LIVE BLOG: Council January 15

Documents

Agenda

Minutes from December 4

Executive Reports

 

Happy New Year

Welcome back everyone!! COUNCIL, am I right! Woohoo!!

1:34:31 PM. We’re about to begin!

Agenda adopted, minutes approved!

 

Reports

1:36:29 PM. Lianne: Chronicle Herald rally is next Monday, Jan. 23. She’s doing class talks and also everyone come to this rally!!

I have nothing to report!

FG is going to host a science student social night so upper years and first years can mingle and learn from each other! This will be Feb 2 probably.

Curran! VP search interviews happened over the last few weeks (reminder: the candidates for Vice-President are Kyle Fraser and Peter O’Brien).

Riel. Cue cards and cocoa went well back in 2016! He’s planning an event! (OOOOOHHHHH SECRETIVE)

Drew has nothing to report. She has been sleeping.

 

1:39:32 PM

Exec reports (PDFS ABOVE!!)!! Aidan says “happy 2017.”

The Board of Governors is hosting a community forum on Jan 24 at 7pm in Alumni Hall to discuss their work. This is open to the public.

The University is striking a committee to create a sexual assault policy. (Note there’s a typo in Aidan’s report—it should say Committee tasked to create Sexual Assault Policy.) Students interested in sitting on this committee should email Charlotte Kiddell at chairperson@cfs-ns.ca.

VP search is happening. The candidates are Peter O’Brien and Kyle Fraser. This is an internal appointment so the VP has to be chosen from within King’s faculty. They’re coming in to this meeting in a bit!

1:47:41 PM. Brennan!

Uni has posted a RFP for food service!

Society fair round 2 this wednesday 6:30-8 in the Wilson Room!

1:51:23 PM. Zoe!

Special (University) Finance Committee meetings happening about long term planning.

Budget Advisory Committee meeting all term to work out the University’s budget.

Union is bringing forward a referendum question to raise dues, lots of work will happen around that this term. Wording of this question, with an exact amount, will come to the next Council meeting (Jan 29).

1:54:41 PM. Gina!

Gina is holding a letter-writing event on Wed Jan 25 from 1-4pm in the Wardy to try to get Andy Filmore to oppose Kinder Morgan!

CFS-NS Annual General Meeting is happening Jan 21-22.

1:56:28 PM. JS!

JS welcomes us all back. She had a good break!

JS is working on elections this term because her term is ending!

She’s compiled minutes from last year too. This is awesome! I LOVE record-keeping.

Wardroom panel about race and music! This will be in early February.

 

1:58:22 PM. Michaela, our Services and Campaigns Coordinator, is here to report! I’ll put up a PDF very soon!

Michaela has been in the office working on organizational systems for the Union, inventory, answering health plan questions, helping the Executive with reports, etc. Michaela does a lot of things so go check out her written report when I upload it!

 

2:16:44 PM. Jen’s turn! I’m going to upload her report too! When I get it!

Renovations are done but also some things are still messed up like lighting! We switched payroll companies. Debit/credit services are amazing. New local liquor is amazing. Tea is amazing.

The Galley’s 4th birthday is coming up in February! AWESOME! There’s going to be a huge party!

 

Action Items

2:24:23 PM. There’s one funding request, $60 for HOST for a coffee house!

 

2:27:26 PM. And we’re adjourned! We’ll take a break and then I’ll keep live blogging when Kyle Fraser and Peter O’Brien come in!

 

Vice-President Candidates

3:28:55 PM. First up: Kyle Fraser!

Kyle’s introducing himself. He’s been at King’s since 1998 and has been Director of FYP twice. Both times he oversaw unit reviews of FYP and also saw a lot of administrative changes in the program. He’s good at assessment, which is the VP’s role, kind of like a Dean. VP speaks for the President in some cases, and is responsible to the President. Key part of this position is being “in between”—answer to the President but are a member of faculty and have an obligation to them and the academic mission of the College.

VP ensures that the College stays true to its academic mission and the values that follow from that mission. King’s has a feeling of itself as a College, self-governing. This feeling has eroded in the last several years. Students’ concerns about transparency in recent years are shared by faculty—how are decisions being made, what’s going on “at the top”? VP mediates between students and the President/Board, helps to make sure we live up to this collegial ideal.

His interest in the role—which he says is one of service, and may or may not adversely affect his happiness—is to see long-term projects really get going and to repair lines of communication that have broken down. He has a sense of an overall goodwill, but there’s a failure to understand each other and a disconnect about what best practices are. There’s a lack of clarity, this leads to frustration and a sense of alienation.

Zoe asks if he has a stance on open Board meetings. Kyle says he hasn’t thought a lot about it, and he’s not sure how much sway the VP can have in that area. He hasn’t been a member of the Board yet. If there’s nothing to hide, he doesn’t see a reason why it shouldn’t be open.

Riel asks what ideas he has for curricular/academic changes in order to increase enrolment. Kyle says any changes that do happen have to happen in a way that preserves its strengths. FYP is a Eurocentric program, he think it has been honest about this in recent years and this is a strength of the program. In recent years more diversity has been included, other cultures, women authors, etc. These are perennial questions that deserve attention. In FYP, we can only go so far outside of the trajectory of the European tradition without completely changing the program. We can look at other programs, e.g. Simon Kow’s East-West classes. There are misconceptions at Dal about King’s’ place in the larger community, and our relationship with FASS needs to be repaired.

JS asks about diversity, this is relevant in programming but also in terms of people—equity work, etc., she asks what he plans to do to increase racial diversity on campus. Kyle says he understands that the Equity Officer reports to the VP. This is partly a matter of adapting recruitment strategies. We have ties to a lot of Ontario schools, these are profitable for the College. Always been a concern about the proportion of local students to Ontario students. Not enough was done in the heyday of enrolment to take diversity seriously. More has to be done at the level of recruitment. This is a “tricky business”—in terms of the curriculum we offer in FYP, there’s only “so much” we can do to make it more appealing to a diverse student body. Maybe we need to a better job of explaining why this program is good for everyone, even those not from European culture. What does the Eurocentrism in FYP mean? Is it meant to be exclusive or is it productive for something? In CSP there’s a look back and a critical reckoning with FYP’s Eurocentrism, we can do more to foster this move and to emphasize it in recruitment. We’re not doing indoctrination into a European worldview, we’re learning about how we got here.

Brennan asks about tenure-track appointments, some of the best work being done here is being done by those in precarious positions, what will he do about faculty renewal. Kyle says the present reliance on sessionals has been a problem for a long time, there’s a fundamental unfairness here. This comes from a lack of foresight—year to year we’re struggling to meet teaching demands and keep programs afloat. We need a very long-term look at these issues. The current sessional appointments have to be made permanent, in his view. (NICE.) This has to be fixed, he says this might be in the works. Moving forward, we need to start replenishing our tenure-track appointments. This is a matter of getting the money. Our bursary program also needs to be repaired, infrastructure is crumbling, etc. Another possibility is more creative use of the Carnegie appointments. He says there are currently 8 vacant spots here. (!!??) We should convince Dal that we should pursue new joint initiatives with joint staffing. For example, a Carnegie appointment that works half-and-half rather than mostly at Dal.

Zoe points out that we’re in a very difficult financial position, decreasing enrolment, she asks what ways he sees for King’s to work towards financial sustainability in the long term, and if we need to make cuts again in the coming years what are his priorities. Kyle says this is the questions. He says it will not be done through increasing tuition. That’s his personal position. One of the factors of decreasing enrolment is increasing tuition. This is a paradox, this doesn’t work. Faculty were also very happy that the BoG decided not to reset tuition, they were very opposed to this. Faculty in general are of the view that increasing tuition is not the way forward. But he says we are not getting more money from the government, and can’t draw on the endowment very much. He says we need to find efficiencies, create new initiatives, or rethink the way that we are teaching/structuring our programs. Some of our programs have very low enrolments. There are upsides to small classes but they are difficult to maintain in the face of enrolment pressures, we may need to rethink these targets. We may need to reconsider our assumptions about class sizes, students need to have input here. Example: in HOST they are rethinking structure, he’s proposed a new model that gets rid of the core classes. These will be brought out for student consultation. Right now the core classes have less than 10 people in them—this is enjoyable, but not the most efficient use of professors’ time. We need to cautiously rethink things like this, we don’t want huge classes but we need to use our time better.

Pilar asks about retention, what we’ll do to keep students at King’s after FYP? Kyle says this question is tied to creating new opportunities for upper-year students. In FYP sometimes, upper year profs come in and talk about upper year programs and ‘pitch’ them. How far do we want to go thinking of FYP as a ‘feeder’ program to funnel people into upper-year programs? We want FYP to be able to stand alone. Maybe we can do more here though to make the upper-year programs more visible to our first-year students. At the end of the day we can only do “so much” here. We can always do more to consult with students and ask what they want to study.

Gina asks where he sees the role of the administration in advocating for students in government meetings. Kyle says this is mainly the President’s job but the VP can play a role. The VP is sort of the like the conscience of the College, keeping everyone grounded. The VP has a strong role in concert with the President in considering the state of education in the province. They should be strongly advocating for more accessible education. Personally, he thinks education should be more accessible. How this will come about in policy he says is a very complicated very long-term problem. University administrations have a responsibility to start this conversation though.

Drew asks how he views mental health issues on campus in the face of possible upcoming cuts to student services. Kyle says he was also the Associate Director of FYP, dealt directly with students and knows that these concerns are important. In his view there should be no cuts in these areas, he would be surprised and disappointed if that happened. He knows that scheduling at Dal Counselling is ridiculous, he wants to talk to people to work on this. VP needs to look at this whole picture very carefully and make sure that we’re providing services that are necessary. He takes this very seriously.

Kyle’s email is kyle.fraser@ukings.ca, he invites further conversation! As VP he would be very accessible and his door would always be open.

 

4:07:12 PM. P! O! B! (Peter O’Brien)

Peter begins with some words about himself. He spends a lot of time in the FYP classroom. He’s an alumnus of King’s and started out as a Day Student in 1986 in FYP, was later a Don on campus in the early 90s. Went to Boston for hid PhD and taught high school for a while and then got a job at Dal teaching in Classics, then became a Carnegie prof, now joint faculty member of King’s/Dal. He said this was a great opportunity for him, to come back to Halifax and work at King’s. His experience as a joint faculty member conditions his understanding of the role of VP. The way he sees the job is essentially one of mediation and liaison between constituencies at the College. One of the splendours at King’s is the degree of independence it enjoys, which he attributes to the “collegial life” here of students, profs, and admin all interacting together. He foresees a lot of challenges in this role but also opportunities arising out of these. There is a national, continental, global crisis in liberal arts and social sciences education. He can make King’s needs known in FASS and at Dal, and vice versa. We need mutually beneficial and mutually sustaining solutions to these problems. King’s and Dal really need each other right now.

Riel asks about enrolment, whether he sees our academics changing to accommodate this. Peter says he does see these changes happening, and these questions are being asked a lot and must be dealt with. Questions about the placement of our honours programs and the school of journalism (re: Dal senate report on Dal/King’s relationship). These questions must be dealt with head on. He’s not in favour of any one solution but definitely wants to discuss them and work out the best solution for everyone.

Peter notes that the position of VP as it’s most recently described is an evolved one, a much more explicitly academic role than it has been in the past. It’s been rationalized a bit so that it can reasonably be done by one person during their term. There’s no explicit scope of student interaction in this new mandate, but he says if it’s mostly academic then it needs to be mostly about students! Student voices must be a part of the mix.

Riel asks if he’s satisfied with the diversity of curricula here. Peter says we have to be aware, in the context of our larger campus, that we can’t do everything. If there are opportunities to develop curricula in directions that will help us in our situations of challenge, those should be put on the table. In terms of the curricula he’s most in touch with (FYP) he’s always been rather “stayed” in his position in terms of where curricula should go, especially in Section 1. He says we have a responsibility to present a “strong, edgy, and workable” curriculum that students can later “blow apart.” He admits he was a “Sappho sceptic” but she was taught very well this year by Eli Diamond and she is probably “here to stay” as a result.

Brennan asks about faculty renewal and tenure-track appointments. Peter says there hasn’t been faculty renewal in Classics in a while either. Hiring contract faculty is cheaper but inherently exploitative. (TRUE.) We have to do what we can to recognize, honour, and provide sustainable employment for these faculty. King’s is in a unique situation because of our collegial nature, faculty get drawn in to participation in this culture and contribute massively. We all know who these people are and what they’ve done. It’s a priority to recognize this and protect these people. It’s also a matter of the bottom line. If there’s no financial room to do this then it’s not likely to happen except on a very limited level. This cannot be forgotten about.

JS asks about people diversity in the faculty and student population, what should King’s be doing to increase racial diversity. Peter says we have to approach this sensitively, proactively, and realistically. There’s been a long-standing desire to improve the ‘look’ of King’s in this regard. We also need to make sure our offerings are attractive to a diverse population. Diversity has to take a special place in this effort. He doesn’t have specific answers but it does need to be talked about.

Gina asks about increasing tuition as a means of revenue, and also the role of the admin advocating for students with the government. Peter says no one wants to see tuition going up. Administrations are stuck in the middle on this, the government’s approach has amounted to a cut. Advocacy has to be part of our communication with the government. At this stage it has to be done in a considered and lively way. We haven’t gained anything by “stamping feet” and this shouldn’t necessarily be the administration’s way of going about this.

Zoe asks about the College’s financial situation, in a deficit, what are King’s’ priorities in relation to budget cuts, how will we maintain our mission, also do you see any long-term solutions. Peter says re: possible solutions, increased enrolment will do it but this is fraught. We are undertaking a capital campaign, this is an opportunity for fundraising. This is also bound up with identity and presentation, we’re presenting the College as something donors should want to invest in. We should tailor this message to present the essence of what we do and the dire need that we have, this might relieve the pressure. In terms of priorities, the academic mission is the priority, we don’t exist if we don’t teach students. (Good point POB.) That’s the first priority. Also, there’s only so long we can defer maintenance, we don’t have a lot of resources. There’s been discussion about the library collections (i.e. selling them), these are really difficult questions. He hopes that just saying that academics are his priority is a beginning for us. We look for efficiencies in our joint operations with Dal, maybe there’s room for restructuring here. The reciprocal financial relationship here has been of concern for a while. There is no single silver bullet here.

Pilar asks about retention beyond FYP. Peter says he was fully planning to FYP-n-dip and then he got sucked in by King’s’ charm. We need to sell the four-year experience in a way that’s attractive. For example we need to bring students here from Ontario and keep them here. He’s from Nova Scotia and was a day student, and we need to exploit this more too, make King’s “enticing,” find a way of selling the academic excellence in a way that doesn’t make it look unattainable to students from the Maritimes. This legwork has already started, lots of it is student-driven, partnerships with students are key to resolving these problems.

Zoe asks if he supports open Board meetings. Peter says it’s a question of dialogue with the Board. He was on the Board once ten years ago and it is very different now. He says it’s a question worth putting on the table. He doesn’t know how vigorously it’s been put on the table in recent years. He doesn’t know whether fully open Board meetings are the solution. We need to create a space where work gets done and decisions get made, this means robust representation. In terms of self-governance, sometimes things can get done behind closed doors that can’t get done with open doors. But he’s willing to engage in the conversation for sure.

Drew asks about mental health, how will he prioritize this, how does he see this issue. Peter says he knows this is an area where services have been completely channelled over to Dal. Inasmuch as this is effective he’s all for it. He says there is more demand for this, there are more services, he’s not sure if it’s adequate or perceived as adequate (HINT: IT’S NOT.) In terms of overall well-being, mental, emotional, spiritual, we have things that bigger institutions don’t. He sees this as an opportunity for us all to “watch each other’s back.” This is no replacement for professional services, but it helps.

 

That’s all! Thanks for reading! Email Pamela Hazel at pamela.hazel@ukings.ca by January 20 with any feedback about the candidates!