The Numbers Aren’t Adding Up

Board Needs to Bone Up on Math Skills

The current Board of Governors would do well to enroll in an elementary math class before deciding to mess with undergraduates’ representation and membership.

Concordia Interim President Frederick Lowy was interviewed on the CBC podcast Daybreak about the shakeup occurring in the Board with the number of governors being reduced from 40 to 25. “The math gets difficult,” he said, when figuring out how to adjust how many seats go to specific groups on the Board.

Under the proposed changes, undergraduate students would see their share of voting power on the Board reduced from ten per cent to just four per cent. Lowy cited a piece of provincial legislature—Bill 38—as the guiding light in reforming the Board.

But the bill is a contentious piece of legislation deemed undemocratic by the organization of 18 universities and colleges in Quebec, and never passed as law.

When asked if he thought Bill 38 stated that student representation on the Board should come down proportionally, Lowy said, quite clearly, “yes.”

The only problem is that there’s nothing proportional about undergrads losing 60 per cent of their power on the board. If the adjustment were truly proportional, undergrads would be given, instead of just one meagre seat, either two or three seats, raising their power to eight or twelve per cent, respectively.

An interesting figure to think about is that the 35,000-plus undergraduates will now have the same share of seats as the 7,000-plus graduate students. Do those numbers really add up in your head, Dr. Lowy?

Faculty members on the Board, on the other hand, will see their share of voting power skyrocket from 15 per cent to 24 per cent. It is unclear why students and faculty are being treated so differently.

Before the Board rushes to pass the sweeping reforms currently before them, adjustments need to be made to fix the inequities in the proposed distribution of power.

It wouldn’t be that hard to solve this: two seats could be taken from faculty, bringing their share of power to almost exactly what it was before, and given to the undergrads—taking into account the simple fact that they represent over 35,000 people, more than any other group on the Board.