Reinstate Open Board Meetings at Dalhousie
It has been a year now since the COVID-19 pandemic moved Dalhousie Board of Governors meetings online. During this time Board meetings have been closed to the public, including the wider student body. It has continued to be argued that virtual Board meetings remain closed to Board members because of the inability to regulate participation and voting within the meeting space. However, as per the By-laws of the Dalhousie Board of Governors, Board meetings are mandated to be open to the public.
The By-laws of the Board of Governors states in section 6.3 that subject to in-camera sessions wherein confidential matters are being discussed, “all meetings of the Board normally shall be open to the public and no person shall be excluded therefrom except for improper conduct provided, however, that admission to persons who are not Members or resource persons will be on a first come, first admitted basis subject to the limitations of available space.”
In other words, the binding governing documents of the Board mandate meetings to be open to the public except in the case of in-camera sessions or improper conduct, and subject to the limitations of available space.
Thus far the Board has shown no indication of looking into potential solutions to this issue, during a pandemic in which transparency is of utmost importance. A solution must be found to make virtual Board meetings open to the public and to students, as they are intended and mandated to be.
We, the undersigned, are calling on the Dalhousie Board of Governors to:
- Develop protocol for holding virtual Board meetings which are open to the public, as is consistent with the Board’s By-laws
- Commit to implementing this protocol for the next Board meeting on April 20th
Dalhousie is currently able to host meetings using Microsoft Teams Live. Using this platform, the Board would be able to limit participation and voting to Board members only while making the meeting proceedings accessible to the public for live viewing. In-camera sessions, likewise, could be easily conducted by ending the public portion of the meeting. At the very least, on and off-campus media (including the Dalhousie Gazette) should be invited to attend and report live on the proceedings. Board meetings must be open to the public, including the media and the student body, to be as transparent as possible with regards to decision-making.
We know that making virtual Board meetings open to the public is not an impossibility; rather, the Board must commit to looking for and implementing solutions in this time of virtual meetings. Students are calling on the Dalhousie Board of Governors to uphold its By-laws and ensure that all future virtual Board meetings are open to the public.