CUASA Unanimously Passes Motion of Non-Confidence in Board of Governors and Senior Administration
In a unanimous vote in the April 11 General Membership meeting, CUASA adopted a motion of non-confidence in the Board of Governors and senior administrative staff. The motion comes after nine months of continued conflict between the Board and a coalition of campus unions, who represent faculty, librarians, contract instructors, students, and staff. The conflict hinges on the Board’s implementation of policies that violate basic principles of transparency, accountability, and conflict of interest appropriate to the governance of a public institution. Among these policies is the requirement that all Board members abide by a Code of Conduct, which imposes a lifetime gag order on all governors, preventing them from communicating meaningfully with the constituencies that elected them – both before and after their election! This gag order was at the center of the controversy surrounding our colleague Root Gorelick, whose refusal to sign the statement exposed him to the threat of removal from the Board.
Despite an outpouring of criticism over its treatment of Dr. Gorelick – by journalists, individual academics both at Carleton and across the country, and by the Canadian Association of University Teachers — the Board opted to double down on its opposition to basic practices of good governance, rather than to address the community’s concerns. In its recent review of its Bylaws, the Board showed little evidence of listening seriously to any of the concrete proposals submitted in good faith by CUASA and other campus groups. Instead, it took steps to entrench and formalize practices that further concentrate power in the Executive Committee, restrict the contributions of elected Board members, and stifle communication between the Board and the larger community. Moreover, the Board made no effort to remedy longstanding and well-founded concerns about the handling of conflicts of interest on the Board.
CUASA interprets the Board’s decision to adopt these Bylaws as an expression of its continued commitment to secrecy and the concentration of power, at the expense of principles of transparency, accountability, and due process. These principles are fundamental not only to meaningful collegial governance, but to Carleton’s mission as a public institution of higher education. These Bylaws, as well as the events of the last nine months, have shaken CUASA’s confidence that our Board indeed serves the best interests of our university.
The following motion was passed at the CUASA Annual General Meeting on April 11th, 2016:
Motion of Non-Confidence in the Carleton University Board of Governors and Senior Administration
Whereas on March 21, 2016, the Board of Governors approved new Bylaw changes that close the Board off from the Carleton community by increasing secrecy and centralizing power; and
Whereas the Board disregarded the many recommendations designed to enhance the Board’s openness and transparency that were put forward by Carleton’s unions and student associations groups including CUASA; and
Whereas the new Bylaws codify the Board’s recently introduced Code of Conduct that prevents elected representatives from meaningfully engaging with the campus community – even during election campaigns; and
Whereas the Board has excluded the public from attending the Board’s open session in person, except for a small number of vetted individuals, and has changed its Bylaws such that all meetings of Board committees are in camera (secret and confidential); and
Whereas the Board and senior administration has refused to respond to the concerns of the Carleton community, and instead have taken further action to close themselves off from students and workers on campus; and
Whereas it can be concluded that the Board and senior administration do not have the best interests of the Carleton University community or the public good at heart, but are deeply committed to undemocratic and exclusionary forms of governance at the expense of academic freedom and collegial governance; and
Whereas students and workers are left with no meaningful participation in university governance, raising the question of whether the Board can be trusted to make important decisions about the operations and future of our institution; therefore
Be it resolved that the membership of the Carleton University Academic Staff Association express its lack of confidence in the Carleton University Board of Governors and in the senior administration of Carleton University, including Dr. Roseann O’Reilly Runte (President & Vice-Chancellor), Duncan Watt (Vice President Finance and Administration), Tony Tattersfield (Chair of the Board of Governors), and Michael Wernick (Chair of the Board’s Governance Committee).