Further to a series of unfortunate events that had taken place from August 2015 onwards, and particularly in reaction to the accidental release of documents at the end of January 2016, a motion of no confidence in the UBC Board of Governors was brought to members of the Faculty Association.
This motion had started out in life as a petition, for such a motion to be put to our association’s membership; the petition was drafted in response to requests from participants in the UBClean grassroots protest on 2 February 2016. This protest was in horrified reaction to the revelations from the accidentally leaked documents: protesting centred around secret meetings (yet another of which was reported on by one of our excellent student newspapers, The Ubyssey, just the day before), a lack of transparency and accountability, and a wish for “cleaning up” governance starting with a full independent external review of past events and practices, with a view to changing practices in the future for the better. The protest included a range of members of the UBC community, some of whom also made formal statements (the undergraduates via their Alma Mater Society on 4 February, for example), some of whom may do so or present other motions elsewhere (for example through the other half of our bicameral system of governance, the Senate), and some of whom are groups that include people from across the community (divestment, diversity/ies, First Nations rights).
The petition was drafted and started to circulate late at night on 4 February, circulating properly publicly in the morning of 5 February. It had 100 signatures before 1 p.m. and over 200 within 24 hours of its first appearance. Once the petition reached the requisite number of signatories (at least 10% of the Faculty Association membership; at the time of closing it to new signatures so as to present it to the Faculty Association before 3 p.m. that day, it had 457 signatures of voting Faculty Association members, plus the support of 62 non-voting professors emeriti), it was presented to the Faculty Association, who then consulted with their Executive Committee and legal adviser to determnine what the next steps would be. A motion—a shorter form of the petition—was then presented on 1 March (by Jonathan Ichikawa Jenkins with me as 2nd), and a meeting for discussion set for three weeks after, 22 March. Online voting on the motion opened on 23 March and closed on 29 March; exactly a week, though effectively two and half working days as that period included two public holidays and a weekend.
The results of the vote were published on 29 March a little before 2 p.m.:
FOR = 800
AGAINST = 494
The motion carried. That was a total of 1294 votes, out of a possible total of 3357 eligible voting members.
While voting was underway, a forum was also open for further discussion, in continuation of debate that took place at the Faculty Association Special General Meeting on 22 March. This forum is private, for Faculty Association members. Those posting included people against the motion, people who were undecided, and people who were for it. Discussion was civil (I am not including screenshots here because this is a private forum.) I hope it remains open permanently and would like to see more such online fora for the necessary next discussion of ideas for next steps to help the Board of Governors in their hard work to earn the trust of those faculty who do not at present have confidence in them.
There were also two counter-motions of sorts, one of them a petition by the voiceless oppressed who were unable to vote because they are not members of the Faculty Association; those who started this petition and those contributing would appear to be dominated by deans and directors of institutes, which roles are the reason for their lack of a vote. This petition was started at the same time as the Faculty Association vote, and has at the time of writing—a week later—129 signatures.) The other counter, which started circulating on 24 March, would appear to be from a small group of persons at the Sauder business school.
What has happened next:
- reporting in the media
- analysis, comment, discussion
- and next?
The results of this vote are public. They will of course also be properly presented to the Board of Governors. What happens next is very much up to the Board of Governors. There are three possibilities:
- Nothing at all
- The Board resigns
- The Board considers, reflects, listens, discusses, and works to earn the trust of faculty
The first two are highly improbable. The third is not only the most likely outcome, but what would at least appear already to be happening. Moves made and things said by the Board, its Chair, and other senior persons at UBC—especially in the period between the start ot the faculty petition and now, those last six weeks or so—would suggest that listening is happening; words like concerns, respect, listen, renewal, trust have been used, reflecting the lexicon that online public commentators like myself have been using (and that are part of the Board’s Code of Conduct and Ethics). See for example here (and its criticism here)
In appendix to the appendix: here is a supplement, along similar lines. Being a BODY OF EVIDENCE (in appendix to post (1) of the same title) as a RUNNING RECORD OF MEDIA COVERAGE IN +/- CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. From a range of sources including UBC News/Public Affairs/PR, UBC Faculty Association public information & correspondence with the Board, mainstream news, independent media, student journalism, and investigative reporting and commentary.
I have commented a little today, on Twitter. Here are my formal official public reactions to the vote, along with some others’ public Twitter comments that I judged to be key, as helpful constructive suggestions to our Board on what to do next.
(Slide above from Nicole Texeira, palaeography course assignment, https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/nictex11/assignment-three-info-28411-54583600 )