Wednesday, July 30, 2008

President for Joey's Mini-Oxford

The autonomy of academic institutions is an assumed right of self-governance second only to our military. What happens then when a minister of the crown wants "in" on the decision of who to hire for the next president of University? Legally, minister Joan Burke has every right to stick her wrench in the cogs of the hiring process. Traditionally though this right has been a rubber stamp approval of the candidate chosen by the University's Echelon.

Should Minister Burke have trashed the resumes and sent the University scouting again for a president? Simple answer is no. The university commands a particular right within our society. Academia has to be able to sit in their jackets smoke their pipes and scratch their chins in peace. It is a fundamental right in a civilized society. University must allow freedom of thought and expression and in so doing our society as a whole grows because of this freedom. Without the filter of religious dogma, industrial or political persuasion the big "Why" and "What if" can be allowed to present itself freely.

But I am a MUN alumni.

I am also a Newfoundland and Labradorian. I pay in part for that institution. It is not "Government" that has it's hands in the seeds of MUN's growth, it is a representative of the people. A person entrusted to the public purse. In that light it is necessary that the minister is in the loop on the selection process. Indeed it is even necessary that she has the right of veto. Question is, where and when does this veto get exercised? The danger is the government may very well choose a president that is friendly to the government's ultimate goals. Grenfell University and all that. The danger on the other side is that MUN, which is an institution that has a great number of non-Newfoundland and Labradorians may be less concerned with the best interests of Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole and more concerned with the academic path the University follows.

For my part I say Minister Burke may have been wrong, only the specific details on why she did not except these two potentials would consolidate my opinion. I would default to allowing the University its due process. Unfortunately the details are not and cannot be known.

The other point is that if Newfoundland and Labrador is going to pursue the best interests of Newfoundland and Labrador we have to start thinking like a country. No apologies to loyalists nor separatists when I say that. The National rag, The Globe and Mail is the real reason this is in the public light. We will debate this one amongst ourselves thank you very much. I say to the Globe and Mail mind your own bloody business.

No comments: