“a genuine academic plan needs to be constructed
by the whole community from the ground up”
(Open Letter I, 28 May 2010)
Dear Professors Adams, Bryant, Chan, Nossal, Scott, and Smol,
Thank you for holding your first consultative meeting on July 12.
You have been appointed by the Principal to gather and represent our views on a matter that profoundly affects us all. That is a sacred trust. Last May in the Queen’s Gazette, you openly claimed to “represent the Queen’s community – students, staff, faculty”—and promised that you would be “here to listen” and would “use every possible avenue.”
As of mid-July, those that you presume to represent have seen little of you beyond your statement in the May Gazette and the meeting of July 12. Your website (as of this writing) does no more than promise that your “recommendations [to the Principal] will be based on input from academic and non-academic units across the campus” and provide a team photo and an email address. This is not using “every possible avenue.” We urged you in May to consult “in an open and transparent manner involving all parties in both the expression and the listening—e.g., not by . . . emails to an enclosed committee but rather by a blog-style website where all commentary on all sides is visible to all interested parties.” We have even illustrated how easily that might be done (see the Real Academic Planning blog). We are surprised and disappointed to find that you have ignored this reasonable request.
Even at the July 12 meeting, you set a discussion agenda (to discuss Where Next?) that had not been announced in the invitations. As one student observed, an attendance of only 10 students at this meeting, all of them ex officio, suggests that it was not sufficiently announced or well scheduled. And so far you have published no minutes or record of the meeting, though we have posted an account of our own.
We therefore write to urge you again to embrace openness, to be more present, more active, and more transparent in canvassing the views (our views) that you are entrusted to represent. Consulting done in private excites reasonable suspicion: when a committee presumes to “represent” a whole community, how can the community be sure that what the committee recommends is truly representative if the whole body of recommendations and arguments has been sequestered? These issues are all the more sensitive in a process that began with Reports to the Principal that claimed to “synthesize” views of groups who had not yet been consulted. We urge you again to make this process open and transparent. If you claim to represent our views, earn our trust with openness, and do yourselves trust in the efficacy of a free and open public discourse.
Frank Burke, Mark Jones, Samantha King, Roberta Lamb, and Andrea Phillipson
For Queen’s Students and Employees for Real Academic Planning