They are not. I have been reading plenty of articles of late about Ontario universities fighting to keep things secret in light of the extension of Freedom of Information legislation to cover them. I have been impressed at how much effort certain universities have put into using FOI to actually hide things! Yes, they are using FOI to hide things in complete and total violation of the spirit of FOI. This has to be the worse example that I have heard of so far and it is at Lakehead University in T.Bay. The LUSU President writes in her weekly update:
Issues…right. The Board of Governors have realized that their knee-jerk reaction to both the Land Swap and FOIPPA may be two steps back without the one step forward. Get this: because of confidentiality structures already in place, last year Adam was accused of breaking confidentiality in telling the students that they were about to lose their green space [If this differs from any ‘official’ version, that’s kind of too bad because from my point of view that’s exactly how it went down]. Also, shortly after this FOIPPA (freedom of information and protection of privacy act) reared its ugly head. In response, the BoG blanketed EVERYTHING…all committees and sub-committees with an “in-camera” label. This means that what goes on in the room is a secret until it’s brought to the BoG where Governors are expected to critically evaluate projects that they have not even heard of until that very instant. It also means that our student representatives are gagged and unable to solicit student opinion on anything.
So you gotta ask yourself: If being secret and not asking for anybody’s input got you into a mess in the first place, how would tightening the screws solve the problem? I’m reminded of a Simpson’s episode where that old crusty guy who wears the sandals has to substitute teach Lisa’s class during the strike. He gets his beard caught in the pencil sharpener. To help him out, Grandpa Simpson gives the sharpener a quarter turn then looks up with a confused expression on his face. And then repeats.
Speaking of secrecy and whatnot, I just came from the FOIPPA Committee. Whoa. That’s a whole other topic. Till next time, this is one of your student reps, signing off.