Sunday, May 29, 2011

Regents again

Every three years my alma mater, Memorial University of Newfoundland (don't even get me started on dropping Newfoundland from most of the promo products), has the clever idea of allowing six alumi to be elected to the Board of Regents. Now, the Board is the governing body of the university and it has a decent amount of power on deciding how things are going to be run and done at the place. Those six people aren't going to change the world. Most of the 30 members are appointed to the board by the provincial government, so they tend to do whatever those up on The Hill tell them to do. Still, it's a chance for alumni to have a voice and I think it's an important election.

I've run twice - once in 2005 and in 2008. To surprise of pretty much no one, I didn't win. I finished about the middle of the pack each time. I give MUN a lot of shit, but I do love the place, have good memories and the place means a lot. I poke, bitch and complain because you do that to things you love sometimes. And lord knows MUN has needed a swift kick in the ass more than once over the years.

Case in point was the racket that happened around the last alumni election when then Premier Danny Williams and Education Minister Joan Burke blatantly inferred with the selection process for the university's next president. They had no business doing it and, to make matters worse, removed members of the Board of Regents for various reasons before the term. It was, I don't think, ever said in public but if I had to hazard a guess those members disagreed with what the government was doing and, of their troubles, they were removed.

I was pretty pissed with the Regents at that time. At the least they should have all stood up and said "The government doesn't get to decide the next MUN president. There's a process, we're following it so back off." But they didn't because Danny was Danny and it obviously required more balls than most of them possessed to do that. I think they should have resigned on mass, but again, requiring more guts than what was on the Board.

So that annoyed me. The other thing that annoyed me was that the vote totals for those people who ran in the election - and I think there was around 40 - were never revealed. We knew who the top six were. I knew how many votes I got and where I placed. But unlike virtually every other democratic election held in Canada, MUN's Board of Regents alumni election couldn't have the complete vote totals released because it would violate privacy regulations.

Yes, feel free to discreetly cough bullshit over that one.

However, I am pleased to see they've changed the rules on that one. You know what, I'm going to take credit for that one. I had more than one exchange with people at MUN over that, including getting a note from the university president. Not releasing the final totals for all candidates was bullshit and I'm glad to see they've changed that rule.

I thought about running again. But I'm pretty sure I'm going to pass. I've had friends tell me to just let it rest. Which is a fair point. I was pretty annoying (well, more than usual) for a few months back in '98 as MUN was taking up a lot of my time. Plus, the blog was a lot more active then, I had the radical notion of starting up a Facebook page to try and get people to vote for me (CBC interviewed me over the unique strategy). This time everyone is going to have a blog, Facebook page and god help Twitter. God help us all.

Also, I'm going to be out of the country for the last part of the election. So no, not running unless there is a sudden massive groundswell trying to convince me to run. Which I doubt will happen. But I will pay close attention to those who do run. They're important positions and people should be serious about running and what they want to do when they get elected.

Because if you're not going to go in there and fight and make a racket and try and change and improve things, why bother running?

Something those running should think about, at any rate...

Last Five
1. Honey - Best Coast
2. Ask me why - The Beatles
3. 7 - Prince
4. Me and Lazarus - Iron & Wine
5. Tired - Adele*


WJM said...

Yes, feel free to discreetly cough bullshit over that one

I do not feel bound by your condition of discretion.

Doktor Dave said...

I believe they brought in a new rule that specifically forbids campaigning through facebook and other social media. Might be worth a look and a follow-up blog.

Blech said...

If you insist on throwing French words into your commentary, please at least get them right. If you do not speak the language, pretending to do so undermines weight to be given your opinion. So, instead of "on mass", the correct phrase is "en masse". Of course, English has many ways of expressing the same concept. You have a good blog, and your ideas are generally well thought out. However, grammatical gaffes like this can really devalue your credibility.

SRD said...

"The use, by candidates, of social media or on-line networking tools operating by the University
(e.g., listservs, facebook pages) to broadcast or send campaigning messages is not permitted"

Leaving aside the typo, I would read that to mean that you can't use a MUN facebook page or a munlistserv to campaign. But it doesn't seem to imply that you can't set up your own page.

Am relieved that they are not trying to ban social media, but disappointed that if they insist on writing up such legalistic regulations they can't even proof-read them!