'Students push back against proposed changes to governing council at York University'

TORONTO, Feb. 22, 2016 /CNW/ - In a rare rebuke to university administrators, graduate students at York University led an opposition to narrowly defeat a motion put forth by the governing council of the Faculty of Graduate Studies to reduce the number of seats allocated to graduate students on the council. The proposed motion, tabled and defeated on February 04, would have also changed the way graduate students would be elected to the council by removing the authority of democratically elected student-governing bodies to hold elections to appoint representatives to the council. Under the proposed plan, the number of student representatives on the council would have become proportional to enrollment data, whereas non-student seats would remain fixed. "The proposed changes would have served to limit student influence over rules and procedures governing graduate studies at York university" said Mina Rajabi Paak, Vice President of the York University Graduate Students' Association.

"The restructuring of university governing councils is an emerging trend on a number of campuses across Ontario" added Michael Bueckert, Chair of the Ontario Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario and President of Graduate Students' Association at Carleton University. Last year, the Board of Governors at Carleton University revised its board confidentiality agreement to forbid all governors from commenting publicly about board business. This policy was implemented despite opposition from students, faculty and non-academic staff, who have condemned the change as a "gag order" that prevents governors from freely communicating with the people who elected them.

"These cases are reflective of a rise in secrecy and closed-door decision-making on campuses across Ontario" said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Students, faculty and community members have a right to know about the important decisions being made by their institutions, especially when it comes to tuition and the working conditions at their institutions."

Although graduate students at York University successfully opposed attempts to reduce their representation on the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council, there has since been indication that York University is looking to re-examine the outcome of the vote. Since the February 04 meeting, representatives from the York University Graduate Students' Association have been invited to meet with representatives from the Faculty of Graduate Studies to review the defeated proposal. "We sincerely hope that the York University Senate is not going to attempt to over-turn the democratic decision made at the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council" said Paak.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

For further information: Mina Rajabi Paak, Vice-President Gender Issues, York University Graduate Students' Association at 647-546-2523, e: gender@yugsa.ca; Michael Bueckert, Chair, Ontario Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario at 613-315-7947, e: pres@gsacarleton.ca

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