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Mystery surrounding UNB law debacle unacceptable

President Eddy Campbell’s greatest contribution to UNB, thus far, is implementing a tradition where at the outset of every winter semester the university goes entirely bat-shit crazy.

Last year it was a strike, this year it’s leaving law students — and the entire university and public to which our institution belongs — out in the cold. What’s happening in the law faculty? I don’t know that anyone has a clue.

Dean of Law Jeremy Levitt is on leave. We know that. It’s not my place to make conjectures on why he took leave from his position after four months. There’s a whole multitude of possibilities.

However, there is a whole arena to question Eddy’s ability to run our university.

The entire situation at our law school is characterized by secrecy, exclusion, and outright denial of a problem. Tony Secco and Eddy held a meeting to inform Law students and faculty on where things stand. That meeting was not open to any media. Why? We know that Law professors have been taking leave, that professors have been shifting around and cancelling classes. Meanwhile, we’re paying a president nearly half a million dollars to not say a damn thing. To say that what’s happening is an “internal” matter.

Sorry to shatter the dream, but UNB law is not some distinct and superior element of our university. It is as much a part of our school as the arts department. As the education department. As the grad school. Sure, graduates from our law school are likely going to make a lot more money and have a lot more power in their lives than lowly English students such as myself. But we’re all students right now

And what’s happening at our law school is a student issue. It’s students getting screwed over. You know who keeps students informed? The Brunswickan. We follow student issues. We keep information flowing to the most vital part of our university. Sure, some of you hate us, and that might be my fault. Even still, we are the tunnel through which information is transported with mitigated bias.

But everyone’s keeping secrets. There’s Eddy, but there’s all the Law Students’ Society. You’d think they were hiding the Holy Grail. I mean, I know lawyers and media are like oil and water. Yet, to get a single word from any law student, much less their own representative society, was like trying to find a lawyer who drives a Kia.

Why am I putting so much of this on Eddy? Well, yes, you’re right. I am not a Campbell fan. I don’t think he’s appropriately equipped to run our university. I think he’s disconnected and gets paid way too much to be so. I think he’s damaged our school in severe and tragic ways.

But I am taking issue with Eddy because the buck stops with him. Because our university has fallen victim to his lack of leadership. If nothing else, when an entire faculty goes awry, it’s his responsibility to keep the university, both students and faculty, informed. Instead, he’s hiding behind closed doors and marketing assistants.

Wait. The list goes on. VP Tony Secco’s to blame too. As VP academic, he’s got faculty relations under his portfolio. I pray that Tony doesn’t list “leader” as a skill on his CV. Sorry man, but offering to buy people coffee every Tuesday just isn’t enough.

How does the matter get resolved? Well, Eddy stepping down would be a start. We’re in dire need of a new day at UNB. The atmosphere on campus is giving me back pains. For now though, a resolution to the issue at hand would begin with openness. With honesty. With the administrative and student bodies treating UNB students like adults. By treating UNB students with respect. Not halfhearted, empty comments and false assurances.

At the end of the day, I think that what’s happening at UNB Law and how it is being dealt with speaks one thing: our president and his cronies lack leadership and it’s spreading. They’ve created the tableau to which other university leaders are expected to conform. Problems are presented and it feels like the university’s leaders shy away.

It’s the nature of the beast, issues arising. I’ve a hard time feeling sympathy for Eddy because the monsters he battles are created of his own volition. Even me and my poor columns are a consequence of Eddy’s poor leadership.

With our law school, there are a number of people to blame, numerous fingers to point. What we need, both at the law faculty and UNB as whole, is strong leadership. Leadership that is doing the push and the pull right alongside the rest of the university. Not hidden in an ivory tower within the ivory tower.

What the law debacle has proven, if nothing else, is that a lack of leadership is contagious. And Eddy’s patient zero.

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