There’s everything from the Business Administration Undergraduate Society to the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship to the Nels Anderson Society. The long list of UNB’s active clubs and societies caters to pretty much any interest, program, or field. Amongst them is the Law Students’ Society, or the LSS, headed by President Lee English.
Started in 1923 to promote the installment of new law courses at UNB with the end goal of establishing a law school, the LSS is described as organizing “activities designed to further collegiality in the school.”
Collegiality is a central concept to the proper running of any organization, but especially the university. It’s also a hugely undermined concept at UNB at the moment.
Collegiality is the relationship between colleagues. That relationship is based in the mutual effort to further a shared goal. For a university, that means each one of us is working to promote, further, and produce knowledge.
Whether you’re in arts, business, nursing, or whatever faculty, we are all working towards that one goal: knowledge. It might be knowledge of literature or the knowledge of chemical engineering, but it’s all knowledge.
Now, the LSS doesn’t appear to care about collegiality. They hope to “further” it, yet I suspect that’s more of a nice line than it is an actuality.
I am, however, more convinced that the LSS just doesn’t understand what collegiality is, that they have an entirely skewed understanding of what it means. And it’s not just the executive of the LSS, but the rank and file body.
First, let’s go through what’s happened. Students showed up at a Student Union meeting. The SU is the body that represents students and overlooks clubs and societies. Law representative Josh Toombs passed a motion that made blatant the SU’s support for a student’s right to speak to the media.
It came out at this council meeting that some law students felt the LSS had been making students feel as though they couldn’t comment on the issues at our law school. That not only was the administration saying it was an internal matter, but law students’ own society was urging students to not comment.
Not long after, one need only browse through Twitter to see Lee English vocalize his disappointment in the Bruns. Following that, law students seemed to think the most dignified thing they could do was rail against the Bruns for trying to tell the rest of the university what the hell was going on in law. Check out some of the conversations on Twitter. Savoury.
And this is why the LSS misunderstands collegiality. They seem to think that law is a separate and superior faculty on campus. Collegiality only matters between law students because they aren’t colleagues with the rest of us. No, no. Other faculties and the students in them on campus are nice fixtures to the university. It’s the law school that is truly substantial.
And really it’s not. It’s not superior to other faculties or disciplines on our campus. It is one of many degrees which can be obtained on our campus. Law isn’t unique in being a faculty of stringent hard work. The rest of us do that, too. I have complete respect for law students. I know some amazing law students. My respect for the law school is exactly the same as my respect for every discipline on campus, though.
The thing is, with the current law fiasco, that every person in this province has a right to know what’s happening. The law school is not a vital cornerstone to UNB that we would crumble without. That’s actually the N.B. population. Sure, most people aren’t all that interested — but they still have the right to know what’s going on.
The Bruns made mistakes. We apologized and corrected them. That’s good journalism — admitting when you’re wrong. Fixing mistakes when you make them.
Sure, the law school can have a private meeting. There’s not a huge problem with that. There are private meetings on campus all the time. But there is an obligation for the law school to communicate to the rest of the university and province what is going on. Instead, we know we have a now absent law dean who has a slew of insane accusations against him, Eddy getting yanked away from media, and the LSS thinking they’re Tony Soprano and his thugs.
President Lee English has an obligation to uphold a sense of collegiality at the student level. It’s what his own society purports to do. Instead, he’s obstructing collegiality, interrupting healthy communication between students. He’s inadvertently supporting bad relationships between students and the organizations that support them on campus.
The LSS thinks good collegiality means exclusion. It means shutting everyone else out and saying things are fine. It’s a classic page from the Eddy handbook to leadership and wealth. English is disappointed in the Bruns? Well, there’s plenty of people disappointed with the LSS.