Faculty of Arts governance committee (fwd)

Ellen Baar (baar@yorku.ca)
Sun, 31 Aug 1997 13:31:03 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Sun, 31 Aug 1997 11:31:57 -0400
From: Georges Monette <gmonette@YORKU.CA>
Reply-To: York University Faculty Association List <YUFA-L@YORKU.CA>
Subject: Faculty of Arts governance committee

My first reaction when I was asked to supply a statement for the
ballot for the Faculty of Arts governance committee was to think
of the the Larsen cartoon showing two bears in a gunsight. The bear on
which the cross-hairs are centered is pointing to the other ....

The governance committee has the potential of being one of the most
important committees in this university in decades. Most committees
roll their assigned stone along for the prescribed distance. Very few
committees have a mandate of doing something that might result in real
change in the natural course of events. Because of its unusual nature,
this committee's work is likely to have effects far beyond the Faculty,
even beyond our university.

I feel some discomfort in trying to articulate a position beyond the
bland recognition of the importance of the task. The more I try to
find a basic personal philosophy about these issues, the more
complex they seem. I feel some conflict from the fact that if I were
elected, I would feel a responsibility to a larger constituency
than the electors.

I see the university as the holder of a fiducial trust -- an
obligation, not just to its current students and faculty, but to the
larger society, not just now but to that of the future as well.
I think that the criterion for good governance structures would be that
they give the university the ability to fulfill this vague but fundamental
obligation to interests that do not have a direct voice in its

What would this mean specifically for the governance of the Faculty of
Arts? I do not yet know. Like others, I believe in democracy,
openness and participation in decision making although I'm not sure
that I see them as ultimate ends in themselves. The university must
be able to change in response to needs that originate outside the
group that participates in its democratic structures.

Perhaps the fundamental question in my mind is: how can we create
structures that are democratic yet serve the interests of people who are
not in the current demos? Or: how can governing structures be designed
so that decisions are shaped by ethical as well as political factors?

I was very pleased to see the high quality of nominees for the committee.
I know I won't vote for myself and I invite others to do likewise.

Georges Monette