Notes from the Senate Faculty Caucus Meeting (18 January 2011)

As emailed by Mark Jones to Faculty Senators, 18 January 2011:

Dear Colleagues,

The Senate Faculty Caucus (SFC) met at 9 this morning; discussion focused primarily on SORC’s proposed revisions to “Functions of the Senate” and on the analysis furnished by Professor Emeritus and constitutional law expert David Mullan earlier this month.

That the alterations envisioned by SORC may have serious consequences has been made clear by Professor Mullan, who writes:

In my view, the proposed revisions, when combined with the creation in April 2010 of the Queen’s University Planning Committee (“QUPC”), will result in a significant diminution in the formal powers of Senate. (Mullan p. 2)

In such a case, he notes that SORC should be expected to furnish “an extensive report on the nature of [its proposed] revisions and a clause-by-clause justification of each of them” (p. 4).

SORC has now revised its proposed revisions and presented them in a tabular collation with the original text and a column of “rationale[s] for change.”

SFC is not persuaded, however, that these “rationales” suffice to explain the corresponding revisions.  A “rationale for change” should specify (a) what is unacceptable about the existing text and (b) how (in specific and practical terms) the revised text would be preferable.  In these terms, most of the “rationales” given in SORC’s document are not rationales but comments.

Moreover, it is not clear why the “Functions” need revising in general:  what will be remedied by the revisions, and how?   And what negative consequences would follow if the “Functions” were left as they now stand?

SFC urges Senators to read the original “Functions of the Senate,” the proposed revision, and Professor Mullan’s analysis, and to come to Senate prepared to ask why the “Functions of Senate” need to be changed as proposed here.

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