Senate backs motion calling for Laurentian to sit down ‘in good faith’ with University of Sudbury

·3 min read

The Laurentian Academic Planning Committee (ACAPLAN) was not only able to add an agenda item to the Laurentian University Senate meeting on April 20, but had an amended motion adopted.

ACAPLAN is tasked with regularly updating of plans for academic development at Laurentian to ensure what is being offered is accurate and appropriate, as well as being consistent with the university’s goals.

Joel Belliveau, a historian and former associate professor in Histoire at Laurentian University, is a member of ACAPLAN and the author of the motion that was presented to the Laurentian Senate on April 20.

The motion he authored and which the university senate supported called focussed on the federated universities on the LU campus and on the programs that were cut and how to deal with them.

The ACAPLAN motion Belliveau authored reads:

That Senate encourage Laurentian University to sit down in good faith with the Université de Sudbury and any other federated university that might want to adopt these [axed] programmes and suggest an orderly transition of the said programmes and faculty members and;

ACAPLAN moves that Laurentian University reinstate all of last week’s eliminated programmes in order to proceed with an orderly review of them as per Laurentian's new IQAP [quality assurance] process.

The first was adopted, but only with an amendment, Belliveau said.

“The first motion, with an amendment, was receivable. There was a vote, and only five people voted against, including the president and the vice-president, (Dr. Robert) Haché and (Dr. Marie-Josée) Berger (respectively).”

The adopted motion reads:

“That Senate encourage Laurentian University to sit down in good faith with the Université de Sudbury and any other federated university that might want to adopt these [axed] programmes and suggest an orderly transition of the said programmes and faculty members."

(Original French: Que le Sénat encourage l'Université Laurentienne à s'assoir de bonne foi avec l'Université de Sudbury et toute autre université fédérée qui pourrait vouloir adopter ces programmes [supprimés] et aider à une transition ordonnée desdits programmes et des membres du corps professoral.)

The combination of the motion, and the chance his colleagues had to finally voice their feelings, and in many ways their grief, to the senate, left Belliveau feeling a little lighter, he said..

“I mean, it's not ‘mission accomplished’ in any way, shape or form. But still, I felt like we can go at a more normal pace.”

Laurentian is governed by a bicameral structure, under which the senate is responsible for academic decisions, while the administration handles fiscal ones.

In Laurentian’s case, the CCAA filing took away that sovereignty, Belliveau said, so it can't force the administration to respond, “to sit down in good faith with either University of Sudbury or Thorneloe, or NOSM,” he said.

This sit down was the goal of the motion.

“We were hoping to show that there's lots of opposition inside of Laurentian, it’s not just the community who's up in arms, it's not just the terminated professors, either.”

He added if it were “only the laid-off professors” who were speaking out then there would have been no adopted motion.

“We could not have passed that motion … at Senate. Only five people spoke up against it. People are really upset about the way these programs have been treated, about how the federated universities have been treated, about how the programs have been treated. And so that was a way to express it.”

He hopes it is a message that will be heard loud and clear, and by many ears. “I hope it's going to be harder for them to ignore these pleas, to talk to other universities. But you know, if they don't, it also sends a message to governments. We have proof now that they haven't been doing their best to keep these programs open. I think that gives the province legitimacy to intervene. That's what I'm hoping is going to happen.”

Jenny Lamothe is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com. She covers the Black, Indigenous, immigrant and Francophone communities.

Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com