Open letter to Chancellor MacEachern

Dear Chancellor MacEachern

There are many ways in which the democratic rights of the UBC Faculty have been denied during the  election of their representatives to the Presidential Search Committee:…Asking for nominations at five days’ notice (week-end included), closing the polls five days after they opened, rushing the process at a time when many of our colleagues are normally away on field trips,  not advising every eligible member of the nomination process and of the subsequent vote, holding electronic non-supervised ballots, erroneously rejecting some of our colleagues votes, denying others who were “begging to vote” from abroad, selectively altering deadlines, having “loyalists” run simultaneously  through Senate and through the Faculty,  advocating that 11% participation rate is proof that the system works, then refusing to announce the results widely because “people tend to view them as junk mail”…The list of irregularities is long, yet only 4 votes decided the outcome. In our opinion, this should lead to an immediate nullification of the whole process.

The selection of a President may probably be about the most important decision that we will be making at UBC over the next decade, so we care. We also believe that the Research Faculty at this University should be part of it, though our ultimate goal is to promote a more inclusive and more robust consultative process for the future of our university.

Now a truly representative Faculty Association would have challenged the process publicly. Yes, it was  wrong for the administration to deny it a seat on the search committee- but this is just one more grievance to the list, which should have been handled in the same way, by legally challenging the decision. Instead, the Faculty Association chose to run for the election, thereby legitimizing this questionable denial.

Its strategists then elected to aim for the two seats available to the Faculty at large, thereby effectively shutting out every other voice from the professoriate ranks. Not being able to run their vice-president who –being a librarian– is not eligible for this election, they run and campaigned for a past-president. At the service of their candidates, they put the resources and the mailing list of the Faculty Association – something none of the other candidates had access to. The two seats earmarked for the Vancouver UBC Faculty are now monopolized by the association’s agenda, which –let’s face it– is far from being espoused by UBC’s best and finest. Their strategy proved embarrassingly successful,  which led them to refuse our request for disseminating the outcome of the vote.

Not only is it unfair, but it also creates another whole legal context for questioning and reviewing the selection/representation process. We therefore ask you, Mr. Chancellor, to do what you have done all along in your distinguished legal career: Protect the right of individuals, ensure due process and call for a new and fair vote.

Nassif Ghoussoub, Professor of Mathematics

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