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Continued: Guest Speakers at Senate

March 30, 2011

Date: March 30, 2011
Subject: Guest Speakers, Senate Meeting
To: allan.rock@uottawa.ca
Cc: Members of Senate, concerned community members, proposed presenters

Dear Members of Senate,

The Chair of Senate has clarified his position about non-member presenters, (see below). Mr. Rock now recognizes that Senate can agree to hear a presenter from the community.

From my informal survey, in all the previous cases in the past where senators invited presenters to provide relevant information on Senate matters the Senate has agreed to this. I don’t understand how this has become a “long-standing practice” or  a “general rule” to the contrary; or the rigid use of “only Senators have a right to address Senate”?

Our actual practice that a Senator advancing a motion can call on a non-member from the community to make a short relevant presentation seems natural to me and well adapted to our diverse community. This is an inclusive and open practice that we should be proud of instead of afraid of.

Individual senators should not be unnecessarily barred from making the best possible and most efficient presentations of their motions. This would be artificial and needlessly limiting. It would not reflect well on Canada’s university to start changing our practice in the wrong direction.

I therefore hope that my presenters will be allowed by the Senate in its wisdom, as has been the case in the past (the unfortunate Haifa motion notwithstanding).

To unilaterally bar a presenter present in the room and only allow the presenter’s words to be read instead is, in my opinion, difficult to justify.

Sincerely,

Joseph Hickey
Graduate student representative to Senate, Sciences section

Cc: Concerned community members and proposed presenters.

* * *

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Allan Rock <Allan.Rock@uottawa.ca>
Date: March 29, 2011
Subject: Senate Meeting
To: Joseph Hickey

Mr. Hickey,

In response to your email:

1.      It is the long-standing practice at Senate meetings that only its duly elected members may make presentations or take part in deliberations.  With 72 members derived from all elements of the academy, administrative staff and the student body, the Senate is well-equipped to debate and determine academic issues that involve the University.

2.      In all procedural matters, the Senate is, of course, master of its own process.  In the past, the Senate has seen fit, in extraordinary circumstances, to depart from its standard practice and to permit a non-member to speak.  Indeed, you were yourself granted that exceptional privilege some time ago (as you pointed out in your last message) so I have assumed throughout that you know that the Senate’s permission is required, and that exceptional circumstances must be made out.

3.      Notwithstanding the Senate’s long-standing practice (of which you are well aware), you have taken it upon yourself on two separate occasions in recent months to invite non-members to speak at meetings of the Senate without obtaining the Senate’s approval or discussing the matter with me as Chair.  You have thereby let the non-members to believe that they have the right to speak and would be given the opportunity to do so.

4.      In those circumstances, I found it necessary to ensure that the non-members you invited to next week’s meeting were aware of the Senate’s general rule.

5.      Please do not read this message as an invitation to engage in a prolonged email exchange on this subject.  The matter can be discussed in the time available at the next Monday’s meeting.

Allan Rock

President and Vice-Chancellor

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