Biz Org Graduation Requirement Dropped in Snap Faculty Council Vote

Aidan Campbell (3L) & Amani Rauff (3L)

Business Organizations, long the scourge of grumpy UV contributors, has been dropped as a graduation requirement.

From 2 p.m. yesterday to around noon today, Faculty Council held an email vote on whether to maintain Business Organizations as a graduation requirement. Though the vote was set to close Monday, a broad majority of Faculty Council had already voted in favour of the change early this morning.

Students currently enrolled in Biz Org (including both UV Editors-in-Chief, who waited until their last terms of law school before finally biting the bullet) now have the option to drop the course before the add-drop deadline. Those who were foolish enough to take the class early will be forever burdened with the knowledge that they could have avoided jettisoning yet another treasured childhood memory to make room for the business judgement rule.

The change is a response to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s recent decision to remove knowledge of “legal and fiduciary concepts in commercial relationships” from the required competencies taught by Canadian common law programs (for the curious, see the full list of competencies here).

We talked with Assistant Dean Sara Faherty, who explained that, since the Federation made the announcement while final exams were in session, the Curriculum Committee waited until the new semester to bring the vote to Faculty Council in order to avoid over-burdening students. The Committee itself had unanimously approved the change. The Committee had also reached out to current and former Biz Org instructors, and Assistant Dean Faherty said that all who responded were in favour of the change.

Asked about the procedural basis for a confidential email vote of this sort, Assistant Dean Faherty said that the Committee consulted Robert’s Rules of Order and determined that the vote represented the appropriate methodology and amount of consultation given the time-sensitive and uncontroversial nature of the question. This was a textbook case, she said, of an issue that could be decided without much of a deliberative process and thus did not require a meeting of Faculty Council.

When reached for comment, SLS President Katie Longo characterized the change as one that “most students will support.” She added: “From a procedural standpoint, I generally do not support email votes as they don’t take place in a public forum and don’t benefit from debate. That being said, many students want a definitive statement on whether they are required to take Business Organizations this semester and that is a time sensitive issue.”

When asked about the decision to keep the vote confidential, Longo said that the need for efficiency dominated: “The faster the votes get in, the more security students have in choosing their courses for the semester.” In the consultations that she says the SLS managed to undertake, the change was viewed as overwhelmingly popular.

Though the need for expediency is clear in this case, unannounced votes on short timelines seem like just the sort of thing that ought to be used sparingly, perhaps even governed by some sort of formal procedural by-laws. By-laws, say, informed by the values of a written constitution? Once again, we are left asking, “Who is this Robert guy, anyway?”