The GSA’s Open Letter Regarding the Potential Censure of Carleton University
President Dr. Roseann O’Reilly Runte
Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Peter Ricketts
Vice-President (Research & International) Dr. Rafik A. Goubran
Vice-President (Finance and Administration) Michel Piché
Vice-President (Students and Enrolment) Suzanne Blanchard
Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs Dr. Matthias Neufang
Members of the Carleton University Board of Governors
The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) is extremely concerned about Carleton University’s inaction on the issue of the pending institutional censure by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). The CAUT, a national body representing 70,000 teachers, librarians, researchers, general staff and other academic professionals, will be voting on censure at their National Congress during the first week of May.
This possible censure is the result of the stringent Code of Conduct adopted by the Board of Governors in March 2016, which prohibits elected Governors from discussing Board matters – including issues discussed in open sessions – with the Carleton community.
The Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) contends that the Code of Conduct contravenes its members’ Collective Agreement, which protects academic freedom from institutional interference. The GSA also believes that the Code of Conduct represents an attempt to limit dissent and debate at the highest decision-making body of a publicly funded institution.
In April 2016, GSA Council unanimously passed a motion of non-confidence in Carleton University Senior Administration as a result of the Board’s Code of Conduct and its effect as a gag order on members. CUASA and CUPE Local 2424 also passed motions of non-confidence.
In December, the CAUT gave notice to the Carleton University administration that unless it resolved the issues associated with the Board of Governors Code of Conduct, it would seek a motion to censure Carleton University at its National Congress, taking place May 4-7, 2017.
A censure is an extremely serious sanction with significant effects, including asking CAUT members not to accept appointments or invitations to speak at a censured institution, a freeze on hiring academic staff as vacant positions will not be posted by CAUT (something required in the CUASA collective agreement), and the active shaming of Carleton University in academic communities in Canada and internationally.
A censure would also have direct and immediate impacts on graduate and undergraduate students, including their ability to hold quality conferences on campus and the potential devaluing of their education at Carleton.
We urge Senior Administration and the Board of Governors to amend or repeal the Board of Governors’ Code of Conduct such that it respects academic freedom and dialogue at our publicly funded institution, and thereby avoid the impending censure.
Carleton University Graduate Students’ Association
Local 78, Canadian Federation of Students