Who Do Elected Board Members Represent? Not You.

On CBC Early Edition this morning, (starts around 2:19) Acting UBC President Angela Redish was interviewed about the controversy over Arvind Gupta’s “resignation” and John Montalbano’s alleged behaviour as a petty, insecure bully. In response to a question from host Rick Cluff about why Gupta resigned, she gave a meandering non-answer, ending with this statement:

    “The Board of Governors is 20 people, 8 of whom are elected, either elected faculty representatives, student representatives, or staff representatives. So it is a Board decision to accept that resignation, and the board does have representation from all those groups.”

With all due respect to Dr. Redish, that statement is completely false. The elected members of the Board represent the university, and no one else. The Code of Conduct for Members of the Board of Governors is unambiguous on this point.

    A Governor elected or appointed due to position or familiarity with related or stakeholder interests and concerns is not a delegate or democratic representative of any interest or group. While such a Governor may express and take into account those interests and concerns, nothing in this Code, or in the circumstances of a Governor’s election or appointment, relieves any Governor from the duty to act in the best interests of the University and with a view to advancing its welfare.

The idea that faculty, students, and staff have representation on the Board of Governors is a myth. Don’t believe it.


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  1. seems hyperbolic to claim that students don’t have any representation on the board.

    there are lots of kinds of representation, some more democratic than others. the student bog reps certainly aren’t representative in a perfectly democratic sense. once elected, they’re not bound to any student agenda, and there’s obviously a long history of student reps being co-opted by university interests.

    but the representation they offer seems better than nothing. they are elected. and each governor has fairly broad license to determine what’s in “the best interests of the university.” and meanwhile they’re not the exclusive rep of students, so it’s not like the university is entirely absolved from consultation if students end up w/ a weak sauce governor.

    yes, there’s some tension between being a governor and some kind of rep for students. but it’s not impossible, say, for a student rep to vote against a tuition hike. the students who make a big deal of this “conflict” are usually rationalizing their support for some university priority. the other ppl who tend to make a big deal of this “conflict” are student journos who are writ large cynical about student gov’t.

    arguing that there’s no power in the position isn’t a productive way of attracting students who could be forceful advocates on behalf of students. you should use what (little) power you have, even if you simultaneously need to acquire more.

    jeff friedrich
    former student bog rep

    Posted by jeff friedrich | August 24, 2015, 12:43 pm
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