UPDATE, Wed May 2nd, 2012:At the Board of Governors Meetings on Friday April 27th, The Board passed a motion to suspend the Conflict of interest By-Law pending an internal review of the by-law. This meant that the Student Governors were able to stay within the meeting and to vote on the issue of tuition.
We consider this a great victory, and are going to proceed cautiously and with this move by the Board, LUSU has decided to delay going to the Courts until the results of the review of the by-law are finished within a reasonable timeframe.
We will continue to keep you posted with any new information that becomes available
Friday April 27th, 2012
The Board of Governors is the highest decision governing body at Lakehead. It consists of Community members, administration, faculty, staff, and students of Lakehead. This year there were 33 members on the Board of Governors and their job is to make the highest decisions regarding the functioning of the University as a whole.
On January 27th the Lakehead University Board of Governors voted to change their Conflict of Interest By-Law and in doing so removes students’ ability to speak about, or vote on, so-called “student issues” such as tuition fees. This decision was made because of a perceived conflict of interest for student governors on student issues, in that the interests of student governors differ from the interests of all other governors. Because the Board of Governor’s position is that student governors are in a conflict of interest on this and other student matters, students will not have the opportunity to participate in the discussion leading up to the tuition vote, and will not be able to vote on the issue. In fact student governors will have to physically remove themselves from discussions regarding tuition fees, and from any future discussion regarding “student issues.”
It is the position of the Lakehead University Student Union that student governors are not in a conflict of interest on the issue of tuition fees. The reality is, a change in tuition fees does not only affect students. Tuition fees make up 48% of the University’s operating budget. The entire board of governors has the same interest in tuition fees as they oversee the operating budget. Tuition fee increases covers the wages of staff and administration, building and grounds maintenance, student scholarships, and more.
Stating that student governors are in a conflict of interest on an issue that has such broad implications by virtue of their status as students is illogical. Student governors provide a perspective on student issues, regardless of whether it affects them or not. As with all governors, they have a responsibility to act in the best interest of the University in all matters, including classroom maintenance, the lease or sale of university land, and tuition fees.
Every other university in Canada allows student governors to discuss and vote on student issues including tuition fee changes.
For example: The bylaws of Queen’s University state “a trustee who is a student may take part in discussions and vote on matters relating to tuition.”
Algoma University: “ a member of the Board who is also a member of the teaching staff, or a non-teaching employee, or student of the University may take part in discussing and voting on issues concerning general conditions of employment for university employees or students generally, unless the discussion and voting deals with the circumstances of the particular employee or student as an isolated issue, separate and apart from consideration of other employees or students.”
And at Laurentien University, where their Board of Governors including students receive a tuition exemption for themselves and immediate family members, in doing so removing themselves from any conflict of interest regarding tuition.
WHAT WE ARE DOING:
On Monday April 30th, the Lakehead University Student Union will be asking the court to weigh in on the interpretation of conflict of interest in the Board of Governors’ By-Laws.
Friday April 27th we launched a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to re-open the Lakehead University Act 1965 in order to enshrine student positions and their rights on any governing body at the University. Minister Glen Murray of the ministry of Training, Colleges, & Universities and Theresa Armstrong the NDP Critic for Post-Secondary Education will begin to introduce the very first 120 signatures in the Ontario legislature on the morning of Monday April 30th.
Since the news broke we have gained tremendous support from faculty associations, student unions and private citizens from across the country. We have trended on twitter and Facebook and made the top ten news stories in the sector in all of Canada on Friday April 27th. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the support we have received throughout this venture.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Come stop by the LUSU office to sign the petition, and show your support to give the Students of Lakehead their voice back on the Board of Governors. If you want to help online, we are in the process of formulating a letter that you can send to the Board of Governors, and administration, and it will be up and running shortly. If you have any questions or concerns regarding what is going on please do not hesitate to contact our office, as we would be happy to answer any questions of concerns you might have.
Our goal is to protect the rights of the students to participate on the governing boards of the university, and to keep our voice at the Board of Governors for all issues.
Emma Brightwell- President
Steven Ackroyd- Vice-President Finance
Emily Lauzon- Vice-President Student Issues