ConU Board Under the Microscope

Next BoG Meeting to Be Filmed by Student Gov., Protesters

In the wake of Concordia’s Board of Governors’ refusal to broadcast its own meetings, student-governor A.J. West decided to take matters into his own hands—quite literally.

West is calling for all concerned students and members of the media to bring their own video cameras to film the Feb. 10 meeting, much to the expected chagrin of the camera-shy governors.

“[If security guards try to kick spectators out], then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. They can’t kick us all out of these meetings and they certainly can’t kick me out of these meetings,” said West.

“Worst-case scenario, I will bring a camera and I will sit it on the Board table and I will film it myself.”

Needless to say, the Board of Governors is not impressed with their rogue member.

“Should [the Board’s] decision not be respected, the Board of Governors will take appropriate action to ensure that its duly approved decision is respected,” said Concordia’s senior advisor of external communications, Cléa Desjardins.

Desjardins was unaware of and would not comment on any specific actions the Board may take if faced with a crowd of filming spectators.

West’s call-to-action came after the last Board meeting when governors voted down a motion, introduced by graduate-student representative Erik Chevrier, to broadcast and digitally-archive all meetings.

Chevrier originally introduced four motions he says were drafted in the spirit of increasing transparency on the Board—an issue that Board members had been specifically tasked with improving after a report was released by one of its very own committees.

The report, by the External Governance Review Committee, states that, “Universities are public institutions in that they have a responsibility to serve the broader society. In addition, most Canadian universities are substantially supported by the public purse. University governance processes must, therefore, be transparent in that it should be clear what decisions have been made, by whom, on what basis and why.”

And it is on these grounds that West believes he is justified in ignoring the will of the Board.

“The point is, it’s not about pissing them off. It’s about making the precedent that we’re allowed to film. It’s just a matter of when there is [something controversial happening at a meeting], we want to be able to film it,” said West.

West says that he’s not concerned that there will be any legal repercussions, and he appears to be right in that assumption—at least according to an internal memorandum prepared by Concordia’s legal advisors.

The document states, “That no permission is required in order to film or record individuals in a public space. However, normally, consent is required prior to broadcasting unless the context of the recording is in the public interest.”

It is on this last point that the lawyers were less clear. They say it is arguable either way and undecided as to whether the Board is serving a public interest.

For West, though, the issue is clear-cut: the Board is serving a public interest, he says, because they are funded largely by tax dollars.
“I don’t understand why these people on the Board want to represent this university but they don’t want the students or the faculty or the staff to be able to see how they’re doing it,” he

West has one final message for the governors who will be on the receiving end of his and potentially many other cameras:

“If the governors of this university don’t want to be filmed, then they can leave the boardroom; not only for this meeting—but for each subsequent meeting,” he said.