Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Disclaimers, Affiliations, and the Campus Resident

Disclaimers - the tags one sometimes finds at the end of an article that serve connection between author and what ever organizations they may be attached to- are important devices when used effectively. Beyond their more technical application disclaimers can also be used to distance or even discredit an author.  Thus it is very important that disclaimers are used transparently and consistently.

The use of disclaimers in the Campus Resident do not appear to have been consistently applied over time. My own articles, for example, sometimes have a disclaimer and sometimes do not.  Staff articles don't appear to have disclaimers attached to them.  Yet at least one other director always has a disclaimer attached at the end of his articles. It seems to me that the use of disclaimers at the end of any article should be consistent in form and consistent in application throughout the paper and from issue to issue.  

Disclaimers should be minimal and to the point.  For example: “The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UNA.” 

The tone should be formal and not in any way subject to misinterpretation as satire. It would be a good idea to use the same disclaimer with each article.

There is a problem of a too general application of disclaimers – after awhile the paper would be stuffed with disclaimers.  The way to prevent the viral spread of disclaimers within the Campus resident might be to ensure a judicious use of how authors are identified, a clear demarcation between opinion and ‘news article,’ or even a general disclaimer in the masthead on the editorial page.  

Authors have been variously identified in the paper.  I note that at times I have been identified as a UNA Director and at times as a Hawthorn Place resident and sometimes as both. There is much discussion in the public mind these days about how much information should  be provided by an author so that a reader can situate the perspective or opinion.  I think that a UNA director should only be identified as such IF they are writing AS A DIRECTOR.  If a director is writing as a resident then that should be sufficient (and thus not require a disclaimer). 

Official UNA opinions should likely be assigned the by-line “UNA Board.”

Ultimately the careful and consistent use of disclaimers helps a reader be clear about the perspective of the author.  

In the spirit of disclaimation:  The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author  and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of the UNA, UBC, or any other conceivable organization. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9th UNA Board Meeting - Guest tweets by UbysseyNews

I was unable to attend the April 9th UNA Board meeting (out of town on reserach).  But here is the news as tweeted by the other regular campus news source, the Ubyssey News! 

Please note that to read tweets in chronological order you need to scroll to the bottom of this post and then read tweets from the bottom up.

Ubyssey News@UbysseyNews 25m
No, and there was a modest amount of people present during that time (~8)

Any delegations other than Prod? Many people in audience?

Next meeting moved to Wednesday May 15th as the original date 14th coincides with the provincial elections.

March 2013 budget shows a surplus.

Board approves phase 3 of the Emergency Management Plan.

Motion for the Community Volunteer Committee to report back on their planned activities passes.

Motion to approve Terms of Reference for Zero Waste Bylaw Development Committee passes.

Motion to approve a Terms of Reference and to compare board directors' role, compensation etc, to councillors of BC gov passes.

They are passing back the entire motion (C.1) to leave the board spot vacant until September.

Motion to publish Election Schedule Reform discussion paper passes.

All were in favour of the noise bylaw. Only abstention was from new AMS rep Caroline Wong.

Board approves plan to implement UNA Noise Bylaw.

Board passes to refer the motion of the board vacancy back to governance.

Board was going to leave the spot left vacant by Shaohong Wu until UNA elections in September.

Laquian suggests asking for volunteers to sit on board interim. Laquian himself is interested in filling the spot.

Resident and former board member Prod Laquian asks to interject. Feels uncomfortable with board seat vacant until September.

Board member Erika Frank wants to look at options for wireless internet for the residential neighbourhood.

Completion date is September 2013. There are plans for future improvements to East of Wesbrook Mall.

April to August is the construction period for W 16th improvements including East Mall roundabout, signage. Shouldn't impede traffic.

Corridor is between West Mall and East Mall. Goal is to improve safety for pedestrians.

Presentation on the W 16th Ave Corridor Improvements from Campus Planning.

Architects asking for input from sustainability standpoint.

The Community Centre is expected to generate energy that is below most average buildings. Energy target is 160 kWh/m2/yr.

Sustainability initiatives in the centre will include green roof, solar hot water, carbon dioxide monitors, energy displays, etc.

Community centre will include a daycare centre, gym, fitness centre, etc.

Now a presentation on the Wesbrook Place Community Centre.

Richard Alexander presenting a gift to Shaohong Wu for his work with the board. Wu is moving to Richmond.

We're at tonight's meeting in the Old Barn Community Centre.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Norma Rose Point School - the new school @ UBC for kinergarten to grade 8 students.

On April 2nd the Vancouver School Board (VSB) formally approved the naming of the new K-8 school in the UBC area after the well respect Elder, the late Norma Rose Point.  I offer my thanks to her family for agreeing to have Rose’s name placed on this new school and to the school board for taking such an important step forward.

This is good news indeed.  The naming process was initiated by the VSB last fall.  Many suggestions were offered, but at the end of the day the VSB decided to recognize and honour Norma ‘Rose’ Point.

This is an historic moment for the VSB.  Taking this decisive action shows a sea change in administrative values and a growing respect and recognition on the part of educators as to the importance of our Indigenous past AND present in Vancouver and in British Columbia .

I am pleased that this has has taken place and honoured to have had a tiny part in this moment.

Click here for previous posts on this topic. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

First Ever Resignation of UNA Director. What to do: follow democratic process, or act expediently ?

Shaohung Wu recently elected UNA director has had to resign his position.  He and his family are moving out of the UNA areas and thus he is no longer eligible to hold his position as director.  Shaohung’s resignation has precipitated a debate over the appropriate course of action to follow.  This is apparently the first time in the UNA’s history that an elected resident director has resigned mid-term.

The UNA’s bylaws allows that Board to appoint a replacement themselves without consultation or public engagement.  However, I personally have concerns with this provision in the UNA’s bylaws.  I have long maintained that our democratic deficit cannot be solved by expediency.  Thus I have this opposed any direct appointment of a replacement to the board.

I must commend Shaohung on his actions leading up to his resignation.  Realizing that he would no longer be eligible to hold his Director’s position once he moved off campus he consulted with other elected Board members and active community members.  He was advised of the UNA’s bylaw provisions and, working with supportive community members, found and suggested a very able and accomplished replacement. A person that I would be honoured to campaign for if and when they run for elected office to the UNA.  Shaohung’s recommendation was brought to the Standing Committee on Governance (SCG), which I chair.

At the SCG the board discussed the issue and decided that all things being equal it was ultimately best not to appoint the one candidate presented.  At this meeting I suggested that we hold an informal election immediately and that the Board would then appoint the candidate with the highest votes.  I suggested the informal election because the UNA bylaws provide no feasible process for holding a by-election.  At the end of the discussion the SCG ultimately decided in favour of not appointing the recommended replacement and would defer replacing Shaohung until the August election.

Community members who have been lobbying to have a replacement appointed state as their key issue that we have an obligation to fill all of the  resident directors immediately.  Points raseid by several commentators include: (1) appointing a replacement is consistent with the bylaws (2) the bylaws were democratically voted upon [though I do not beleive this is really accurate since the original bylaws were approved by a UBC appointed committee.  Only bylaws that have subsequently been changed at a formal general meeting can be said to have been democratically approved], (3)  what is explicit in the bylaws constrains the UNA -thus we can't hold an informal election, and (4)  we have an obligation to keep all of the resident director’s positions filled.

The idea of a speedy informal election has been rejected.  In it’s place some community members propose the board advertises in the Campus Resident for volunteers for a temporary UNA Director position. Each applicant would submit a resume.  The UNA Board would interview the applicants. The board would select one of these people and appoint them. 

If we were merely a community association or a recreational club or a non-profit society of some sort then I would have little concern with what is being proposed.  However, the UNA purports to be a governance body based on democratic principles.  Several of the elected resident directors have run and been elected on platforms that are critical of our current democratic deficit.  Resorting to a process whereby the current Board appoints our own hand picked candidate, no matter how accomplished or competent that individual is, strikes me as a backward step on the road to real democracy in our community.

I have been sent many pages of rational and detailed explanations for why appointing someone is not anti-democratic.  They boil down to three basic arguments: (1) the bylaws say we can do it (2) that Metro Vancouver can appoint a replacement Electoral Area A director, and (3) that residents want all resident director positions filled.  Aside from point 1 none of the other arguments, in my opinion, actually addresses the issue of democratic practice.

Ultimately I feel that the greater good is represented and respected by honouring principles of democratic practice.  In four months we will be holding elections for three new resident directors.  In the space between then and now there might be three meetings of the UNA Board.   Is there really an urgent matter now that compels us to appoint a person to the board rather than waiting to hold a fair and open election in August? I don’t think so.  But if I’m wrong and there is a serious matter that would compel us to set aside democratic practices, let me know and I’ll endeavor to be as expedient as the next director.