UBC-V student governors took to twitter November 30th to call out #UBCBoG's lack of transparency. December 5th's full meeting of the board has a mere one hour of public discussion.
Over the past three years the current board has winnowed down public meetings from a day and a half to one hour. They have shifted much of the decision making into committee of the board, which are restricted to small subsets of the full board and few of those decisions make it on the floor of the whole board for discussion.
|Link to full thread.|
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Not since the Board forced a university president to resign has it hid behind closed door in camera meetings so extensively. That moment resulted in a faculty vote of non-confidence in the Board of Governors. The closed door actions of the board motivated me to run for election to the board in 2016. Over the 2017-2020 term the board had it's own little Prague Spring and more issues ended up in open meetings, more discussion was held, and the administration faced closer scrutiny for its decisions. But it didn't last.
Under the technocratic guises of efficiency the current board leadership has essentially removed the possibility of public scrutiny from the boards' own actions and, consequently, from the actions of the university administration. But it goes beyond that. They have also used an expansive definition of conflict of interest to exclude faculty and student governors from key committees and important decisions.
UBC is a public institution. As such it has obligations to the people of British Columbia that differ from typical Non-government organizations or private corporations. An environmental or civil society NGO is only beholden to its board and funders. A private corporation to its shareholders. But a public university has an obligation far more profound, it needs to be responsible to the entire province. It is not sufficient that unelected government appointees are informed. That is not sufficient to carry out the duty to the people of BC.
UBC's Board of Governors needs to take UBC's own publicity materials to heart, be bold, be innovative, be open.
|Read UBC's guide on writing boldly at this link.|
Our Board of Governors needs to reestablish open, transparent, and democratic practice that serve the best interests of the university. That is not achieved by locking themselves behind closed doors. Governors are there becuase it is presumed they have something important to say. That they bring a particular expertise, knowledge. or life experience to the table. To sit quietly behind closed doors seems unbefitting of a research university that is supposed to lead boldly.