When the appointed can fire the elected

This is not another post on how the commissioners of the European Union proceeded to essentially “fire” the elected prime ministers of Greece and Italy. This is about the new state of affairs in British Columbia’s public institutions for advanced education. Courtesy of the provincial government, there are now two classes of faculty members in BC’s universities, and there are two classes of members on their Board of Governors. Just when I thought I knew enough about the latter. 

Indeed, of all British Columbia’s issues that deserve the Premier’s attention, Christy Clarke chose to tackle the “College and Institutes Act”. Bill 18, the Advanced Education Statutes Amendment Act, was introduced in the legislature on November 3rd, 2011.

The amendment provides, “that an elected board member may be removed from the board”, by a two-thirds majority of the board. Now remember that the provincial government normally (though not at UBC) appoints two-thirds of the Board members of any given public institution in BC. In other words, this amendment is essentially legislating that elected members to a Board of Governors can be fired by the appointed members. I kid you not!

Besides this “removal clause”, the amendment also specifies “the circumstances in which a board member elected by faculty, staff or students would be ineligible to serve on the board of an institution”.

Do you remember the recent debate regarding faculty representation on the UBC Board? The academic community was debating whether the University Act should distinguish between the rank-and-file faculty and those with administrative positions, at least in matters regarding eligibility for faculty representation on the Board.

Many colleagues came out against the differentiation. A faculty is a faculty, is a faculty, whether he/she is an instructor or a member of the university executive. Hence, all are equally entitled to represent the faculty body.

Well, the provincial government seems to have a different take on the issue, as they have now legislated that there should indeed be two classes of faculty in matters regarding eligibility for faculty representation on the Board. But this time, the separation line is between those who are members of the local Faculty Association executive, and those who are not.

How ironic!

In any case, neither the BCGEU (B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union), nor the FPSE (Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC) are amused.

What “Piece of Mind” learned for you is that BC’s main universities had nothing to do with this amendment, which seems to have been triggered by a dispute in one of these institutions whose education was recently upgraded to “advanced” by another decree of the (previous) provincial government.

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