Answers for other Paul

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cartoonPaul Bogdan answers Paul McLellan’s questions about the University Council meeting

Meetings are confusing. People open their mouths, and words seemingly fly from them as if they’re saying something or trying to communicate. At least, this is what U of R Board of Governors Chair Paul McLellan seemingly decided to share with the Leader Post last week.

Anyway, I guess I’m also “a little confused” as to what this senior administrator could be “a little confused about.” And, since asking an endless set of rhetorical questions is apparently Paul McLellan’s modus operandi, to enjoin his understanding of student and faculty frustration I’ll answer your set of questions, other Paul, with another set of questions.

Were you conscious during the meeting? If yes, did you actually listen? Are you always this confused? Is this how you behave in Board of Governors meetings? Also, why are you so scared to let the public into those meetings? Do you know that getting information via meeting minutes is a crock of horse shit and in no way feasible or transparent? Do you know that many other universities have open sessions in their Board of Governors meetings? Are you aware that those universities are still functioning and that likewise this university won’t come to a grinding halt if the public is allowed to attend those meetings?

Okay, that last question might be a stretch.

It might be a stretch because if the public is let in to those meetings, perhaps they would see gross incompetency coming from those who make the biggest decisions at this institution. But, we don’t know because we’re not allowed in.

It’s great that there’s visible momentum from the faculty and students against the state this university is currently in and likely will continue heading toward, but all of this is for naught without accountability and transparency from the Board of Governors. The Board is the group who makes the actual decisions on this campus.

By no means am I trying to undermine the hard work and success that came from the University Council meeting that Paul McLellan was so confused about, but all of the motions (save the final motion that didn’t pass) state “Council recommends to the President” or some variation of that phrase. The President will likely take these recommendations seriously and propose them to the Board of Governors (as she should), but ultimately the Board of Governors has the final say as to whether these recommendations are followed. They can shoot down any recommendations Dr. Timmons brings to them from University Council, and the Board is required to give absolutely no justification for doing so. Board minutes say whether a motion carries or fails with no record of who votes in favour or against a motion and no justification in either case.

Not only is this intrinsically problematic for a publicly-funded institution (or any institution that strives to attain one fucking speck of actual transparency), but this further becomes an issue on a democratic level given that five of the 11 members are government appointed positions. Moreover, if the government is giving these people positions on the Board of Governors, why would they actively work to put serious pressure on the government to properly fund this university?

But the fact of the matter is I could be very wrong. Maybe Pam Klein or Lee Elliott are vocal in their meetings about hard-pressing the Sask. Party to give the U of R the funds it needs. I could be horrendously wrong, but I can’t know either way because I’m still locked out of the meetings because the Board of Governors apparently can’t be as honest in its discourse when people are watching. I guess letting shit flow from an orifice is hard to do when people are watching regardless of which end it’s coming from.

In reality, though, the argument that members won’t be as frank and open in discussing motions is even more bullshit than Paul McLellan can possibly spew into a few hundred words of Post Media pullquotes and paraphrases. You’re an adult. If you can’t honestly put your name to a decision you have to make, maybe you need to reconsider that decision. If I want to write something inflammatory in print, the byline is neither anonymous nor a pseudonym – it’s my name. I suffer the consequences of what I write. The Carillon doesn’t allow articles to go to print without the author’s name next to it, and other publications follow this as well.

Any claim the administration makes of accountability or transparency is in bad faith if the Board members refuse to be transparent in their decision making. Prove the transparency of this university and open the doors. Saying this university displays transparency while we still don’t have a legitimate budget made public or open Board of Governor’s sessions is sort of like gutting arts and fine arts programs and then writing in to the Leader Post about how “the arts are a key part of our province’s identity.” Yeah, right.

Paul Bogdan
A&C Editor

Photo by Taouba Khelifa

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