Originally published Apr. 7/17.
By Kari Brozowski, Communications.
Despite having no official position in the WLU Act or Senate approval, the University Secretariat initiated its own Governance Review of Wilfrid Laurier University. While some may applaud the gumption, faculty should be concerned that the Report’s recommendations generally support the Secretariat’s consolidation of power over the entire WLU governance.
For all intents and purposes, the Review recommends creating a centralized system whereby power is located with the Secretariat, essentially ending the democratic processes of Senate. Despite its claims that faculty would maintain their power in accordance with the Act, a close read of the Review’s recommendations reveal a shift of power to the administration at the expense of the faculty.
Not letting the Report’s lack of implementation recommendations hold back progress, the Secretariat presented its own interpretation and implementation requirements for Senate in the governance restructuring process at the March 8th, 2017 Senate meeting. Not surprisingly, it recommended handing the keys to our academic freedom and programming responsibilities enshrined in the Senate over to the office of the Secretariat.
However, three things have to happen before the Secretariat can consolidate this power:
- The Act must be opened to add the new Secretariat position, since it currently has no such position or power in the Act, and it would be violating the Act by allowing its establishment. If the Act were to be opened, we as faculty should also increase the percentage of faculty on the Senate from fifty percent plus one to seventy or even eighty percent.
- A new Secretariat must be hired with a Ph.D. and experience as a Senator, since the position would have academic oversight for the entire University governance.
- The removal of the position of WLU President, since the President would have no role in the University governance in the potentially reconstituted Senate. Senators need to be concerned about violating the Act, which clearly states in Article 19(k) that only Senate can “create councils and committees to exercise its powers”. If Senate is to review itself and change any of the governance processes, then it needs to strike a committee to review the Senate and makes its own recommendations. It is up to us as faculty to attend the Senate meeting on May 23, 2017 at 3 p.m. in the Senate and Board chambers to voice our concerns.
It is up to us as faculty to attend the Senate meeting on May 23, 2017 at 3 p.m. in the Senate and Board chambers to voice our concerns.