As the first month of the academic year falls from the calendar, a disturbing trend seems to be taking hold in the various administrative levels of Concordia. No one seems to be willing to let us, the public, in on their meetings. The most recent “closed-door” meeting took place this past Tuesday as the board of governors barred the public for a period of time. But the board is in good company; the CSU and ASFA has also used the tactic at counsel meetings held this past month.
While closed-door meetings can serve some good in protecting the privacy of applicants, they do more to hinder and harm the democratic process at this university. No longer are counsel members held accountable for how they vote and any semblance of transparency vanishes behind a thick wood-panelled door.
Accountability is one of the most valued attributes that a politician can have. By holding a closed-door meeting, members of the counsel and board are no longer weighed down by the responsibility of voting. Votes can be cast and manipulated without any fear of consequence since the public will never have any idea that they’ve been wronged. It’s the openness of general meetings that keeps the public in the know. By holding a closed-door meeting, the counsels and board are denying the public a right to keep our representatives responsible for our better interest.
Transparency is a vital cog in the clockwork of democracy; without it democracy would sputter to a stop and stall. It’s through transparency that we learn why votes were cast the way they were and if there is any reason they were not cast at all. Money is often at play when it comes to votes. If there are any objections, they should come to the surface. It is, after all, money most often collected from students up for vote. Closed-door meetings only hide a vote from the public and offer little chance to grip onto what was once ours after it’s gone.
The public should always be critical of the use of closed-door meetings, whether there are legitimate reasons for calling one or if it is simply an abuse of the privilege. It’s too easy to call a closed-door meeting and leave any shred of accountability or transparency waiting on the other side of the door.
The counsels and board should never be comfortable calling a closed-door meeting if they are truly acting in the spirit of democracy and they should always give a valid reason for barring the public. Until then, there will always be a faint whiff of something not quite right seeping in from under the door.