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When it comes to the power that be, we are their limiting power

At the direction of the UNB administration, Eddy Campbell’s senior administrators recently underwent a quality assurance review. Performing the review was the Senior Administration Responsibility Review Committee (SARR). The committee was chaired by Dr. Peter MacKinnon who, notably, is one of the architects of University of Saskatchewan’s ultimately perilous neo-liberal agenda, TransformUS.

SARR was restricted to three questions as their terms of reference. Basically, those questions were: 1) Do the titles of senior administrators articulate their responsibilities? 2) Is the administration structured to best balance resources and teaching and research? And 3) Would changes in administrative responsibilities and titles benefit the UNBSJ/UNBF relationship?

The report quickly and blatantly states that in their review they “were not asked to evaluate job performance.” So, all said, the report’s terms of reference, which would have been handed down by the Eddy Administration, isn’t so concerned with how administrators are doing at their job, but if their job needs changing.

The report goes on to offer 16 recommendations. These range from renaming the VP Saint John to the Principal of UNBSJ, better processes and consultation in creating annual budgets, and various other title and responsibility changes which might hopefully mend what is viewed to be a ruptured relationship between UNBSJ and UNBF.

While much could be said about the formal recommendations, more worrying is the suggestions made which extended beyond SARR’s terms of reference. Basically, at some points, the committee steps outside the borders given to them to make substantial and honest suggestions on problems at our university. The report at one point maintains that “Academic priorities must, of course, drive the budget process.” The committee wouldn’t be making such a remark if they had seen a budget process that in fact is driven by academic priorities.

I can’t surmise about what the committee had in mind with this line. However, I can question how much of our budget is driven by academic priorities instead of profit priorities in comparison to pre-Eddy UNB budgets. There are the ever-decreasing faculty positions, the increase in adjunct positions to save money, and the bloating administrative hiring. In my own department, English, graduate students were once able to take a class at UNBSJ and transportation was provided by the University. While such cross-campus efforts as this have the potential to working towards a better bi-campus relationship, the program was cut.

Most striking is the report’s insistence that the University Management Committee is not in fact a management committee, “but there exists perception that it is, and that its membership may not be optimally constituted to exercise managerial duties.” What’s the UMC? Well, it’s sort of like the Illuminati of UNB. UNB’s site swiftly defines the UMC as “compromised [sic] of the President, the Vice-Presidents, the University Secretary, and the Executive Assistant to the President. This Committee exists to advise the President on the issues of today and tomorrow, and meets weekly, as time permits.”

Fun fact: one definition of “compromise” is to “accept standards that are lower than is desirable.” Another fun fact: I am an English student available to do proofreading only if I can have the title of President of Words. I also insist on a car, a house and a corner office.

So, basically, the UMC is the most exclusive club on campus and the tiny body on campus that advises our president. I can see it now: no, no Eddy, go for the silk shirt, peasants wear cotton.

It’s also the worst named committee on campus. It’s a management committee that is in fact not a management committee. Take a moment to let that sink in. It’s worse than Republicans naming bills. The one name for the committee they couldn’t use, they used.

And this is the crew often running our university. The Board of Governors and Senates are literally less exclusive than the UMC. That’s a high calling, to be more elite than the Board of Governors. As far as I can tell, unless you’re a student representative, you have to have donated the equivalent of NB’s debt to the university and have the last name Irving, Campbell, Currie, McCain or Ganong to get a seat at that table.

All said, our president is run by a committee who isn’t able to aptly name its own committee; a review committee came in and made a review and saw severe enough problems that they left their terms of reference to comment on their problems, and we all still have no clue who Eddy really is. I mean, at the very least Eddy, what’s your favourite colour?

While I lament the severe difficulties at UNB, we are also on the brink of again realizing our full potential. I’ve said it before: when it comes to the power that be, we are their limiting power. So student body, faculty, let’s start limiting.

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