BUFA brings forth letters from three local MPPs to the Board of Trustees in support for transparency in meetings.
Linda Rose-Krasnor, Psychology professor on campus and President of Brock University Faculty Association explains that the push for transparency stems is the way for Board Members to reach a more public venue, rather than behind closed doors.
In April 2013, BUFA composed an open letter to the Brock University Board of Trustees, that urged the Board to reverse the policy that blocks public and university community access to its committee meetings. The letter also noted that restricting public access to committee meetings of the board appears “counter-intuitive in the age of public accountability”.
In seeking support, three MPP’s (Members of Provincial Parliament) from the surrounding Niagara region have all written letters of support addressed to Rose-Kransor and BUFA. They all support BUFA’s request for transparency and explain the importance of openness within a trusted, public institution like Brock.
Brock is governed by the Board of Trustees, which look after the financial aspects. All meetings are for Trustee members only. Whereas within the Brock Senate, which handles academics concerns, all committee meetings are open. “This is clearly not a parallel situation and we think it should be” said Rose-Krasnor.
The Board of Trustee’s currently releases their meeting minutes, but Rose-Krasnor believes this is not enough. “The minutes tend to be quite abbreviated; do not get a feel for the arguments and discussion that are made by the committee” said Rose-Krasnor.
Rose-Krasnor also explained that Trustees always have the option to discuss matters “in camera”, any sort of observer would be asked to leave the discussion, so that business could be conducted in a confidential manner.
The ultimate goal would be open up committee meetings so anyone– faculty, students, community members could come and listen. “Many of the board members come from a business environment; more secrecy, less public openness, which is very contrary to an academic environment” said Rose-Krasnor.
As for students, Rose-Krasnor believes the direct impact of Trustee Board decisions are inevitable” The board makes very important decisions in terms of tuition and buildings on campus, hiring, resources, student programs, decisions made. Students have a direct interest in both the financial and academic decisions being made” said Rose-Krasnor.
BUFA currently does not have any standing in the board, but submitted an open letter to the Brock Board of Trustees and included a petition for transparency. To date, the petition has over 130 signatures and growing. This, in combination with the letters from local MPP’s have been the only strategies used so far and Rose-Krasnor says she hasn’t seen any further support.
For more information or to view BUFA’s open letter to the Board of Trustees, visit www.bufa.ca.