankings and the dean of engineering having 30 minutes to discuss the engineering capstone course.

The discussion of university rankings should have taken no more than five minutes. Many of the rankings are silly. Carleton, as well as most (all?) other Canadian universities, has recently done worse in rankings of universities world-wide because Asian universities are now ascending the rankings. Our rankings will be further diminished because a large component of the rankings are “international orientation”, which means numbers of international students, international faculty, and international collaborators. Many potential international students and faculty members may now opt for schools in Asia, which until recently had not been an attractive option.

One item that was noteworthy in this presentation was the vice-president research stating that a viable option for improving our ranking may be to recruit senior faculty members. This would be a major shift for Carleton, who almost exclusively recruits assistant professors, not faculty of higher rank, other than for administrative posts.

I have no idea why the dean of engineering was asked to waste a half-hour of everybody’s time to talk about their capstone course, something which does not really affect university policy, but is a mandatory requirement for accreditation. In fact, I felt sorry for the dean being given such an unenviable task. He did the best he could, but this is really boring material. The only highlight was a slide that he showed about a sustainable urban development on Albert Island. The dean briefly said this project included community involvement. What he failed to mention was that this is a hugely contentious project to develop Chaudière Falls (Akikodjiwan) with the so-called ‘Zibi’ development by Windmill Developers, which is development on sacred Algonquin territory. The dean may have been prudent to not emphasize the highly contentious nature of this project, but it is surprising that Carleton is involved at all, possibly giving the impression that the university is complicit in this development. I no longer know the background of all external board members, but wonder whether any of them have involvement with this contentious real estate development, although nobody declared a conflict of interest.

Audited Financial Statements

The audited financial statements were distributed to governors an hour before the open session. Yet, despite protests from some governors, the board still voted to approve this document without having time to read it. The advisor to the board claimed this was an inadvertent error and that the board’s executive committee at least had a few weeks to examine the full document, which should be good enough. I have no idea how that constitutes due diligence, especially when the university has a brand new vice-president finance. Why have full board meeting if they act as rubber-stamps of executive committee decisions? I guess the answer to that rhetorical question is that there are no internal governors (students, staff, faculty) on the executive committee and that executive committee minutes are still considered confidential despite the recently passed Appendix A to the bylaws, which seem to specify that executive committee minutes are presumptively public documents. The audited financial statements are probably fine (and can be downloaded from the board’s public website). The problem was instead with process, with the board seeming to once again violate its new vaunted bylaws and code of conduct, i.e. many governors were effectively compelled to abrogate their fiduciary duty by voting for something that they could not read.

Ontario university presidents met with Minister of Advanced Education & Skills Development

Last week, Ontario university presidents met with the Minister of Advanced Education & Skills Development, Deb Matthews. Carleton’s president conveyed to the board her reading of the tea-leaves from that meeting. Our president anticipates a new funding formula soon, which will be contingent on both provincial metrics and each university’s own boutique metrics. The provincial metrics will probably include graduation rates and an envelope for enrollment. Demographic data in Ontario shows that the number of 18-year-olds will bottom-out in 2020, finally starting to slowly increase in 2021 (data here). Therefore it makes little sense to have funding dependent on enrolment growth, rather than an enrolment envelope, which was referred to as an “enrolment corridor”. The board chair stated that the change to the funding formula will occur in the next fiscal year.

The blockbuster news was the board chair stating (and the university president concurring) that drafts of new Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA) will almost certainly be due this fall. The president said that any new programs that universities hope to start in the next several years will need to be in the SMA, otherwise the province will not approve them. New academic programs are the purview of our university Senate. Yet, not only has Senate not yet been consulted about such matters, but ironically this week’s Senate meeting was cancelled for lack of anything to discuss! This basically means that the upper administration is again trying to foreclose Senate from having any role in deciding the academic future of Carleton, merely looking for Senate to rubber-stamp a draft SMA at the last second. In my humble opinion, the full Senate (not just a committee) needs to convene a very thorough discussion about what should be in a new SMA and should deliberate on this at two or more successive open sessions. Does anybody want to call a special session of Senate to discuss a new SMA?

According to the university president, the Minister of Advanced Education talked ad nauseum about experiential learning. Therefore expect a lot more impetus for things like co-op programs and capstone programs. While this sounds too much like commodification of post-secondary education to me, it may be reality in Ontario

The Minister also broached that she will impose more collaboration between colleges and universities. Mandating something does not make it collaborative, except in the most Orwellian sense. Regardless, expect more vertical integration between colleges and universities.

Enrolments

With the current provincial funding formula and our self-imposed Enrolment Based Allocation (ELBA) formula, funding is still very much dependent on increased enrolments. Final tabulations of enrolment are based on head counts on 1 November, but forecasts are relatively robust based on end of September numbers. Overall, Carleton is doing well, with almost a 2% increase in new first-year enrolments in undergraduate programs. Most of this increase is due to science and engineering. Our public affairs and arts & social sciences (FPA and FASS) enrolments are holding steady, which is still pretty good given the decreasing numbers of high school graduates. However, our undergraduate business enrolments dropped 7% this year, which makes arguments for a new business building precarious. That said, I do not necessarily advocate making decisions on capital investments dependent on income. With that logic, we would never have built a new health building or even contemplate building a new concert hall.

Sexual Violence Policy

The university had been pursuing a new sexual violence policy as a community during the 2015/2016 academic year, along with a facilitator. That process devolved, with the administration not showing up for several successive meetings and the facilitator eventually quitting in spring 2016. During summer 2016, the university administration opted to go it alone in drafting this provincially mandated policy. In September 2016, the administration consulted with individual stakeholders, but never engaged in collective discussions with the entire community. The administration’s new tack was more divide-and-conquer. A draft of the resulting policy will be distributed to the university community and posted on a public website during the first week of October.

A final draft of the sexual violence policy will be submitted to the Board of Governors for their 1 December 2016 meeting. This is the last possible meeting for board approval before the provincial deadline, leaving governors in a bit of quandary on 1 December 2016. If they reject the draft sexual violence policy, then Carleton will be defying provincial directive. Therefore the board’s hands will be tied to approving almost any document handed to them.

Today, one governor lamented that students will be foreclosed from meaningful consultation in drafting the sexual violence policy. The vice-president students & enrolment replied that students will have a say via their representatives on the Board of Governors, who can adequately represent their constituencies. The problem is that the new rules recently foisted on the board stipulate that governors are expressly forbidden from acting as representatives of the constituencies that originally selected them. After a short exchange about this important bureaucratic disenfranchisement issue, the university president half-jokingly said, “On that note, let’s move on,” which is exactly what the board did.

Question Period and Regulatory Capture

A governor posed a question for question period about what actions the board has or will take regarding the three recent unprecedented no confidence motions against the board and university. The question was asked of the board, not of the administration. Yet the question was answered by the university president, not the board’s chair nor vice-chair nor any other board committee chair. This is a clear sign of regulatory capture of the board by the university president.

Compounding this problem, the president answered that nothing needed to be done regarding the no confidence motions. This was an abbreviated version of her answer from an earlier board meeting, in which she said that the no confidence motions were regarding the new code of conduct and bylaws, which had been passed by a large majority, hence meant that the board considered there to be no problems. However, on 27 September 2016, the president added that, “the board will improve communications, engagement, and transparency.” Promulgation of a summary of open sessions written before open sessions have actually occurred should not constitute improved communications. Effectively shutting out students from consultation on a new sexual violence policy should not constitute improved engagement. Continual posting of special constables at the boardroom door and filling audience seats with administrative underlings should not constitute improved transparency.

“Brownshirts and Maoists”

A governor broached that the former chair of the board’s governance committee, who is now the board vice-chair and current clerk of the privy council, had previously and unapologetically called several Carleton students “Brownshirts and Maoists”. One of those aggrieved students is now a governor on Carleton’s board and was present at the open session today. A motion was put forward asking that the “Brownshirts and Maoists” pejorative be retracted and that the individual apologize to the students. Part of the rationale given for this motion was that another individual had been disciplined by the university for supposedly making almost identical defamatory remarks, but that the person who first used the phrase “Brownshirts and Maoists” had not only been exempt from discipline, but had been promoted to vice-chair of the board.

To the credit of the current chair of the board, the motion was allowed to be brought forward in open session, was seconded, debate was allowed – but nobody said a word during that debate period – and a vote was taken. The vote was two in favour, a majority opposed, and five abstentions.

What was striking is that the person who first used the phrase “Brownshirts and Maoists” sat silent throughout these proceedings, even though they could have easily offered an apology. All members of the board’s executive committee voted against the motion, possibly making them complicit in this degradation of the affected students, students they are supposed to watch after.

Closing Remarks

This post only reflects my opinions and reporting of what occurred at the open session of the board. I hope to keep up this tradition of reporting, at least if the board allows me to continue attending so-called open sessions. And, as always, I truly welcome your comments and feedback.

Security Checkpoints

While the open session of Carleton University’s Board of Governors on 28 June 2016 was still authoritarian sensu Bob Altemeyer, as it has been for over a year now, at least one thing drastically improved, for which I thank the university president and outgoing board chair. The multiple security checkpoints in the building near the boardroom were gone. The barricade on the street by the Gandhi statue was gone. The boardroom blinds were half open. There was just a single special constable seated by the boardroom door, who was not even checking names [correction posted on 7 July 2016: the special constable did have a list of those invited and was checking names of guests on 28 June 2016]. I genuinely hope this means that open sessions of the board will be freely open to the public in the future, without the onerous requirement for preclearance of observers. Kudos.

Master Plan and Buildings

The university’s new master plan shows some interesting things. The parking garages over the O-Train are only scheduled to quadruple in size, which is a bit better than being sextuple the size of the existing garage at that locale, as previously planned. There are also plans for replacing the existing at-grade parking lot P3 between the hockey rink, CTTC, and NWRC with a stacked garage. In concert with a new P3 parking garage, the master plan shows Carleton re-opening Raven Road to Bronson Avenue to encourage car culture, especially rapid escapes from the university. The master plan shows a future pedestrian bridge over the Rideau River between Carleton and Vincent Massey Park. But this may only go in when the O-Train bridge is rebuilt. Given that rail bridge repairs were done there just a few years ago, I don’t expect a pedestrian bridge anytime soon. The master plan shows Patterson Hall being torn down. Therefore I asked what will happen to the Aboriginal Student Centre, Ojigkwanong, designed by Douglas Cardinal. The director of facilities maintenance said that the building will be taken down and then rebuilt in stages, leaving Ojigkwanong intact. Therefore, this lovely and valuable space will be preserved, albeit possibly not accessible for a year or two. The board seems to have decided that the new business building that we are self-financing will go just north of the new health building. The north part of campus, north of Sunnyside/University Avenue, is planned to be developed into a new academic quad, but 25-50 years from now. Someone asked about how climate change would affect storm water drainage on campus. There really was no answer. I suspect that was because we have no idea about projected precipitation. The incoming vice chair of the board asked how do we prioritize the pipe dreams on the master plan, to which the answer was “nothing is prescriptive”.

Universities are all waiting to hear about new infrastructure monies from the government. Carleton put in a bid to rebuild our existing Life Sciences Building. I asked why, given that most of the residents of that building are slated to move into the brand new health building in a year. Apparently one floor of the rebuilt Life Science building will be for “clean tech”, another floor for an industrial partnership with Ericsson on 5G networks, and another floor for human-based health and neuroscience that do not need to be in the new health building.

Academic Programs

The board approved the name change of the School of Canadian Studies to the School of Canadian and Indigenous Studies. This is an important change.

The provost put on one of his long-winded dog-and-pony shows, but at least eventually deferred to two of his more succinct deans to highlight some programs. The dean of arts and social sciences said some nice things about the undergraduate program in “global and international studies”, which must rank as one of the most redundant names of any program at Carleton. The dean of science spoke about our highly commodified new data science program and about our new health science program. I truly appreciated his candour about the latter, stating that, “Health sciences is finally getting traction in its third year”, i.e. starting to come close to its enrollment targets, but lamenting how still everyone signs up for the pre-med concentration of biomedical health, whereas nobody signs up for community health or environmental health. Why is the board’s time wasted hearing good news about boutique programs? Why doesn’t the board hear about typical programs or maybe hear nothing at all about academic programs? Aren’t deep dives into academic programs the purview of senate, not the board?

Public Relations

The university president stated that there have been no complaints about the giant posters with portraits of disembodied heads of people associated with Carleton. Allow me to remedy that. These posters, some of which are enormous, with people’s faces blown up to about 6 foot across, are the antithesis of what makes universities great. Universities are about dialogue and interaction. Yet these giant two-dimensional faces just stare blankly into space, looking down from the skies like gods, conveying no information, imparting no knowledge, and giving nothing back but propaganda. While this may be appropriate for the current state of Carleton governance and leadership, I personally want much more and our students and faculty deserve much more. While Carleton is supposed to be non-religious, despite our affiliation with Dominican College, at least this campaign with overhead disembodied god-like heads looks like we are espousing polytheism. Why have we eschewed substance for style; intellectual verve for Madison Avenue? Carleton’s Campus now looks like Tom Tomorrow’s cartoons in Sheldon and Rampton’s classic “Toxic Sludge is Good for You” or the streets of Pyongyang with Kim Jong-un’s face plastered on every wall.

At question period, I asked, “Will this board continue contracting KPMG for audit services after recent controversies regarding its tax avoidance schemes (offshore and divorce related) and gag orders against witnesses testifying before the House of Commons?” The university president tersely replied that, “KPMG is reputable, so we will continue to hire them.” The term ‘reputable’ means having a good reputation and being honourable. It is hard to have confidence in someone that publicly implies that defrauding the Canada Revenue Agency and silencing speech counts as being honourable, with a good reputation.

Governance

I requested the following items be added to the open session agenda at the 28 June 2016 board meeting: (1) my eligibility to serve a second term as a governor, (2) discussion of a sexual violence policy, and (3) the no confidence resolutions from early April 2016. The board chair denied all three requests, but promised they would be covered in closed session later in the evening. I requested that this promise be included in the open session minutes, which the chair agreed to. But I still do not understand why these matters could not be discussed in open session, other than that inaction on the latter two matters might embarrass the university and board.

The governance committee chair reported that the governance committee recently met, but decided not to push anything forward for now because they had accomplished enough with the new code of conduct and bylaws. My suspicion is that the board is hoping to once again push through a bylaw change to exclude union officers from serving as internal board members.

At question period, I asked, “During the first half of 2016, ‘Candidate Selection Handbooks’ and ‘Expression of Interest’ forms were created for academic staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students for elections to the board of governors. Who created and approved these handbooks and forms, and on what dates were they approved?” These documents did not exist when I ran for a board seat three years ago. The university secretary answered that the handbooks had been updated several years ago and that no approval of them was needed. Neither the university secretary nor anyone else answered about the Expression of Interest forms. The Expression of Interest forms made many requirements of potential governors that were not mandated and some that were mandated by the new bylaws that did not apply to the recent elections. This again indicates lack of due process and lack of accountability, when rules for campaigning and election can be created by fiat, especially when nobody is willing to answer when and by whom the pernicious Expression of Interest form was approved.

The board would not allow me to run for a second three-year term because I would not sign the heinous code of conduct that contravenes my collective agreement. This is ironic in that the governance committee chair that unapologetically referred to Carleton students as “Brownshirts and Maoists” was not only appointed to another term on the board, but was promoted to vice chair of the board, to be elevated to chair of the board on 1 July 2018. I guess that is the way to garner recognition and prove leadership prowess at Carleton

Closing remarks

My ineligibility for another term as governor representing faculty, instructors, and librarians means that this is my final reporting of Carleton University’s Board of Governors’ open sessions as a board member. It has been a fascinating three years, albeit time to move forward. While this blog may or may not continue, I hope to continue serving the Carleton community as the incoming communications officer for the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA). So, while the venue for communication may change, I will do my best to keep you informed of all the good and bad – progress and regress – of this university. Thank you for your support and feedback!

When the men’s-only football team was reincarnated at Carleton University a few years ago, the university community was promised that it would be entirely funded externally, without a dime of university monies. The Carleton press release of 15 August 2013 stated, “The team will be fully funded by Old Crows Football.” That promise was recently broken when the vice president finance secretly injected a half-million dollars of internal funds into football for the upcoming season.

On 21 June 2016 I submitted a question for the board’s open session question period regarding this matter. To my surprise, the chair of the board read my question verbatim in open session, even though it contained information from the minutes of the board’s executive committee meeting of 14 April 2016, suggesting once again that executive committee documents should be open to the public. I had expected the chair to at least paraphrase my query so that he would not be leaking information that was supposedly confidential. My question, that the chair of the board read aloud, was:

On 14 April 2016, the executive committee approved a half-million dollars from our ancillary budget to cover men’s-only football. Will this large new expense be discussed at the open session of the board on 28 June 2016, i.e. placed on the open session agenda, especially since the Carleton community was promised that football would be solely supported via external funding and the ancillary budget is an open session item?

Not only was the earlier promise of no internal funds for football abrogated, but the university and board tried to hide this information. Less than a month before the half-million dollars was shunted to football, the full board in open session passed the 2016/2017 ancillary budget on 21 March 2016, but that ancillary budget contained no internal monies for football. Twelve days after the board’s executive committee tacitly approved the half-million dollars of internal funding for football, the full board met in open session on 26 April 2016, but not a word was mentioned about this football expense. The only place I had ever seen this half-million dollar expense for football was buried in the executive committee minutes of 14 April 2016 that was recently distributed to board members.

At the 28 June 2016 open session of the full board, in response to the question at question period, the vice president finance said that he personally approved the half-million dollars from capital funds for football and that this was for information only, i.e. the board did not need to approve this expense. My jaw dropped, but nobody else said a word. How is this not a conflict of interest when Carleton’s vice president finance is a board member on Old Crow Football? Why have an ancillary budget and why have the board approve it if the administration can simply change it days later, at will, without meaningfully consulting the board or the community?

Half-million dollars is not a trivial sum. It could go to many good causes. It could be used to offset tuition increases or used for scholarships. Ironically, on the day before I first learned about this outrageous (no longer) secret expenditure, I blogged about how university football throughout North America is almost always a huge financial loser. Apparently that is still true at Carleton. Financial burdens were why Carleton scrapped the football team in the 1990s (here). I wonder how much more of our university budget will get diverted to a sexist and violent activity like football in subsequent years…and whether the university community will even hear about this.

This debacle provides another example why the Carleton community has lost confidence in the university president, vice president finance, chair of the board, and chair of the board’s governance committee. In my opinion, these individuals should stand down from all administrative duties at Carleton, including serving on its board, until they have successfully addressed the specific non-confidence complaints and then regained the confidence of Carleton’s faculty, staff, and graduate students.

This post only reflects my opinions and reporting of what occurred at open sessions of the board. I do not report on anything gleaned from closed sessions. I welcome your comments and feedback.