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U of O: Who sets the Agenda?

December 27, 2010

Vice-President of Governance, Diane Davidson’s latest Senate motion demonstrates the top-down control by the administration of the university’s highest authority on academic matters.  In this case, Madame Davidson’s motion to have the Executive Committee create a committee to develop the Senate’s rules of procedure supersedes my motion to have the Senate form the committee.   The Executive Committee of the Senate is comprised of 8 administration, 1 faculty, and 0 student representatives.  The relevant e-mail string, with all Members of Senate in Cc follows:


Date: Monday, Dec. 27, 2010
Subject: Re: Motions, Jan. 10 Senate meeting

Dear Diane Davidson,

I strongly feel that the Senate should truly be the governing body on academic matters, as foreseen by the University of Ottawa Act, 1965, not primarily a forum for discussing and approving only agenda items allowed and often engineered by the Executive Committee.

I believe the Senate should play a leadership role in giving voice to proposals arising from a true democratic and collegial process rather than than only be a forum to moderate and improve proposals generated from the top down.

For these reasons, key Senate committees should be formed by Senate (and the members chosen by Senate) following a discussion that allows Senators’ views on the particular committee work to be expressed and questioned, rather than chosen by the Executive Committee.

On December 19, I put forward a motion to form a committee for the Senate’s rules of procedure. You replied with an agenda item to have the committee chosen by the Executive. Your move exactly demonstrates my concern and would have the effect of excluding me from this committee.

During the past semester, I have spearheaded the procedural rules initiative and I have contributed to the surrounding discussion, and therefore I feel that I am a strong candidate for a position on the procedural rules subcommittee.  This is an issue that I have taken to heart, and I have much to contribute in regards to the development of the Senate’s governing procedure: for example, in order to improve the democratic and collegial process at Senate, I believe that an addition to your proposed interim procedural rules should be made that would ensure that all Senate members’ proposed Agenda items are represented fairly on the Senate Agenda and that overlapping or similar proposals are handled fairly.

Such an addition would prevent the situation at hand, where my motion to have the Senate decide the membership of the procedural rules committee has been superseded by your Agenda item that would have the Executive Committee select the members of this committee.


Joseph Hickey
Student representative to Senate, FGPS, Sciences section


Date: Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010
Subject: Règles proposées pour les réunions du Sénat / Proposed Rules for Senate Meetings

Message envoyé au nom de Diane Davidson,  vice-rectrice à la gouvernance / Message sent on behalf of Diane Davidson, Vice-President, Governance

Aux sénateurs et sénatrices / To Senators:

Suite à la réunion du Sénat du 6 décembre 2010 et sous réserve de l’approbation éventuelle de règles permanentes par le Sénat, vous trouverez ci-joint des règles proposées pour régir les débats et le vote selon les principes généraux du Code Morin.

Il est également proposé que le Comité exécutif du Sénat établisse un sous-comité (avec la participation d’un étudiant sénateur) qui sera chargé de faire des recommandations au Sénat sur la mise en place de règles de procédure permanentes pour le déroulement des réunions du Sénat.

Ce sujet sera mis à l’ordre du jour de la prochaine réunion du Sénat prévue pour le 10 janvier 2011.

* * *

Following the Senate meeting of December 6, 2010 and pending approval of permanent rules by the Senate, enclosed are proposed rules with respect to the debates and the voting process in accordance with the general principles contained in the Morin Code.

It is also proposed that the Executive Committee of the Senate create a sub-committee (with the participation of a student senator) to make recommendations to the Senate on the establishment of permanent rules of procedure for Senate proceedings.

This item will be put on the agenda of the next Senate meeting scheduled for January 10, 2011.


Thank you.

Diane Davidson

Vice-rectrice à la gouvernance
Vice-President, Governance


Date: Sun, Dec. 19, 2010
Subject: Motions, Jan. 10 Senate meeting

Dear Madame Davidson and Members of Senate,

I would like to submit the following two motions for the Agenda of the upcoming meeting of the Senate (January 10, 2011).

1) The Senate resolves to form a subcommittee that will make a recommendation on the adoption of procedural rules for Senate.

2) Until the recommendation on the adoption of procedural rules has been made by the appropriate subcommittee of the Senate and voted on at Senate, the Senate will adopt the Code Morin for its meetings.

I have sent this information ahead of time, so that you may prepare any helpful ammendments to these motions.

I would request that the Secretariat inform the Members of Senate by e-mail if there are any similar motions to the above two items and how this situation will be handled, if it arises.


Joseph Hickey
Senator, FGPS, Sciences section

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