Speaking Out

A-3 Election Controversy

A recent article in the DP may have led to some confusion regarding my role in the Council representation/A-3 Assembly controversy. I would like to clarify what has actually happened.

In November, 1996, I brought this issue to the attention of VPUL McCoullum because I felt that it constituted a violation of my rights under the Open Expression Guidelines. Dr. McCoullum designated Barbara Cassel to handle the issue, and Ms. Cassel brought the issue before the Committee on Open Expression. (I felt that such a move was unnecessary, given the facts of the case.) While appearing before the COE, I noted that Wheeler's actions also violated Council Bylaws, but told them that was not part of my Open Expression complaint per se.

In December, I wrote to Mark Lloyd, parliamentarian of University Council, asking for an advisory opinion regarding the violations of Council Bylaws inherent in the actions of Wheeler and the A-3 Board. Mr. Lloyd notified me that he could not give such an opinion without being asked by the chair of Steering. Mr. Lloyd sent a copy of his response (which contained my original detailed account of Council Bylaws violation) to Council Secretary Constance Goodman. I also wrote to Ms. Goodman on December 16, asking her to consider my email an official request that my concerns be brought to the attention of Council. Ms. Goodman did not reply, nor did I hear from anyone on Council.

In February, the COE sent the issue of possible violations of Council Bylaws to Council Steering.

I have not requested that Steering act on my behalf. I have asked Steering to enforce its own Bylaws in this matter, and to make sure that there is no question of the legitimacy of the A-3 representative next year. What is at issue before Steering are not my rights, but the legitimacy of representation at Council as defined by its Bylaws. I have also asked Steering to request a ruling from the Open Expression Committee on the Open Expression issues involved.

I have endeavored consistently to make clear that my role in any arbitration proceeding is not as a complainant per se, but as someone who is particularly knowledgeable about the facts, and as someone whose status will be determined through the arbitration process. I have not asked Steering in anyway to "interfere in the proceedings of another constituency," but to notify that constituency that Council does not recognize representation that is selected in violation of its Bylaws. (I did, consistent with the Open Expression Guidelines, ask the OEC to "interefere.") Council can decide whether or not to enforce its own Bylaws, but in my opinion, if it chooses not to do so, it is not merely endorsing Wheeler's behavior, it is signalling that those rules aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

-- Paul Lukasiak, Administrative Assistant, SSW

Ed. Note: Concerning A-3 Arbitration

At Council on March 5, Dr. Peter Kuriloff as chair of the Steering Committee reported on the issue raised at left, and with his permission Almanac now enters the account he gave, and the exchange that folowed. Text has been lightly edited from a tape recording.

The exchange when students asked for information during the Q&A that follows the reporting period at Council.

Dr. Kuriloff: Steering discussed the issue at great length at its last meetring and there was a recommendation made that the parties to this dispute enter into binding arbitration. I have found an arbitrator who has agreed to do it, and the question is whether both sides now will agree to him as an aribitrator. If they can agree that this is an acceptable person, hopefully it will go forward. It's quite awkward, because on the one hand the rules are very clear that there need to be democratic processes, but on the other hand each constituency defines its democratic process. So of course we [Steering] have a super-ordinate role; but the balance is delicate, in terms of how much we interfere and how much we get people to work it out.

Dr. Arnold J. Rosoff: In the memorandum from Council Steering about the subject, faculty at the Law School and Wharton were identified, I wondered if this is the kind of issue that might be settled at another level. For all of the reasons that a lot of people are concerned, it sounds just a little adversarial and I was wondering if something for mediators, ombudsman, look at this in a way that might be less charged.

Dr. Larry Gross: Steering was given impression the Ombudsman was not able to resolve it, and there are members of the faculty who have a great deal of experience and sensitivity in handling these things. The notion of arbitration is precisely to ty to avoid the more adversarial but still resolve the issues. I think there are some people in our community who would be able to handle this very well.

Dr. Kuriloff: I would be delighted to hear from you [Dr. Rosoff] about the availability of mediators who might be able to help. Arbitration is a step up in dispute resolution. In mediation, you try to work it out; and apparently the Ombudsman wasn't able to mediate it; perhaps someone else could have. Arbitration means both sides agree to accept the findings of the officer. So it's a step up, short of a formal quasi-judicial hearing. I'd be glad to accept your suggestion for other mediators, because we still have to get both sides to agree.


Volume 43 Number 29
April 8, 1997

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