Students wondering why their tuition has gone up will soon have the opportunity to question the Board of Governors about such decisions.|
The Board of Governors (BoG) recently voted to open two of their meetings to members of the public. At these open meetings, in addition to viewing the decision-making process, members will be able to have a question and answer session with the Board members.
The motion to open meetings was put forth by University of Regina Students' Union President and BoG member, Marjorie Brown. Brown is the only U of R student with a seat on the Board of Governors. Brown and the motion's seconder, U of R chancellor Verda Petry, had originally proposed to have all ten BoG meetings opened to the public.
After some discussion, the motion was amended to open two meetings. This model is similar to one used at the University of Alberta.
Previously, Board meetings had been closed to all members of the public, and minutes of the meetings had been sealed.
"I think the end result represents the best workable compromise that we could achieve," said Brown.
"This is a positive step. This provides the vehicle for students to have access to the BoG, and for students to make some decisions about what they would like to see in terms of BoG governance and representation."
In the months prior to the vote, some members of the BoG had been opposed to opening meetings. Brian Johnson was one such member, but he commented following the vote that he felt comfortable with the compromise reached by the BoG.|
"I didn't think that all BoG meetings should be open. I believe that people who have an interest should have an opportunity to come and observe what is going on, and in my view that could best be achieved in one of two ways; either by allowing people to attend by invitation, or alternatively, having some meetings open," said Johnson.
"I think this is a good compromise. It has some advantages over just having open meetings," said Petry. "I'm looking forward to this and to seeing how it is used."
Despite the failure of her original goal of having all meetings opened to the public, Brown was optimistic about this decision and other future changes.
"I don't feel this is the final step. This is the most fundamental change [to the BoG] that has occurred since it was constituted in this form, and I wouldn't underestimate that by any means."
In addition to two open meetings per year, members of the public can make an application to BoG Chairperson Charlie Baldock to be present at closed meetings to make presentations as a delegation, or to attend as an individual. The BoG also reached a verbal agreement to publish agendas for their
| meetings prior to the meeting on the U of R website, and to communicate decisions reached by the BoG also on the website.|
"I think some ground has been gained, but it's by no means as much as needs to be gained," commented history student Peter Borch, who is a member of the U of R Senate.
Borch met with some members of the BoG prior to the vote in an effort to promote the idea of open meetings.
"I think that it is good to have totally open meetings. I don't think the BoG has to worry; I don't think they would be overrun with students anyways."
The BoG is made up of twelve members: The University President (Don Wells), the U of R chancellor (Petry), six provincial appointees (Johnson, Arleen Hynd, Frank Proto, Melvin Isnana, Sunil Pandila, Mary Lou Deck), two members elected from the U of R senate (Baldock, Bernadette MacIntyre), a faculty member (currently vacant), and the URSU President.
The issue of open meetings was originally proposed by Brown over the summer at a Board of Governors retreat, but had been delayed until December for various reasons.
"I'm just glad that we finally were able to discuss the issue, because there were a number of delays, and to me it was important that we just got the issue to the table after six months of delays," said Brown.