Dear community, students, faculty, staff and administration, do you know who’s in charge of the University of Victoria?
The university’s website states “the Board of Governors is responsible for the management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business, and affairs of the university.” The Board of Governors is made up of eight politically appointed members (a majority), the president (elected by a 20-person appointment committee), the chancellor (recommended to the Board of Governors by a seven-person search committee, approval required by the Board of Governors), two elected students, two elected faculty, and one elected staff member; that’s a total of 15 members.
So who gets to appoint the eight politically appointed members? In my last week’s editorial, I wrote that the Lieutenant Governor of B.C., Judith Guichon, appointed by Stephen Harper, personally appoints them. From what I understand as of now, the lieutenant-governor only signs off on the board appointments as a figurehead. The actual selection is made by Christy Clark and her selected Executive Council (elected B.C Liberal MLAs). In other words, one person and party appoints all the politically appointed members to the Board of Governors of the University of Victoria (eight out of 15 members). Why is the majority of the Board of Governors of the University of Victoria made up of people approved by Liberal Leader Christy Clark?
Voters should have democratic political representation, which the Board of Governors of UVic does not fulfil. When a voter votes, they are exercising their right to vote, a fundamental human right, and they expect to be represented. In the 2013 B.C. Provincial Election, 56 per cent of voters voted New Democrat, Green, Conservative, and independent, yet none of these parties gets to appoint any member to UVic’s Board of Governors, while Clark and her party get to appoint all the appointed members. Why do Clark and her party get to appoint all the politically appointed members with only 44 per cent of the vote? Not surprisingly, one of the two new politically appointed board members this year is Ida Chong, a former B.C Liberal MLA and hardline supporter of the HST tax that got repealed by voters two years ago.
One person and party appointing the majority of the members of the Board of Governors of UVic violates the human and political rights of voters who did not vote for Clark and the Liberal Party. The reason this is undemocratic and a clear violation of the human and political rights of voters is because their political interests and choices are not represented by the Board of Governors at the University of Victoria. If the University of Victoria is to be considered a progressive and democratic institution that respects the human and political rights of voters, its politically appointed members to the Board of Governors have to be representative of the political interests and choices of all British Columbians.
So what would a democratically appointed board that respected the human and political rights of voters look like? Based on the 2013 B.C. provincial election, 44 per cent of voters voted for Clark and the Liberal Party, so they would appoint four members to the board (44 per cent of eight appointed members), the New Democratic Party would appoint three members (40 per cent of eight appointed members), and the Green Party would appoint one member (eight per cent of eight appointed members). Under this democratic system, 48 per cent of voters who currently have no representation on the university’s Board of Governors (those who voted New Democrat and Green) would have political representation on the board.
The above system for choosing the politically appointed board members is democratic and respects the human and political rights of voters, unlike the current system which is undemocratic and violates our human and political rights. The above system politically represents all voters, unlike the current system which only represents 44 per cent of the voters. The eight politically appointed board members must represent the political will of all voters. Voters have different interests in how the University of Victoria is managed, administered and controlled. Through their taxes, they are the financial backbone of the public institution that is the University of Victoria, and have a human and political right to be represented by the Board of Governors.
So, I say again: dear community, students, faculty, staff and administration, let’s start working together to make the University of Victoria a democratic institution that respects our human and political rights.