who pays attention to universities in Canada knows that UNB is undergoing a rolling series of motions of non-confidence in the upper management: four faculties and counting. The New Brunswick newspaper is in an uproar. Someone, somewhere, called in the cavalry. And UNB president H.E.A. “Eddy” Campbell has embarked on a gruelling campaign to win hearts and minds.
Here’s my thing: the main difficulty, as I see it, is that President Campbell implies that the problem, the only problem, is communication and if they — the employer — just communicated better with us — the employees — we —the employees — would be less discontent. He does not appear to have considered that our disagreement might not be with not being told what is going on, but rather, with what is going on itself. He doesn’t need to talk to us more; he needs to listen to us, even a little bit. We don’t want to hear more about our employer’s plans to turn UNB into Walmart U or a Center of Excellence for the New Brunswick Economic Sacrifice Zone; we want them to stop all that before it’s too late and to listen to us for a change. We have our own ideas about what we should do.
Which, as far as many of us are concerned, is almost anything other than what our employer is currently doing.
It has gone well beyond a problem with communication.
At no point has President Campbell mentioned university governance. And that, really, is the only issue. If governance at UNB was working as it should, the adamintine lack of transparency, the colourful Powerpoint budgets, the secreted millions, and the slow, inexorable elimination of the academic staff would be addressed. They would have a forum in which to be addressed. A forum, not an echo chamber.
We don’t have “questions,” to quote President Campbell. We already have a pretty clear sense of what is going on, indeed a better sense than our employer if some of their public statements are any indication.