The UNB Board of Governors voted Thursday against a recommendation to delay the planned restructure of Residential Life staff and the removal of dons.
The recommendation, the result of a motion from the joint board/senate residence committee, asked to keep the residence system and dons in place for another year while research was conducted to provide evidence for why the planned restructure would be beneficial.
However, the Board overturned the recommendation on Thursday. The discussion was part of a closed session of the Board of Governors, so members were not able to disclose anything about what occurred at the meeting to The Brunswickan.
“Due to the fact that the discussion took place in a closed session, we’re not able to discuss what took place or what was said,” said Natasha Ashfield, communications officer at UNB.
Joint board/senate residence committee requested a delay
A motion recommending a delay on the decision about restructuring Residential Life staff passed at a joint board/senate residence committee meeting at the beginning of the month.
The recommendation asked for a delay in the structural changes that would remove dons from the residence system until sufficient evidence for the benefits arising from such a change were provided in a report.
“We’ve just been provided a lot of anecdotal reasons for the change and so the concerns that I brought forward to the committee from dons were, how do we know how this new model will meet our needs, what gaps is it filling that we currently have, what gap is it creating?” said Serena Smith, a don at Tibbits and member of the committee.
The motion read, “Be it resolved that the implementation of the proposed Residence Life Staff Restructuring plan be delayed until a comprehensive staff report outlining the rationale for the change has been produced to the satisfaction of the Joint Board/Senate Residence Committee.”
The motions passed with one opposed and two abstentions. The recommendation was sent to the UNB Board of Governors and the Fredericton senate for further consideration. The UNB Board of Governors rejected the request for a delay.
Restructure announced in February
UNB dons were surprised at an announcement made in February that their positions would be replaced with two more full time Res Life coordinators, bringing it to a total of three, starting next September.
“We’ve been told change has been coming but what we were told is that it would be ‘keep things the same, figure out how this works. Then the next year would be a mixture and then the following year would be coordinators,” Smith said.
“We had asked multiple times over the year if there was going to be any type of change or further developments; and including as late as January we had inquired and they said no. And then in February, they dropped that kind of out of the blue that they were doing [the restructure].”
However, Dean Martin, director of Res Life, said that February was “the earliest they could [give notice].” Don positions are given as one year contracts.
Instead of dons in the residences, each house will have a senior proctor to lead a team of other proctors. The senior proctors will be a point of contact for the three Res Life coordinators, who will divide the residences and certain portfolios between themselves.
According to Martin, the restructure puts UNB residences more in line with models used by other universities.
“This model that we’re switching to is much more common across the country and North America. It’s one that most schools have,” he said.
“Dons are wonderful, I wish we could keep the dons and the [coordinators], but obviously we can’t have our cake and eat it too.”
The restructure isn’t supposed to save the university any money.
With files from Stephanie Sirois