Updated Statement on Senate Policy and Actions endorsed by 164 faculty Reply

Senate Meeting, Senate Policy: Questions for discussion

The agenda distributed in advance of Monday’s Senate meeting (16 March 2015) frames the meeting explicitly as an information and discussion session, where already made and finalized decisions by Senate Executive will be presented and discussed. The Senate Executive rationale for this meeting states, “members of the Committee felt it was important to meet…to inform senators of the actions it has taken and to facilitate discussion of the academic implications of the current disruption.” There will be no votes or motions.

This is an obfuscation of democratic principles and may be a usurpation of power by the administration. Senate policy requires calling a meeting of Senate after 14 days of a labour disruption for a reason, and that reason is not to serve as an information platform and rubber-stamping of decisions made by administration.

While the Senate Executive rationale speaks of “core principles” with respect to the Senate Policy on Disruptions (see attached below), one of which is “Timely Information,” it is not clear that the Senate Executive has in fact observed this mandate in its entirety.   This policy on disruption does not give the Senate Executive the decision-making power to re-start classes as such.  This policy describes a process of dealing with ‘disruption’ in the university.  It contemplates short, medium-length and long disruptions and correlates specific actions to these ‘stages’.

Under the section on “Timely Information” (3.1.1.3), the policy states, “A notice shall be posted by the Senate Executive Committee regarding the possibility of rescheduling following a Disruption and of term extension following the conclusion of a Disruption.”  This language clearly envisions rescheduling of classes only “following” or at “the conclusion of a disruption.” There is no language in this Senate policy that envisions restarting classes during a disruption.

The language that follows in the policy articulates the various steps or stages through which the Senate Executive will deliberate such possible actions.

In the first stage, remediation is determined entirely by the professoriate.  In the second stage, Senate Executive “shall announce that all quarter and half courses will require substantial remedial action.”  We are at this stage now. This language provides for is an announcement of a future need.

For the third stage, article 3.3.4.4 indicates that the Senate Executive has the “authority to extend a term and to authorize the rescheduling of examinations which have been disrupted, in order to preserve academic integrity.” This is power to determine a temporal period in which disrupted work can be made up.

In the last stage, under 3.3.4.6 where a disruption is too long to provide for remediation, the Senate Executive has the authority to recommend to Senate that “credit not be given.”

Overall, the Senate Executive Committee has the power to decide that remediation is necessary and to extend a term and reschedule exams if necessary.  The context of these actions is article 3.1.1.3 cited above. The powers of Senate Executive are quite limited and the time frame in which these powers are in effect quite specific.

Arguably then, Senate Executive has not actually followed Senate policy with respect to this disruption.  In this policy classes can resume and the term can be extended only “following the conclusion of a Disruption.”

In keeping with the provisions of this Senate policy, hundreds of faculty members argue that classes should begin only when the labour disruption has been concluded. A third of Senate members support this view.  Since recent Senate “reforms,” however, Senate is less a collegial governance body than an extension of the administration. Many senators who might wish to contest the administration’s usurpation of Senate powers are in vulnerable positions as Chairs, Masters, GPDs, and so on, given the potential for reprisals against their programs.

Senate meetings are open to faculty, students and staff. It is an opportunity to express our concerns about university actions leading up to and during the CUPE strike and express our lack of confidence in the leadership of President Mamdouh Shoukri and Provost Rhonda Lenton.   This heavy-handed managerialism is not the way to build the “York brand” — despite the millions spent on advertisement and public relations. The university must be made answerable to collegial bodies, public funds and public interest.  Let’s assert the responsibility of faculty and unit councils for upholding the academic integrity of our programs, and the right of CUPE units still on strike to negotiate in a fair and reasonable process.

Postscript: “Mandate Creep”

On March 16 2015, Roxanne Mykitiuk, Chair of Senate, sent a message to the York Community indicating the following: Classes Resuming March 17 and 23 / 14th Day of the Disruption.  The most significant word in this subject statement is the preposition “of”.   In effect the Senate Executive has assumed the authority to resume classes during a disruption and not after a disruption.  The rationale given in this message is the following:

Consistent with institutional guidelines and Faculty-specific remediation frameworks for the resumption of classes, and considering the need of some Faculties for additional time to prepare for resumption of classes, Senate Executive Committee has determined that classes in the following Faculties will resume on Tuesday, March 17:

If “institutional guidelines” refers to the Senate’s Policy on Disruption, there is no evidence that its Executive paid careful attention to it.  Senate Executive has articulated the contents of this Policy in a very selective way without consideration of the overall protocol that the Policy sets out.   Monday’s message from the Chair of Senate states, “A disruption of two full weeks means that adjustments to class schedules and normal academic regulations will be necessary.”  This is a reference to Article 3.3.3 of the Policy: “If two or more weeks of instructional time are lost  … the Senate Executive shall presume the need for a modification of the teaching term with any concomitant changes in examination scheduling.”

The “modification of the term” referenced in 3.3.3 of the Policy on Disruption is in turn specified in 3.3.4.4. as an “exten[sion] [of a] term.”  What the Senate Policy on Disruption actually describes is not a resumption of classes while a disruption is ongoing, but rather an extension of a term after a disruption is at an end.  The result of such selective attention to the Policy can only be disorder and chaos since no unified body of students, TAs and professors will be returning to their classes under this directive.

During Monday’’s Senate meeting, one Senator represented the Senate Executive’s actions as  “mandate creep” to describe how the Senate Executive has exceeded its powers in this matter.  The notion of “mandate creep” influenced the decision by 24 Senators to call for a special Senate meeting on Thursday (19 March) to vote on the schedule of class resumptions outlined by the Senate Executive.

Jody Berland

Ricardo Grinspun

Marcia Macaulay

Deborah Orr

Endorsed By:

Gabal Abdel-Shehid

Sabah Alnasseri

Pat Armstrong

Alieza Asgharzadeh

Paul Baxter

Aime Avolonto

Ibrahim Badr

Harjeet Badwell

Ranu Basu

Dawn Bazely

Shannon Bell

Yvette Benayoun-Szmidt

Georges Berube

Malcolm Blincow (retired)

Philippe Bourdin

Rob Bowman

Deborah Brock

Mauro Buccheri

Donald Burke

Mora Campbell

Sheila Cavanagh

James Check

Chris Chapman

Lily Cho

Sylwia Chrostowska

Matthew Clark

Tom Cohen

Diana Cooper-Clark

Marc Couroux

Peter Cumming

Jennifer E. Dalton

Raju Das

Mary Catherine Davidson

Megan Davis

Nancy Davis Halifax

William Denton

Susan Driver

Lisa Drummond

Secil Erdogan Ertorer

Barbara Evans

Stephen Ford

Honor Ford-Smith

Gail Fraser

Walter Giesbrecht

Liette Gilbert

Vinod Goel

Terry Goldie

Aviva Goldberg

Luin Goldring

Ted Goossen

John Greyson

Shubhra Gururani

Ratiba Hadj-Moussa

Jan Hadlaw

Sharon Hayashi

Judy Hellman

Steve Hellman

Jin Hiritaworm

Philip Hoffman

Teresa Holmes

Asher Horowitz

Pablo Idahosa

Susan Ingram

William Jenkins

Cameron Johnston

Jan Kainer

Ilan Kapor

Eva Karpinski

Ali Kazimi

Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston

Joseph Keeping

Gerald Kernerman

Stephen Kipfer

Ildiko Kovacs

Sailaja Krishnamurti

Fuyuki Kurasawa

James Laxer

Yam Lau

Suzanne Langlois

Nick Lary (retired)

Becky Lee

Louis Lefeber (retired)

Ute Lehrer

Joel Lexchin

Rodney Loeppky

Ken Little

Radhika Mongia

Georges Moyal

Carla Lipsig-Mumme

Brenda Longfellow

Teresa Macias

Robert MacDermid

Terry Maley

Janine Marchessault

Sarah Maiter

Ian Martin

Atduko Matsuoka

Alina Marquez

Willem Mass

John McCullough

Patricia McDermott

Gillian McGillivray

Wendy McKeen

David McNab

David McNally

Jacinthe Michaud

Esteve Morera

Arun P. Mukherjee

Karen Murray

Natasha Myers

Anne O’Connell

Andrea O’Reilly

Michael Ornstein

Laurence Packer

Viviana Patroni

Mark Peacock

Linda Peake

Ellie Perkins

Roberto Perin

Nalini Persram

Kelly Pike

Sergei Plekhanov

Dennis Pilon

Carolyn Podruchny

Justin Podur

Norene Pupo

Indhu Rajagopal

Esther Raventos-Pons

Geoffrey Reaume

Markus Reisenleitner

Nick Rogers

Wade Rowland

  1. Anders Sandberg

Cate Sandilands

John Saul (retired)

Victor Shea

Joel Shore

Adrian Shubert

Brian Singe

David Spring

Glen Stalker

Jennifer A. Stephen

Martha Stiegman

Mark Thomas

David Trotman

Rob Tordoff

Stanley Tweyman

Dorin Uritescu

Peter Vandergeest

Gail Vanstone

Colleen Wagner

Philip Walsh

Gerda Wekerle

Andy Weaver

Sandra Whitworth

David Wiesenthal

Ted Winslow

Howard Wiseman

Renita Wong

Kevin Yates

Douglas Young

Lelia Young

Anna Zalik

Michael Zryd

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