Sit on it
At 6 a.m., I was cursing my phone alarm loudly. At 6:30, I was the only car on the dark and icy ring road. At 6:50, I strolled confidently into Ad-Hum. At 6:55, I was getting worried – save for the lone camera operator representing Global, there was a grand total of three of us outside of the closed boardroom doors. At 7:02, the cavalry showed up.
For those of you who are not aware, your friendly neighbourhood student newspaper organized a peaceful sit-in on the U of R board of governors (BoG) meeting held on Feb. 7. Our message was simple: the University of Regina is one of the only post-secondary institutions that continues to keep its BoG meetings closed to both students and the public. This is obviously an affront to transparency about financial matters, but, to the board’s disadvantage, it also serves only to dehumanize the powers that be at the university.
Those of us who were there – 15 strong by the morning’s end – were largely bleary-eyed. A full-scale revolt was out of the question. A coup d’etat was never the intent of our small collective. Apparently, the board didn’t get the memo. As they arrived, board members were escorted around the top floor of the building to the rear entrance of the boardroom. There, they were let into the room by the head of campus security. The door was physically blocked by aforementioned security until such a time that the door could be closed and secured behind the board members.
On the behalf of peaceful assembly, allow me to ask that you give us a fucking break.
Shortly before 8 a.m. Paul McLellan, chair of the board of directors, came out of his fortified compound and met with our own editor-in-chief, John Cameron. Cameron was able to present McLellan with letters from editors and editorial staff from campus papers all around the country, which strongly implored the board to reconsider its closed-door meeting policy. It was recommended that, if we felt so strongly about the issue at hand, we could make a formal presentation to the board at their next meeting in May. After this civilized exchange, the crowd quietly dispersed, and business resumed for the board. So, is that it? Is our revolution over? Have the bums lost, Mr.Lebowski?
At the University of Regina Students Unions’ annual general meeting, URSU President Kent Peterson called the board’s actions despicable (which I think may be the strongest language I have ever heard Peterson use). In a vote that garnered almost unanimous support, those assembled at the AGM ruled in favour of urging the board of governors to change their current closed-door meeting system. This quiet revolution, this instance of activist journalism – no matter how seemingly trivial – may just be the fuel that will eventually power the engine of change at the U of R. My only hope is that everyone gets on board sooner rather than later.