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Re: Guest Speakers at Senate – E-mail to all Senate Members

March 29, 2011

Date: March 29, 2011
Subject: Guest speakers at Senate
To: Members of the University of Ottawa Senate

Dear Members of Senate,

Last Thursday, March 24, Senate Chairman Allan Rock wrote to all Senate members about having guest speakers at Senate meetings.  Chairman Rock stated that “the Senate does not receive or hear from external deputations at its meetings. There are over 70 members in this assembly which ensures a full range of points of view on any matter.”  Mr. Rock’s e-mail is attached below.

I have some experience with this issue because I was once invited to speak at the Senate before I was a Senate member.  As you will see below, the Chairman’s momentary lapse of memory on this matter can be easily corrected by a review of the Senate’s minutes:

I was invited by the former Sciences graduate student representative, Matthew Mount, to make a brief presentation at the April 2009 meeting.

The video from this meeting is available here, at the end of the clip: LINK

During the discussion about welcoming the invited speaker, Senator Mount pointed to the fact that Chairman Rock had recently invited students to speak at an upcoming Senate meeting.

At the April 2009 meeting, Mr. Rock stated:

“…the Senate, if I may say so, does have the authority over its own process and if someone who’s not a Senator wishes to address us we can decide to hear from them.”

“…if (non-members) ask permission they might, in an orderly way, be permitted to express an obviously strongly held point of view…”

“…(the Chairman’s invitation) was in an effort to redirect the energy of inappropriate protests toward something more reasonable by giving (students) the opportunity to share their ideas following the traditional process.”

“It sounds sensible that we might say to someone who wants to address the Senate that they should first of all provide us with a sense of what their point is, what their purpose is…”

“…we might actually have a vote of the Senate in accordance with its own procedure to allow a non-Senator to address us and express a point of view.”

“We’re trying to find a way to establish a reasonable exchange of views and as was pointed out, to address the concerns of some students who feel that things are awry.  I regard (Matthew Mount’s) effort as having been one in good faith, indeed acting on an idea that the Vice President of Governance and I put on the table ourselves.”

It is also worth noting that the minutes of the April 2009 meeting state that the Senate agreed to hear my presentation:

“Furthermore, a student senator moved to invite a non senator student to come into the room and address the Senate on an unknown subject.  Senators discussed the admissibility of the request and assented to the request. Since the student in question has left, the student senator withdrew his motion.”

The minutes from that meeting are available here: LINK

On March 22, 2011, I submitted a motion for the Senate to reaffirm its commitment to non-discrimination and support of cultural diversity: LINK

The Fulcrum student newspaper has also called for action to protect minority groups on campus: LINK

Dr. Khalid Aba-Alkhail, a medical resident from the Faculty of Medicine, has accepted my invitation to make a brief (3 minute) presentation following my concise (5 minute) presentation of the motion.

Dr. Aba-Alkhail is the spokesperson for the group of three medical residents, whose case I mentioned at the March 7 Senate meeting.  At that meeting, I also read to you from a deeply troubling e-mail sent by the Division of Neurosurgery Chairman, Richard Moulton, to Professor Eve Tsai: LINK

This e-mail is possibly the most disturbing e-mail about student treatment by the administration in the history of the university.  Furthermore, testimony from the Student Appeal Centre director, Mireille Gervais, at a March 9 press conference points to the alarming extent of systemic discrimination occurring on our campus: LINK

I don’t understand the Senate Chair’s new unilaterally imposed position on invited presenters to Senate. This seems opposite to the role of the Chair as a neutral guide of the procedural rules and practices. Therefore, and in light of the grave circumstances, I appeal to you that the Senate accept to hear the evidence and experiences of a group of its students who have been courageous enough to speak out on events that are of concern to all members of the university community.  The presentation would be made by Dr. Khalid Aba-Alkhail alone.

I am confident you will agree that this is a serious matter that cannot be ignored.  Please contact me if you have questions or suggestions on this matter.

I look forward to beginning another year of work at the Senate.  I hope we can address this and future issues openly and with tolerance for the views of students who strongly feel that they have concerns that need to be brought to their Senate.

Joseph Hickey
Graduate student representative to Senate, Sciences section.

* * *

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Cabinet du recteur – Office of the President <>
Date: March 24, 2011
Subject: Prochaine réunion du Sénat – Next meeting of the Senate
To: Members of the University of Ottawa Senate

Chers membres du Sénat,

En prévision de la prochaine réunion du Sénat, je tenais simplement à souligner une question de gouvernance qui, je croyais, avait été clarifiée lors de notre dernière réunion.  Le Sénat n’invite pas de délégations externes à participer à ses délibérations.  Notre assemblée compte plus de 70 membres ce qui assure l’expression d’une gamme complète d’opinions sur les sujets que nous traitons.


Le recteur et vice-chancelier
Allan Rock


Dear Members of the Senate,

In anticipation of the next meeting of the Senate, I simply want to reiterate a governance matter which I thought had been made clear at our last meeting.  The Senate does not receive or hear from external deputations at its meetings.  There are over 70 members in this assembly which ensures a full range of points of view on any matter.


Allan Rock
President and Vice-Chancellor

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