Over the years I have been at Brock, I have served on a variety of Senate Committees, although I never had much interest in serving on Senate itself. The deliberations of Senate seemed pretty far from my primary focus on research, teaching, and involvement with the broader community. To be honest, it seemed to me to be kind of a “triple B” Senate – Bureaucratic, Boring, and Beside The Point. I was, however, seriously mistaken.
Important things happen at Senate.
The Brock Act establishes the governance of Brock University as a bicameral system. The Board of Trustees is one of the governing bodies, with responsibility for University management and finances. Senate is the second, with responsibility for determining the educational policy of the University and thus provide academic leadership. In this context, important academic issues are brought to Senators for discussion and decision. For example, issues that are likely to be discussed in the near future include defining minimum enrolments for program viability, the nature of new interdisciplinary institutes and their impact on existing programs, models for e-learning courses, and the implementation of increased spring/summer teaching.
A strong voice by faculty and librarians in Senate is particularly critical at this time in Brock’s development.
Progressive budget reductions have had substantial impacts on our abilities to teach and do our research. Decisions about what to cut, what to maintain, and what to augment are political choices. Academic concerns should be given substantial weight in these decisions and it is through Senate that these academic arguments and rationale for budget decisions must be advanced. Of looming importance, then, will be Senators’ responses to the draft budget that will be presented this spring, as the University engages in a cost/benefit analysis of both academic and non-academic units.
Get involved: Run, Vote, and/or Befriend a Senator.
Consider running for a position on Senate so that you can participate directly in these discussions. There is still time – nominations for next year’s Senate are open until 4:30 pm on March 14th.
Vote in the Senate election, which will be held from March 20th-March 28th. Less than 50% of those eligible voted in last year! And when you vote, BUFA believes it is important to consider supporting individuals who are best able to represent your interests. For example, will your interests be protected better by Senators who are “frontline” faculty and librarians or by administrators such as Associate Deans?
If you aren’t a Senator yourself, you still can have an indirect voice in Senate. Befriend a Senator who will talk with you about Senate issues and “fill in the blanks” that provide context for understanding the Senate agenda and minutes (available on the Senate website). And ask the Senator to bring your views to Senate Committees and to the floor of Senate, either for Senate discussion or as a question for the Administration. Senate is one of the few places that we have a regular opportunity to ask senior administrators direct and specific questions about issues in a public and open setting.
Get engaged in building a bold Senate, which will be strong in fulfilling its mandate to determine educational policy and ensure that our Senate voice is clearly heard by the Board of Trustees, our “sister” governing body.
Linda Rose-Krasnor, BUFA President
March 12, 2013.