University Council snub Senate at Leeds?
In July, The University of Leeds Senate passed a motion of no confidence in David Willets:
“The University of Leeds has no confidence in the policies of the Minister for Universities and Science. Senate urges the University Secretary and Council to convey this message to Government.”
Given the fact that this motion was passed, you would think that the University Secretary and the University Council might have respected the will of Senate. It appears, to date, they have done no such thing.
In fact, University Council went as far as to announce that the vote had been passed by a minority of Senate, according to the public minutes of their meeting. They declared this by adding up the abstentions and adding them to the ‘no’ votes. Perhaps they weren’t told that even the people who abstained spoke in favour of the principle if the motion. One Dean went so far as to condemn most every measure of the government, and then abstained. Perhaps they weren’t told that not one single person spoke out against the sentiment of the motion. More conspicuously, perhaps they haven’t read the standing orders of Senate:
“a simple majority of the members present and voting at any meeting shall be sufficient to carry any resolution or amendment.”
We’ve done some checking and never before in the history of the University – as far as we can detect – has Council ignored this standing order and counted abstentions to come to a view about what Senate requests. What might be the motivation for doing so this first time? Had the VC told Senate that Council would ignore the standing orders of Senate, would those people who abstained still have done so?
So, Council have seemingly ignored the will of Senate. What about the University Secretary? This matter is to be clarified in today’s Senate.
The council recommended that the issue should be a matter for a questionnaire. But what assurance could staff have when council ignored a 97% vote to reject the proposed change to USS, via questionnaire.
Let’s face it. Neither Senate nor other modes of expressing the will of staff, or students in the case of the Willett’s vote, will ever really have an effect on a Council that has other ideas.