When it comes to making the big decisions that affects students and the U of A campus as a whole, you’d be forgiven for assuming there would be a certain level of transparency and accountability to constituents. However, with recent changes to the recording — or lack thereof — of movers and seconders of motions at Board of Governors meetings, those fundamental values of politics — transparency and accountability — have been completely disregarded.
In his Oct. 23rd report to Students’ Council, Board of Governors representative Brent Kelly stated that Audit Committee member Ove Minsos expressed concern over movers and seconders of motions being recorded. It was Minsos’s belief that since the entire group decides on motions as a whole, the recording was unnecessary. Unfortunately, the board voted in favour of removing the mover and seconder requirement.
To their credit, Kelly, along with Students’ Union President Colten Yamagishi, voted against the changes and have expressed their disagreement. But with the majority of the board voting in favour, it seems like little can be done now to change things.
With the all the responsibility and power that the BoG has, it’s absolutely ridiculous for the majority of members to support a lack of answerability for their actions. The board not only represents tuition-paying students, but it also serves the interests of the community, the government and the financial dealings that all involve the U of A. With high stakes like that, transparency over movers and seconders should not be a debatable issue.
Everyone who has a vested interest in the U of A has the right to demand accountability from those who represent and make decisions on their behalf. If movers and seconders of motions are no longer being recorded, constituents have nobody to whom they can direct their disagreement, anger or even praise. The board should not be treated as one entity. Each member must feel accountable to those they represent — because that’s how representation should work. When a member is on the record as putting forth a motion or seconding it, they should feel like they have to answer to their constituents for the way they vote. That way they can adequately address the needs of those they represent.
Recording who moves and seconds motions gives a glimpse into what the board member’s priorities are. If someone is moving or seconding a motion, they’re putting their views out in the open before an actual vote on the matter happens. For this reason, it’s crucial to know the board members intentions by having motions recorded.
Kelly goes on in his report to say that he feels these changes are reflective of tensions within the board and that it seems like it’s the “Administration versus the other constituent groups of this campus.” If these changes are a way to ease the tension by treating the board as one entity, it won’t work and it only serves to breed distrust between constituents and those in governance.
Because the Board of Governors represents a wide range of U of A related interests, it cannot be treated as one body when it comes to the moving and seconding of motions. The BoG needs to show its constituents that they’re looking out for their interests while also being accountable if it hopes to be taken seriously.
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