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Engineering faculty demands longer consultation period for UNB Act revisions

More controversy surrounding the UNB Act revisions has arisen after the Engineering Faculty Council passed a motion to have public consultation extended from six weeks to six months last Wednesday.

The UNB Act is a piece of legislation that outlines the university’s structure and how it operates. A complete revision of the Act was started in February 2013 under the UNB Act Review Steering Committee and drafts of the revisions were published for public feedback on Sept. 30 of this year.

But faculty members are unhappy with the timeframe allotted to the public consultation period — so much so that the Engineering Faculty Council passed a motion to extend the time period last Wednesday.

“We decided that we needed more time, so that was the idea of the motion. We basically agreed as a faculty that we needed more time, so we suggested six months instead of six weeks,” said Marcelo Santos, a geodesy and geomatics engineering professor who brought the motion forward.

The motion was passed unanimously. Santos said that the engineering faculty is not the only group on campus who is unhappy with the revision process.

“I have been talking to people and there is widespread discontent with the process under which the UNB Act has been revised and also discontent with the six weeks deadline,” he said.

The six-week feedback period is only a part of the public consultation process, which comprises a six-week period of email response, followed by a revision stage by the steering committee. Further consultations via Town Hall sessions are scheduled to be opened to the public in January 2015.

Roxanne Fairweather, chair of the steering committee, said in a written statement that all feedback including the requests for more time will be taken into consideration.

“There has been feedback from a few corners that more time is needed to review the draft Act and supporting documents before submitting comments,” she said.

“I am pleased that members of the university community are engaged in this process. I am planning to take this advice to the UNB Act Review Steering Committee.  As soon as the committee has had a chance to discuss the timelines, we will provide an update to the Senates, the Board and the university community.”

The dissatisfaction with the consultation timeframe is not the first issue to arise out of the UNB Act revisions. Faculty have raised concerns in the past about how long it took the committee to draft the revisions, which up until they were released to the public were largely kept from the public.

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