On March 12, it was announced that the Brock Board of Trustees had voted on the proposal to reduce the size of its board. The initial plans were circulated late last year, as university administration asked for public feedback.
Despite many students having strong opinions, criticisms and even input from BUSU, the Board has decided by a vote at their Mar. 12 meeting to move forward. The vote was held in an in-camera session.
While technical, business and legal jargon may blur the weight of this decision, the Board of Trustees has a pivotal role in university governance. As defined in the Brock University Act “the Board of Trustees is responsible for the government, conduct, management and control of the University and of its property, revenues, expenditures, business and affairs”.
As Brock students, the decisions made by this board in how the university spends its money and how the university chooses to build its infrastructure directly affects us, yet this new decision has moved to reducing undergraduate student representation on the Board.
In an aggressive, political spin on the situation, Brock News published the announcement article under the title: “Board of Trustees gets leaner”.
In this ‘meat metaphor’, students and staff are the fat. We are the voices that must be sacrificed in the name of efficiency. Yes, community member representation and staff representation were both cut as well, but undergraduate students and graduate students tie for the lowest amount of voting influence on the board both before and after this decision.
With over 17,000 undergraduate students currently registered at Brock, student enrolment provides Brock with a large portion of its capital, along with research and grants, and yet the opinions and ideas of those paying students are being devalued and set aside.
Additionally, the single undergraduate student seat is to be filled by BUSU Presidents. While the BUSU President does represent an elected official, put in office through student votes, it’s disappointing that the power of representation that a Board of Trustees seat represents will be given to a student who already has an official voice at the university level. In order to fully represent Brock’s student population, a greater diversity of voices must be incorporated into decision-making processes.
While some may dismiss the changes, as they will not be fully implemented for another three years, Brock’s collection of data and input seems irresponsible at best. After all, even if the majority of students had supported this decision (which they didn’t), in three year’s time, it would still be another set of entirely new and unique students who have to live under the weight of these decisions.
Ultimately, one student now speaks for 17,000. But unfortunately, within the context of the board, their vote only has a weight of 4.2 per cent. Ultimately, any statistical disparity of representation is justified simply in the name of improving efficiency.