On April 11, 2016, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) passed a motion of non-confidence in Carleton’s Board of Governors. The CUASA motion was joined by similar votes by grad students and administrative staff, and follows attempts by the Board to stifle discussion and criticism through restrictive new bylaws and attacks on critical members.
CUASA and its allies released the following statement:
Over the past week, unions representing faculty, librarians, administrative staff, and graduate students at Carleton University have unanimously passed motions of non-confidence in the Board of Governors. These motions express the sincere concerns of students and workers, who believe that the Board of Governors does not have the best interests of the community or the public good at heart. They raise the question of whether the Board can be trusted to make important decisions about the operations and future of Carleton University.
These non-confidence motions follow mounting frustration on campus surrounding the state of academic governance at Carleton University, and the introduction of controversial new bylaws which were passed by the Board on March 21st. The new bylaws make the Board less open, less accountable, and centralize power within the Executive Committee of the Board. The changes also entrench the highly contentious Code of Conduct into the bylaws, imposing a lifetime gag order on elected governors and restricting them from communicating back to their constituencies.
Carleton University has faced heightened scrutiny over the last few months over its secretive, exclusionary, and regressive approach to governance. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has threatened to blacklist the institution for violating the academic freedom of Dr. Root Gorelick, who is a faculty representative on the Board.
These motions come as new revelations demonstrate the extent to which Carleton University is prepared to violate academic freedom in order to silence dissent. In a feature article (link) published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in the Spring 2016 issue of Our Schools/Our Selves, Dr. Gorelick writes in detail about how Carleton University has violated his academic freedom in its retaliation against his blogging about open sessions of the Board. In addition to the threats of removal from the Board, his employment has also been threatened with disciplinary action by Carleton University Human Resources, and the university has locked him out of his teaching and research website.
The non-confidence motions were unanimously passed by the Council of the Graduate Students’ Association on April 8, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association at their Annual General Meeting on April 11, and the Executive Board of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2424 on April 14.
An article on the Carleton controversy written by Root Gorelick will be featured in the upcoming issue of Academic Matters, out in May.