Editorial—The Official Reaction

I got in touch with AUSU’s president, Karen Fletcher, to ask her about the recent change in AU’s President, including as to what your student representatives on the board knew about the whole affair, and what happens now.

In her response, she noted that “despite being board members, with full voting seats, students were not informed that there would be a vote, and were never sent a formal motion from the board chair to vote on.  Instead I was informed that the decision had already been made in an email from the board chair, which said, ‘I appreciate it was last minute but I wanted to give you advance notice of Peter’s termination and the hiring of Dr. Alex Clark… notwithstanding my late contact to you…you are permitted of course to send me your vote by return email if you wish.’”

She continued, “We were not informed that there would be a vote until after the vote occurred, and were excluded from all discussions about Peter’s firing and Alex’s hiring which seem to have taken place among a small group of board members.  As you can see from Byron’s email above the ‘opportunity’ to vote happened after the vote occurred, that email was sent to me from the board Chair after AU staff members were already informed of the decision.”

I also asked if any official or legal follow-up was planned considering that the press release of AUSU seems to indicate that this action may have been done in contravention of the AU governance bylaws.  The section in question is 8.63 on page 14, which notes that if, in the opinion of the Board Chair, it is desirable to pass a resolution outside a regularly scheduled meeting, then a written response by at least 75% of the Board Members shall be valid.  Did 75% of the board members respond?   Who can tell; a count of the votes is only recorded if three members request one before the determination of the vote.  As noted by the quotes above from Advanced Education Minister Nicolaides’ bagman appointee and failed Alberta PC leadership contender, Byron Nelson, he had already determined the vote by the time he wrote your student representatives, neatly shortcutting a possibility of requiring a count of the votes be recorded.

Yet we can do some figuring, and note that there are currently 19 members of the board. 75% of those is 14.25, or at least 15 of the members of the board must have voted for this. We can be pretty sure that the President himself did not, and we know our two undergraduate student representatives did not. That’s three.

Dr. Dron further noted in his blog that the Academic Staff members seemed to have been taken similarly by surprise, which suggests another two had not voted.  If this is true, then the most that could have voted would be 14, or 73.68% of 19.

President Fletcher told me that AUSU is currently evaluating their options, but it seems to me that the Board Chair may well have over-stepped his bounds when calling the decision made, as it does not seem to have been done in the manner allowed.  Of course, all of that runs into one giant sticking point that is point 2.21, noting that “The Board is the sole authority for the interpretation of  these Bylaws, including any question of interpretation …”  So even if 75% is needed, if 50% of the board, that is, less than the number of people Minister Nicolaides has appointed in the last six months, decide to ‘interpret’ 75% as meaning 14 (or 12, or 2) people out of 19, it’s technically within the legal boundaries.

Because hey, if they’re going to be this blatant about not caring about the university, there’s no point in pretending to care if things are done properly.

Enjoy the read.