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GSA looking to up transparency at BoG

by The Concordian October 4, 2011
Graduate students’ representative Erik Chevrier is looking to increase transparency at the Board of Governors, but first he must get his fellow governors to talk about his motion.
At the Sept. 28 BoG meeting, Chevrier proposed that an item be added to the agenda to discuss his resolution calling for, among other things, the television broadcast of Board meetings and a question period from the audience.
The item had originally not been approved to be added to the agenda prior to the meeting, but was added at the meeting itself following a vote by a majority of governors. But because the meeting was adjourned immediately after the vote on governance recommendations, the item has been pushed until the Board reconvenes in October.
“The external governance committee requested that the BoG adopt measures to make the BoG more transparent. Considering that the main argument to restructure the BoG membership (to reduce student seats), was to comply with the external governance requests, I feel that it is also important to apply other requests (make the board more transparent),” wrote Chevrier in an email.
The resolution asks the BoG’s executive committee to approve a question period of no less than 20 minutes at the end of each regular meeting in which members of the campus community can ask questions and offer comments, increased seating in the actual room where the BoG meeting is taking place with a capacity of no less than 40 seats, and permission for CUTV to record meetings and post the video to their website.
Concordia’s VP institutional relations and secretary-general Bram Freedman said this week
that the GSA proposal was discussed at an executive committee meeting prior to the full board meeting and that “all present, with the exception of [CSU president Lex] Gill, who spoke in favour of the resolution, were against placing it on the agenda of the Board meeting. They were concerned that the proposal might inhibit the free exchange of ideas and the level of comfort that Board members might feel.”
Freedman went on say that it was noted at the executive committee meeting that an overflow room already exists where the meetings are broadcast live. To his knowledge, the committee has never entertained in the past any of the ideas from the GSA resolution.
For Chevrier, an overflow room is not enough.
“In an overflow room, people cannot ask the BoG members any questions. They are also removed from the room where important decisions are made,” he said.
The Sept. 28 meeting was held in EV-2.260, where all meetings until June 21 are scheduled to take place. The room itself only holds enough seats for 20 spectators, who must often show up early for the 8 a.m. meeting in order to get the ticket needed for entrance in the room.
As for the idea of CUTV broadcasting meetings, the station’s manager Laura Kneale indicated that CUTV has requested in the past to film BoG meetings, as it does already for CSU council meetings, but that the request has yet to be granted.
“We believe that allowing CUTV to film these meetings would at the very least help increase transparency and accountability at the BoG as well as give Concordia students increased access to their principal governing body decisions in a non-editorialized way,” she wrote in an email.
Kneale said that last year CUTV filed their request with university spokesperson Chris Mota, who referred them to an “administrative procedure.” Kneale said CUTV decided to hold off from pursuing the matter further at the time due to other projects, but is again interested this year in filming the meetings.
Mota explained on Monday that there is in fact no actual procedure in place when it comes to filming BoG meetings.
“It is sort of the accepted procedure, it’s how the Board has evolved,” she said. “There’s nothing in print that says you can’t film, but there’s nothing that says you can either. Ultimately it’s up to the Board.”

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