Author: Emily Bonia
While the resignation of student representative Brittany Lennox from the Board of Regents may have come as a shock to Iris Petten (the chairperson of the Board of Regents) and the rest of the Board, Lennox stated in a resignation letter that she felt that there were instances of gas-lighting and bullying for her entire time on the board.
Petten said in a Gazette article that “Prior to the letter, I did not see nor was I made aware of anything that I would characterize as bullying, intimidation or gas lighting — I would have very swiftly and definitively dealt with that.”
Lennox’s resignation letter, while made public, is mostly a document of blacked out text as a result of confidentiality agreements that she had previously signed as a member of the board. Lennox explained that she would state things she knew to be true of the university or the student union and members would gas-light her on such a manner. While Petten may have been innocent in that she legitimately did not know the truth behind Lennox’s claim and genuinely believed other members of the Board to be helpful in correcting Lennox’s “faulty claim,” gas-lighting is a serious concern for future students who may be asked to sit on the board.
While gas-lighting may seem like a relatively new idea, it simply means when someone denies something you know to be true. For example, if someone knows the sky is blue but others go out of their way to intimidate, belittle and manipulate said person to believe that the sky is actually purple, that would be gas-lighting.
In an earlier statement by Lennox, she suggested that some of this problem stemmed from the confidentiality within the board structure which ultimately allowed for the oppressive behaviours to occur.
The Board of Regents is a university governance structure which deals with the multi-million dollar budget of the university among other things. As stated by the university website, the board of regents is “the management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of Memorial University are vested in a Board of Regents ”and consists 30 members as follows: three ex-officio members (the Chancellor of the University, the President of the University, and the Vice-President of the University who is the Pro Vice-Chancellor); six members elected by the Alumni Association of the University; four members who are full-time students of the University; seventeen members selected by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.”
Oddly enough, none of the members who sit on the board of regents are allowed to be faculty – which would include assistant professors, tenure-track professors, and per course instructors. The Teaching Assistant Union of MUN (TAUMUN) released a statement after Lennox’s resignation in support of Lennox and announcing a campaign to push for faculty representation on the board of regents as the current structure is sub-par for the needs of the university.
On December 1, the university released a statement following a board of regents meeting announcing “a review of the policies of confidentiality; the code of conduct; the interaction between governance and administration; feedback mechanisms for board members; orientation and professional development for board members; and other related matters.”
All of these findings will be made public “with due regard to privacy legislation.”
The university administration has been contacted about the upcoming policy changes and when students can expect to see the policy review, but no comment was available at the time of production.