Home News BoG cancellation reason ‘vague’: student reps

BoG cancellation reason ‘vague’: student reps

by The Concordian October 18, 2011
The cancellation of this Wednesday’s Board of Governors meeting has student representatives searching for a concrete reason, while the administration has remained vague about the decision.

An Oct. 7 email sent to all governors by Danielle Tessier, director of board and senate administration, indicated that the Oct. 20 meeting had been cancelled “due to potential quorum issues.”

The news of the cancellation was only officially communicated to the wider campus community in an Oct. 12 email from Tessier’s assistant Evelyne Loo, who never specified the reason. When asked in a follow-up email from the Concordian, Loo responded that she didn’t know why the meeting had been cancelled, but confirmed that the next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 17 would still be taking place.

According to university spokesperson Chris Mota, quorum for BoG meetings is 21, and the board is required to hold a minimum of five meetings during the academic year. She said that it was not unusual for at least one meeting a year to be cancelled.

Unsatisfied with the administration’s official answer, graduate student governor Erik Chevrier inquired further, and on Monday was told by Tessier that it looked like a number of governors couldn’t attend, though she never specified that number. She also reminded Chevrier that there are currently four vacancies on the BoG.

“I found out that the recommendation was made by her to the chair and the Executive committee to cancel the meeting,” said Chevrier. “I also asked her if it was mostly members of certain constituencies that couldn’t make it, but she said that was not relevant to the question of quorum.”

Concordia Student Union president and undergraduate governor Lex Gill, who sits on the Executive committee, wrote in an email that she was not consulted on the decision to cancel the meeting, but indicated that she had been unable to attend the committee’s most recent meeting.

Chevrier is awaiting his chance to present a motion to the BoG to increase transparency at the university’s highest governing body. The motion calls for, among other things, a question and answer period at the end of each BoG meeting, increased seating in the actual BoG meeting room, and permission for media such as CUTV to broadcast meetings live.

There was no time to discuss the motion at the September board meeting, and now due to the Oct. 20 meeting being cancelled, Chevrier’s motion has been pushed even further down the calendar to November.

Chevrier sent a tweaked version of the motion on Monday to the BoG’s Executive committee in the hopes of having discussion on the updated version added to the November meeting’s agenda. The modified motion was unanimously adopted at the Graduate Students’ Association Oct. 14 council meeting.

The new motion quotes several key passages from the external governance review committee’s report, a document that the Board of Governors has said it is committed to respecting. New items in the motion include calling on the board to follow the EGRC’s recommendation to place closed sessions at the end of the meeting. The closed session was held at the beginning of the Sept. 28 meeting, lasting for about 20 minutes.

The now cancelled Oct. 20 meeting was set to be the first BoG meeting to take place since undergraduate student representation on the board was voted to be decreased from four to one. That particular vote sparked outrage among students during the heated Sept. 28 meeting, where 27 governors voted through a secret ballot in support of diminishing the number of student governors.

Undergraduate governor AJ West wrote in an email on Monday that despite requests made by all four undergraduate representatives, none have yet to receive a clear answer as to why it was seen as reasonable for successive governance committees to recommend shrinking student representation on the BoG.

“Moving forward, we plan to formally request an explanation as to why some factions on the Board were weighed more when choosing the numbers,” he wrote. “We don’t need another lecture about how everyone is losing representation — they’re ignoring the question, which continues to be, ‘Why are we losing proportional representation?’”

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