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Sophistry at the Highest Level: Diane Davidson’s Cancellation of UofO Senate

March 16, 2012


March 16, 2012
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Canada

Diane Davidson
Vice-President of Governance

Re: UofO Senate Procedural Rights Violation must be Repaired Immediately

Ms. Davidson,

Your response of this evening (below) re: your unilateral cancellation of the March 26 meeting of the University of Ottawa Senate is deeply disturbing in multiple ways.  Such sophistry is not what one would expect from the procedural overseer of a University Senate.

You have chosen to use a Judge’s ruling that is currently under appeal to deny a Motion submitted by Senator Hazel Gashoka and I which urgently must be heard by the Senate before the Leave to Appeal of this same ruling takes place on March 28.  Our Senate Motion was submitted for the Agenda of the March 26 meeting of the Senate.  (Leave to Appeal documentation is under the title Motion-9, here.)

What is more, you have entirely overlooked the Civil Liberties Association of the National Capital Region’s public statement of March 12, 2012 supporting public access to cross-examinations in the case, which include Mr. Rock’s cross-examination over allegations of improper use of university funds.  (See: here)

Your response is even more difficult to understand due to the fact that our Motion calls for the Senate to take a favourable position towards transparency in the President’s and the Chairman of the Board of Governor’s cross-examinations, a position that would in no way be invalidated by the Judge’s ruling that you cite, since the Judge’s ruling is only needed in the event that the parties to the case do not agree to allow public observation of the President’s cross-examination.

Beyond the incredible stance you have taken about our Motion on University Transparency, in disallowing our Motion and cancelling the Senate’s meeting you have committed a violation of our procedural rights as Senators that is so grave that it cannot be treated in any manner but with immediate and sincere reparation in the full and open forum of the Senate’s meeting.

It follows that I must submit the following Motion on Procedural Rights of Senators to be heard with highest priority at the Senate’s meeting of March 26, 2012:

* * *

Motion on Procedural Rights of Senators

Whereas on March 14, 2012, the Office of the Vice-President of Governance, Diane Davidson unilaterally cancelled a Meeting of the Senate (March 26, 2012) on the grounds of there being a lack of submitted Agenda items, and;

Whereas this cancellation notice was sent to all Members of Senate before the deadline to submit motions to the March 26 Senate Agenda, and;

Whereas a “Motion on University Transparency in Relation to Questions of Academic Freedom and Racial Discrimination” was submitted by Senators Joseph Hickey and Hazel Gashoka before the deadline to submit motions to the March 26 Senate Agenda, and;

Whereas Ms. Davidson was informed upon its submission that this Motion on University Transparency was urgent and was required to be heard by Senate at its March 26 meeting and no later, and;

Whereas Ms. Davidson sent a response to Senate members at 5:24 p.m. on Friday, March 16 which maintained cancellation of the March 26 Senate meeting, and;

Whereas Ms. Davidson’s response of March 16 incorrectly and improperly used a Judge’s ruling to invalidate the submitted Motion on University Transparency, and;

Whereas the above actions by Ms. Davidson violated Senator Hickey’s and Senator Gashoka’s procedural rights as Senators to submit motions for deliberation at Senate, and;

Whereas such actions are not befitting of a University Vice-President of Governance and do not instill confidence in the proper functioning and administration of the University Senate,

Therefore be it resolved that the Senate will offer its regrets for the manner in which the March 26 Senate meeting and Senate Agenda were handled, and;

Therefore be it further resolved that the Senate will strike a Procedural Rules Committee with 50% student membership to address matters of procedural fairness.

* * *

I ask that you immediately confirm the scheduling of the March 26 Senate meeting and the placement of the “Motion on Procedural Rights of Senators” and the “Motion on University Transparency in Relation to Questions of Academic Freedom and Racial Discrimination” as the first two items on this meeting’s Agenda.

The strong-arm treatment of students inherent in your decisions in this matter is unacceptable and deeply worrying for the future of our University.  As a proud alumnus and student of the University of Ottawa, I will do everything in my power to ensure that this never happens again.

Joseph Hickey
M.Sc. candidate, Physics, UofO
B.Sc. (Summa Cum Laude, Coop) Hon. Spec. Physics, UofO
Graduate Student Representative to UofO Senate, Sciences section

Cc: Members of Senate, concerned community members, media

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