QSERAP: Open Letter II to the “Academic Writing Team” (Professors Adams, Bryant, Chan, Nossal, Scott, and Smol) (16 July 2010)

“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.

Sincerely,

Frank Burke, Mark Jones, Samantha King, Roberta Lamb, and Andrea Phillipson

For Queen’s Students and Employees for Real Academic Planning

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3 Responses to QSERAP: Open Letter II to the “Academic Writing Team” (Professors Adams, Bryant, Chan, Nossal, Scott, and Smol) (16 July 2010)

  1. Roberta Lamb says:

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: Eric Leclerc
    Date: July 19, 2010 11:20:45 AM EDT
    To: DOFENG-L@LISTS.queensu.ca
    Subject: Re: Open Letter II to the “Academic Writing Team”
    Reply-To: Eric Leclerc

    To the Queen’s Students and Employees for Real Academic Planning:

    Thank you for your open letter. We appreciate your concerns and will ensure that they are reflected in our report to the Principal.

    Yours sincerely,

    Michael Adams, Tim Bryant, Yolande Chan, Kim Nossal, Jill Scott and John Smol

  2. Mark Jones says:

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: Kim Richard Nossal
    Subject: Open Letter II to the “Academic Writing Team”
    Date: July 20, 2010 11:22:59 AM EDT
    To: Mark Jones
    Cc: Academic Plan Writing Team
    Reply-To: Kim Richard Nossal

    To the Queen’s Students and Employees for Real Academic Planning:

    Thank you for your open letter. We appreciate your concerns and will ensure that they are reflected in our report to the Principal.

    In the meantime, if you think it would be useful to have a further meeting to discuss the issues raised in your letter, representatives of the AWT would be happy to organize a meeting with your group.

    Finally, please note that we will be posting the minutes of the town hall meeting to the AWT website shortly. As you know, it was not possible to record the proceedings as a result of the last-minute room change, but we are hoping that the minutes will provide some indication of the discussion.

    Thank you again for your input.

    Yours sincerely,

    Michael Adams, Tim Bryant, Yolande Chan, Kim Nossal, Jill Scott, and John Smol
    Academic Writing Team

  3. Mark Jones says:

    Dear Professors Adams, Bryant, Chan, Nossal, Scott, and Smol,

    I write both to thank you for this response, which I have distributed to QSERAP members and posted on our blog, and to decline your invitation, for two reasons. First, with summer schedules, most of our active QSERAP members are in and out of town and it would be hard to find a time when three or even two of us could meet. All of our own communication lately has been by email.

    But the more serious reason is that our intent is really not to set ourselves up as a small consultative group or as representatives for our community; nor is it limited to representing particular substantive planning suggestions. Our intent has been, on the contrary, (1) to critique and change a process that has so far privileged closeted consultation among privileged groups (we note, for instance, that most academic units have still not published their responses to Principal Woolf’s Where Next?) and (2) to urge (and so far as it lies within our means, to establish a medium for) more open participation in which every interested member of the Queen’s community can speak out and be heard by everyone else. The Real Academic Planning Blog is still in development, but we hope that it will soon furnish that medium so that no one has to speak for others or let others speak for them. Given these priorities, we fear that it would send the wrong message to meet as a small representative group of students and employees to advise the “Academic Writing Team.”

    That said, we do hope to continue our dialogue with you in open print, and to that end we hope that you will respond to our written pieces, if you please, in writing. We will be happy to post, for the Real Academic Planning Blog is open to all points of view.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Jones, for QSERAP

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