Governance and Administration

David Bakan (dbakan@yorku.ca)
Sat, 3 Jan 1998 13:30:18 -0500 (EST)


Bob, ad locum

At 10:25 03/01/98 -0500, you wrote:

bd
>No, I quite agree, the issues of greatest interest to faculty are, and
>probably should be, issues of money, jobs, teaching and research. And when
>it comes to "governance," I assume the greatest interest is in having more
>information about and greater influence over, the hiring and spending
>decisions of the University.

db
That's fine. money, jobs and teaching/research. These correpsond to
Appropiations, appointments, operations. And the things at issue are
really the decisions about the first two.

bd
However, the motion that gave rise to our
>committee was attached to a motion of non-confidence in the Dean and
>administration of the Faculty and called for a study of some specific matters
>relating to Faculty governance.

db
The motion came as a special case of a vote of no-confidence in the
administrtion as a whole. YUFA voted a strong vote of no-confidence in the
administration. And, the no confidence in this particular dean was, as I
understood it, a confirmation in the faculty of arts of the sentiment that
had been previously indicated.

bd
The ones that are perhaps most significant
>have to do with the relationship of the Dean and Associate Deans to Council,
>and the role of department Chairs.

db
These are of particular significance in this because it represents the power
of the administration in the Senate. These people are appointed by the
administration to their offices, and are thereby automatically in the
Senate. You are right. This is a real sore point. It essentially means
that these many votes --qualified thank God by the integrity of some of the
people who hold these offices--are administrative votes in the Senate. And
Administration, mind you, which has been the object of a vote of no
confidence by the faculty.

bd
On the other hand, there was considerable
>interest in some quarters on Council with the procedures for election of
>persons to Arts committees and as Arts representatives on Senate.

db
It is an illusion to think that the way in which we select the remaining
members of the Senate from the Faculty of Arts reaches to the issue at all.
Frankly, I feel it is a falling into old habits of "student government".

bd
You may
>think that a foolish interest; feel free to try and so persuade the rest of
>the committee. It was however something some members of Council thought
>important, and frankly, it seems to me it is an aspect of democratic and
>collegial governance.

db
Let me say what I mean by "student government". I once had a wonderful
conversation with a high school principle who talked about student
government at length. He thought it was very important for a school to have
it. It was an important "exercise" in democracy. He strongly distinguished
between "exercise" and true democracy. In exercise, he pointed out, one has
to be free to make mistakes. And in exercise one makes provisions that the
exercises that the student engages in do not cause harm to himself or
others. It is precisely for this reason that the things that student
government deals with, he argued, have to be relatively inconsequential.
And, indeed, he saw to that in his school.

bd
If the Faculty has committees it does not need, or
>lacks committees that would be of more use to (y)our larger aims, then let's
>talk about that,

db
Let us not do this Bob

bd
but in the meantime, let's ensure that the process of
>nominating and electing representatives is fair and equitable.

db
I refer back to my student government comment.

bd
It is.
>moreover, one of the simpler tasks and can be dealt with fairly quickly, tnus
>allowing us to deal at greater length with matters of admittedly greater
>interest and importance.

db
The biggest problem that this committee has is to find out where it is
going. To go in this direction is to lose sight of the main issues, and, I
am afraid, generate disrespect for the Committee for dealing with
unimportant issues.

bd
I cannot help but observe however that most
>students who are affected by their decisions would probably think the
>petitions and assessment committees, and the committee on curriculum and
>academic policy, moderately important. Do their views matter? Regards, Bob

db
As I hear it, the students are concerned with impossibly large classes and
rising fees, and student debts as I hear it.

I hardly think that the issues of fairness in grading and the like were
behind the negative vote of confidence either in the administration at
large, or in the negative vote of confidence in the dean.

And under any circumstances the issues you mention here are in Operations
more than Appropriations and Appointments. Nor does the issue of the way in
which we vote for representatives from the Faculty of Arts reach close to
theOperational issues you specify.