Monthly Archives: November 2014

Senate attendance must have been better than usual on 28 November 2014 because there was inadequate space for everyone in the traditional sixth floor senate room. Both rear doors were so clogged with people that it was impossible to exit or enter. The fire marshal could have shut the meeting down, something of an anti-quorum. Overall, that is a good sign. But Senate could use a new physical space. And this will soon become even more urgent when later this week the Board of Governors approves the addition of two new members of Senate from the ranks of our contract instructors. And frankly, the current Senate space has dreadful lighting and acoustics.

Suzanne Blanchard and Matthias Neufang gave a long presentation on enrolment, which is sensible timing given that provincial funding is based on enrolment numbers as of 1 November each year. The details were nicely presented and hopefully their slides will be made publicly available. The broad picture, though, was scary. We are now largely betting our future on international students and boutique programs. This is not sustainable because countries like China and India are creating their own universities and what is a fad today will soon be destined for the rubbish heap. Thus, in an era with grim demographics (our enrolments are forecasted to bottom out in 2019 at 4% below current levels), we are wagering on international recruiting and weak boutique programs, doing so without adequate consultation or planning. Not sure what happened to growing strengths, something we clearly are eschewing, and instead growing weak boutique programs as intentionally memorialized in our strategic mandate agreement, contrary to provincial instructions. While my colleagues have long spoken of Carleton’s financial position as being conservative, reliance on international recruiting and incipient boutique programs seems just the opposite to me.

One thing we could do to improve recruitment is not have campus tours start at Robertson Hall, which looks like a minimum security prison, especially with the special constables behind bullet-proof glass at the front entrance. If we are going to keep investing in fancy new buildings, maybe they could include a less gulag-esque visitor center.

John Shepherd and Jerry Tomberlin brought forward an emergency motion asking for Senate to delegate authority to Senate Executive to approve a new masters of accounting program. The motion was approved. This motion was driven by expedited provincial/external reviews, which in turn were driven by consolidation of the three professional accounting certification societies in Canada into one new society. I think the Senate vote was justified, although I have no idea why the alternative was not suggested of convening Senate in December or early January for an emergency session once the new masters in accounting program was drafted. It is also a bit embarrassing that Carleton was caught by surprise that something in our strategic mandate agreement was approved.

There was long discussion about fall break, with a few things I had never heard before. University of Ottawa has long ago scheduled their fall breaks for the next four years, and apparently we will be synchronized with them, at least if they don’t change their dates. Apparently our fall break is not scheduled for the week of thanksgiving because Carleton offers many quarter-credit (i.e. six week) courses, which we prefer to not have split up by the break. What went unsaid was that this must mean that these six-week courses are only offered during the first half of fall term. For instance, this year there were seven weeks prior to fall break and five weeks after fall break. I am not sure why we could not schedule fall break (and winter break) for the exact middle of term and thereby offer a pair of six-week sessions each term. I am also wondering whether faculty members can request that their normal half-credit (i.e. twelve week) courses be offered as intensive six-week courses. That is, could we request that our courses meet twice as often as usual each week, but for half the number of weeks?

Finally, so as not to be redundant, please see my Board of Governors blog posting for 29 November 2014 for discussion of Carleton’s disgraceful and at best quarter-hearted acknowledgment of being on Algonquin lands.

This blog reflects my personal opinions of what transpired at the open session of Senate. This is not meant to replace the official minutes, which are remarkably well done in Senate.

The 18 September 2014 meeting of Science Faculty Board occurred without a quorum. Several undergraduate course calendar and program changes were approved at that meeting. A few days later, I protested the lack of quorum.

At the 13 November 2014 meeting of Science Faculty board, the matter of lack of quorum was discussed and dealt with. The previous round of undergraduate course calendar and program changes were voted upon once again and approved again. A new “note 6” was added to the minutes of the 18 September 2014 meeting to alert Senate that there was a lack of quorum and therefore any decisions made on 18 September were null and void. Thanks to the dean and associate dean of science for making these changes. I assume that Senate by and through the Senate Committee on Curriculum, Admissions, and Studies Policy (SCCASP) will now have to vote again on these changes.

On 21 September 2014, I had complained about lack of quorum at the 19 June 2014 Science Faculty Board meeting, which also included approval of calendar changes, but that matter has not yet been resolved.

At the 13 November 2014 meeting, I asked whether Science Faculty Board had approved the graduation list for November 2014 convocation at their meeting on 18 September 2014. The dean of science said that Science Faculty Board no longer votes on graduation lists, but simply passes through approval or rejection of graduation lists from individual departments and institutes within the Faculty of Science. Antithetically, graduation lists are not even on Science Faculty Board’s consent agenda. I leave it to Senate to decide whether Science Faculty Board is allowed to delegate and abdicate this important responsibility of voting on graduation lists.

Finally, note that I have just reported on events that transpired at the 13 November 2014 meeting of Science Faculty Board, which is a closed/confidential session. Therefore, on 14 November 2014, I obtained explicit written permission from the dean of science to blog about matters associated with Science Faculty Board quorum.

A unit at Carleton recently attempted to change a small portion of the undergraduate calendar via an e-mail poll (for the record, I fully endorse the proposed change). The proposal and request to vote was sent via an e-mail that ended with the following words, “silence implies consent.” While the author did not intend it as such, this is a fundamentally anti-feminist governance policy, one that also flies in the face of virtually all parliamentary procedure or rules of order, in which silence typically implies abstention. What should our students think when faculty and administrators advocate for “silence implying consent”?

I read the sentence with the phrase “silence implies consent” to our 14 year-old daughter, whose immediate response was that this encourages rape culture. This demonstrates that the three-word phrase is neither cryptic nor benign. Carleton seems stuck in the “no means no” era, clueless that “yes means yes” is a far better and more feminist policy for sexual consent or any other form of consent.

I objected in writing within an hour of the governance policy being promulgated that “silence implies consent.” Yet this offensive phrase was not rescinded nor modified. Such apathy and inaction is as disturbing to me as the original offensive phrase.

I am not advocating a fundamentalist adherence to political correctness. The mere existence of my blogs is supposedly a breach of political correctness! But faculty members and administrators in official correspondence should avoid espousing rape culture as much as we should avoid espousing racism, whether inadvertent or not.

Including “silence implies consent” as part of our governance policy (it clearly was not dicta) exemplifies the many gender problems at Carleton. Carleton hires a smaller percentage of female tenure-track faculty than most other Canadian universities, and I have not yet seen any plans to remedy this. Based on my ridiculously small sample size, Carleton seems to pay female faculty members less than their otherwise equivalent male counterparts. For example, in 2006, my (opposite sex) partner and I were simultaneously hired by the same department at Carleton. At the time, she had twice as many peer-reviewed publications as me. At the time, she had acquired millions of dollars in external funding, while I had obtained none. Yet the university insisted that her starting salary would have to be less than mine, where things remain to this day despite that she has even further eclipsed me in teaching, research, and especially administration. If silence implies consent, as it seems to be, then we should no longer be silent about such gross inequities.

Carleton’s governance issues are not simply restricted to gender issues. I highlighted several due process foibles in this and my Board of Governors blog. For instance, on 26 September 2014, I noted in this senate blog that science faculty board has been blatantly lying to senate by reporting approval of many official matters despite knowing that there was no faculty board quorum. This was even more insidious because faculty boards get to set their own quorum rules. On 13 November 2014, science faculty board will be convening for the first time since my complaint. However the lies of omission to senate about lack of quorum are conspicuously absent from the agenda for next week’s faculty board meeting. [Note added 8 November 2014: Science faculty board did partly heed my complaint. At the 13 November meeting, the proposed program and calendar changes approved at the previous quorum-less meeting will be voted on again, albeit with some changes since the September 2014 meeting.]

I have been repeatedly told that one of my jobs is to bolster the reputation of Carleton. I certainly do that in my teaching and research. While my job might not be perfect, it is the best job I have ever had (and with the best commute and with many superb colleagues), which I tell everyone who will listen. But unlike lies of omission about quorum promulgated by the dean, I will neither falsify nor hide egregious administrative university acts. When university officials trample due process, I will speak of it. When the university fosters gross gender inequities, I will speak of it. When anybody at our university espouses rape culture or misconstrues silence, I will speak of it. In the long run, I would rather improve our university than falsely act as a sexist or autocratic cheerleader. To recycle an (albeit anachronistically slightly sexist) epigraph, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” (Brandeis 1913: 10).