U of O Watch mission, in the words of Foucault...

"One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." -- Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

U of O Watch mission, in the words of Socrates...

"An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all." -- Socrates

video of president allan rock at work

Monday, March 7, 2011

Report on today's university Senate meeting::: Academic boycott of Israel

The University of Ottawa Allan Rock administration behaves differently when it knows it is being watched.

At recent university senate meetings, student senator Joseph Hickey - a lone voice for actual collegial governance - has been railroaded by president Allan Rock and his cronies using everything from "you did not submit your motion on time even if we don't specify the time" to "we don't have procedural rules Mr. Hickey because the Chair decides" to "it's a 'consensus' decision Mr. Hickey when the Chair moves on to the next item and there are no objections", etc.

But when a matter is media worthy and there are numerous observers present Allan Rock (aka Chair of Senate) has learned to make a special effort to behave.

This was the case today with Hickey's motion to examine the circumstances under which an academic exchange program with Israel was created without due consideration by Senate.

Quite a shady matter that has been reported on Hickey's blog about Senate: HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. (And see several UofOWatch reports HERE.)

As a result of potential media attention, Rock decided to "allow" presentation of Hickey's motion. This meant that Rock decided to bite the bullet and let Hickey make his point, on the record and on senate video camera for the World to see (although no other cameras were allowed, under some perverse logic having to do with Senators 'owning' their images?).

[As an aside, Rock's new approach to 'allowing' discourse is consistent with the Israel Lobby's newly evident public relations approach to mostly not be their usual visceral and over-the-top selves slinging anti-Semitism accusations in all directions, banning student posters, closing down speaker events, etc., and attacking everything that moves in colourful opinion columns... The media contacted Hickey but only to gauge any hint of language that could be characterized as anti-Israel and then predictably did not run any stories... The Israel Lobby has come to understand that to appear nutty does not help one's image and that the best policy is media silence unless anti-Semitism can be alleged without exposure to a defamation lawsuit.]

And what the World saw at Senate today is a very unhappy Allan Rock, full of procedural meanness and procedural discrimination against Hickey. Here is a list of some of Rock's dirty tricks of today:

  • Rock insisted that Hickey make his presentation before Hickey's supporting documents would be distributed to senators. Hickey stood his ground and the documents were reluctantly distributed.
  • Rock insisted that Hickey submit his motion and find a seconder before Hickey would be allowed to make his presentation, contrary to practice and to the example of the previous senate meeting that Hickey cited - no matter Rock had his way.
  • Rock refused to allow Hickey's guest speakers to the motion despite Hickey's duly submitted speakers' list and Rock having not opposed the invitations in any way for several weeks.
  • Rock pontificated that "only senators have a right to address Senate", whereas it is common practice (and certainly legal!) for Senate to invite experts to address Senate who do not have a statutory right to address senate. ["You can't enter because only the owner and tenants have a right to enter"... paaalease...]
  • Rock also initially claimed to have informed speakers that they could not speak since he had explicitly rejected a group that had not been invited by Hickey. Rock insisted at first but then dropped this ludicrous position after the invited guests present stated that they had not been uninvited. [This behaviour is at best juvenile - come-on Mr. Rock...]
  • Consequently, Senate was forced by Rock to hear Hickey read guest speaker (representative of Independent Jewish Voices) Diana Ralph's speaking notes rather than hear Diana Ralph herself who had arranged to be present - a vile act of disrespect by Rock that Senate as a body did not challenge.
  • When challenged about the political motive for the new exchange program with Israel, Rock vehemently expressed that he did not go to Israel in 2008 and that he has never been to Haifa. To which Hickey responded that unless the media was completely out to lunch, some other University of Ottawa president, such as Gilles Patry, must have gone to Israel in 2008 to create the exchange - to which Rock responded with an open mouth.
  • When came time to vote on the four separate components of Hickey's motion, Rock would hastily declare "defeated" without giving time for the votes to be properly counted and reported or even to establish if quorum was reached: Defeated! Defeated! Defeated! ... [not a happy camper we guess] [The motions were defeated and that is a sad and pathetic result, especially given Hickey's reasoned presentation.]
  • Rock did not thank Hickey for his hard work and earnest effort, as is the protocol and practice. Rock simply impolitely rushed to the next item, for which he profusely thanked the presenter. [Again, how juvenile is that?]

The word "creep" comes to mind.

There were other gems during the meeting:

Graduate school dean and physicist Gary Slater (a bright light and a former 'researcher of the year') explained that his legal research had led him to the conclusion that the Senate did not need to delegate its authority to the Executive Committee but that all decisions were automatically by default of the purview of the Executive Committee. So that the on-going university archives search to identify the senate motion that delegated this authority for this type of exchange program was in fact in vain and that there would naturally not be such a motion...

Okeeeey. Thank you for that little insight Mr. Slater. Now read the University of Ottawa Act, 1965, and be educated.

And here is a nice one: Dean of law Bruce Feldthusen proclaimed that (despite the large amount of money involved, and despite the university's administrative Policy 112) there was no signed agreement (contract) between the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation and the University of Ottawa regarding the new scholarship program.

What the fuck. Let's just make it up, shall we? Like we make up press releases HERE.

Rock's cronies are disrespectful of Senate, just as senators are disrespectful of themselves by allowing Rock to make a mockery of the institution and of collegial governance. Does there need to be a "senate school" for senators? Read the Act and act accordingly.

1 comment:

Ian Bron said...

I have been watching the debacle at the University of Ottawa unfold for some time. It is truly amazing that the kind of behaviour you describe here - which is adolescent at best - is allowed to continue. The most generous spin I can think of is that the university's administration and faculty must be so frightened of Mr. Rock that they don't dare object. Cowardice, however, is not an acceptable excuse - and silence in the face of such abuses is the moral equivalent of lying.

As an outsider, it's difficult for me - or my organization - to do much more that draw people's attention to this fiasco and encourage them to stop making donations until Rock is removed.

Ian Bron
Canadians for Accountability