This morning the UBC Board of Governors held an in camera unannounced Board meeting.
The Ubyssey discovered this fact when a photographer was sent over to the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre to take a photograph for another article and was told he could not do so because a Board meeting was taking place.
The Board Secretary Reny Kahlon, when asked for comment on this, said “what meeting?”
At one point the fire alarm in the Alumni Centre was sounding. At no time did fire trucks or ambulances arrive on scene.
When Ubyssey reporters were allowed back in the building, they were told by Alumni Centre staff that no one was allowed on the same floor as the Board room because of a “private function.”
Reporters waited outside the board room for 40 minutes until Richard Johnston, elected faculty representative on the Board, arrived at the Alumni Centre and promptly turned around because it transpired that the meeting was currently taking place in another location. The Ubyssey then followed Johnston to the actual location of the meeting, in the Old Administration Building.
At around 11:30 a.m., Judy Kirk of Kirk & Co., a public relations firm used by the university administration in the past, was seen entering the Board of Governors meeting room.
For the rest of the day board members occasionally entered or exited the room, all saying they were unable to comment but the university would release a statement shortly.
Speculation that the surprise Board meeting today was convened in response to the public outcry resulting from recent blog posts by Sauder professor Jennifer Berdahl’s blog post was confirmed by Acting President Angie Redish’s statement made after the Board meeting was closed.
Berdahl’s first post argued that Arvind Gupta’s resignation was because he felt pressure due to not being “masculine” enough for the role of president. Her next post detailed events in which various levels of the university administration attempted to limit her right as an academic to speak freely, in response to her original post.
“Universities serve society but are also established to question society, and academic freedom is the bedrock on which a university exists,” said Redish. “As such, the university has rigorous processes in place, established with the agreement of the Faculty Association, to investigate any allegation of breach of academic freedom. It is imperative that we follow this impartial process… before pre-judging unproven and untested allegations at this time.”
Redish said that the Board welcomed this process and would not be commenting further on the allegations until the process has been concluded.
Renewed calls have been made for John Montalbano’s resignation. In response to these Redish replied that the Board “has issued its full confidence in John Montalbano and his leadership.”
Montalbano quickly left after the meeting, declining to speak with reporters.
When asked why the Board meeting took place in secret today, Redish said that “personnel issues” are always discussed in camera.
She said she was unable to speak as to when more information surrounding Gupta’s resignation will be released. “The Board made that decision before I became a member of the Board,” she said.