On an annual basis, the University of Guelph hasdemonstrated its commitment to providing students withopportunities to be involved in the decision makingprocess at various levels of this institution. Accordingly,there is at least one student representative on mostcommittees facilitated by the University. Although thewillingness to incorporate student opinion into thedecisions that the University makes is encouraging,students feel disconnected from the Board of Governors.For example, early on in the Winter 2012 semester, theCentral Student Association tabled in the UniversityCentre Courtyard to test their peers on their knowledgeabout the governance structure at this institution. Fromconducting this simple survey, it became abundantly clear that most students do not know what the Board of Governors is, its responsibilities, and most are unaware of the opportunity to connect with their (student)representatives on the Board of Governors, or that theythemselves, can run for election.
Increase the number of elected studentrepresentatives.
Guelph has a well-known and respected reputation for student engagement and has been a forerunner in thisfield in terms of student representation on all levels of committees. Therefore, it is time to see a larger studentvoice on the Board of Governors. As the Board of Governors, along with Senate, is the highest governingbody in a bi-cameral system at the University of Guelph,we believe an increase in student voice on this board isnecessary. An increase in students would allow for a morediverse representation of the student body to sit on theBoard of Governors, as well as increase studentparticipation and engagement. If more students are ableto sit on the Board of Governors this will only increase thepromotion of such things as elections, processes, andactions. Therefore, we recommend that the Board of Governors increase the number of student seats byadding two additional undergraduate student seats for atotal of four, and one additional graduate student seat for a total of two.
Implement accountability measures within theresponsibilities of the Board of Governors to ensuregreater accountability to the University of Guelphcommunity.
In any given year, the general student is not connected to(and often has no knowledge of) the Board of Governors,and their student representatives on said board. We,therefore, recommend that the Board of Governors, as awhole, should be encouraged to actively inform and solicitfeedback from all University of Guelph stakeholdersduring their term. Although pledging one’s time to beinvolved with any committee, board, or organizationrequires a large commitment and is often done so as avolunteer, there must be a clear succinct way of informingthe community of the proceedings of the Board. Here aresome ideas:
Distributing a semester report outlining a summaryof decisions and public conversations within theBoard of Governors.
Holding public forums once a semester.
Presenting and/or providing updates at StudentExecutive Council.
Letters to the Ontarion/ an information column.
A blog post about each meeting.
A Facebook page.
Create annual performance evaluations for theBoard of Governors that can be made public to theUniversity of Guelph Community.
A CSA ex-officio seat on the Board of GovernorsBy recommending these options, the CSA does not aim tocreate more work or monopolize the time of the individualdirectors on the Board of Governors; however, we do feelit is important that the Board of Governors has somemechanism by which they are expected to be accountableto the community of which it serves.
Investigate and implement new and creativeways to educate the student population aboutthe Board of Governors and its annual elections.
As the elections process and timing of the Board of Governors has not been the high profile event of late,most students are unaware of it occurring. Studentstherefore are not running in the Board of Governorselection, or voting. If this process was communicated andadvertised further in advance of the elections occurring,more students may run for these positions. Furthermore,if more students are running, there will be an increase inawareness and interest for these elections. It is in thebest interest of the University—and by extension, theBoard of Governors—to develop a communicationsstrategy to promote the Board of Governors, which willultimately ensure there is a greater level of democracyand accountability within the highest decision makingbody at the University of Guelph.
Most students do not know what theBoard of Governors is, itsresponsibilities, and most are unawareof the opportunity to connect with their(student) representatives on the Boardof Governors, or that they, themselves,can run for election.
Board of Governors Accountability & Representation
A C C E S S T O E D U C A T I O N