Board of Governors, amidst protests, behind closed doors approve of BAC Tuition Increases

Meeting devolves into protests, disrupts normal procedures

UPDATED: 8:44 p.m. AST, Apr. 19

The Dalhousie Board of Governors approved tuition fee increases for the upcoming year, which means students in agriculture, pharmacy and engineering will pay more than $1000 more in tuition next year.

The students’ protest to stop these tuition increases was the biggest and most consistent one ever in BOG meeting history. Yet BOG locked them out and decided against their pleas, which have been happening since September. Students have protested outside the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education’s office and continue to vocalize their concerns using #rejecttherest on social media.

Students remained locked out of the BOG meeting throughout most of the afternoon, from about 3:30 until 6:30. The meeting would conclude with most of the students who had gathered still there in protest.

The meeting itself would start peaceably enough, with the chair himself making specific mention of the transparency and openness of Dalhousie’s governance. Limited protests were made outside verbally, and a complement of the student protestors came into University Hall to sit silently from the gallery of the meeting, by the time of Carolyn Watters’, Vice President Academic and Provost, report regarding the Budget Advisory Committee recommendations for the 2016-17 Dalhousie Budget.

At this point, the students present started making a great cacophony of noise, shaking the boxes of Kraft Dinner which they had brought along before going into a protest. The Chair of the board asked them repeatedly to stop. Failing this, the members of the board paused the meeting and left, to reconvene at the Lord Dalhousie room in the Henry Hicks. The protesters would continue on with chants of “Reject the Reset” as they followed them.

“Reject the Reset,” or #rejectthereset, has been the call of both the Dalhousie Student Union and the Confederation of Students Nova Scotia (CFS-NS) as they’ve protested the tuition resets which the province has allowed to occur not only at Dalhousie, but also at universities all across the province.

Once the board reconvened in the Lord Dalhousie room, they were refused entry into the room by Dalhousie Security. At this time, it’s unclear exactly why this was allowed. The meetings of the Board of Governors are open to the public until the in-camera session of the meeting begins, generally about 45 minutes or so into the meeting. When asked at the door, the students were informed that they simply couldn’t enter by Security blocking the doors – with no confirmation that a vote to move into camera was made.

As such, the students would try their best to disrupt the meeting – calling out various cheers and chants, reading off names from their 1800+ signature petition in protest of the vote. This would come to little effect, despite being carried out for over two and a half hours.

While it’s unknown at this time exactly what occurred within the meeting when it was held behind closed doors, apparently the Board of Governors did approve of the proposed tuition and fee increases which the BAC report outlined. Similarly unclear is why the Chairperson didn’t just have Dalhousie Security eject the students who were disrupting the meeting in University Hall and continue on, rather than move on from the space.

After the meeting it was confirmed that the meeting had shifted in recognition of the inability of continuing the meeting in the space. Apparently, shortly after the Board had moved to the Lord Dalhousie Room this was explained by the chair to the Board and their audience. Neither Dalhousie Security or the students outside the room were informed with such detail though.

Dal News would release a media statement confirming that the proposed budget and hikes by the BAC had passed slightly before 5pm. (http://www.dal.ca/news/media/media-releases/2016/04/19/dalhousie_university_s_board_of_governors_votes_to_approve_tuition_and_fees_for_2016_17.html).

This story will be updated as further information is received.

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William Coney

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