College surprised by legal action
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
A disagreement between the Douglas College Faculty Association (DCFA) and Douglas College—regarding limiting the number of years a member can serve on an important committee—has found its way to the British Columbia court system for resolution.
On this January 21, the DCFA—the union that represents all Douglas College Faculty (including instructors, counselors, and librarians)—filed a claim with the Supreme Court of British Columbia stating that Douglas College did not have the power to limit faculty members to two full consecutive terms of service (or four years) on the Douglas College Education Council, according to the ‘Petition to the Court’ document obtained by the Other Press.
Case file number VLC-S-S-200709 – Douglas College Faculty Association v. Douglas College alleges that the Registrar of Douglas College overstepped its powers (which are outlined in the College and Institutes Act) by amending the Douglas College election rules and procedures.
“The DCFA is defending the integrity of the Colleges and Institutes Act and the structures of Education Council,” wrote Jasmine Nicholsfigueiredo, President of the Douglas College Faculty Association when asked for comment by email.
The Douglas College Education Council (EdCo) is charged with a number of duties—as laid out in the College and Institutes Act—specifically setting Douglas College class curriculum content, educational policy, and managing the business affairs of the College. Members sit on the council for two-year terms. Currently, there are 20 voting members on the 2019 to 2020 Educational Council—10 DCFA members (elected by the DCFA) with a mix of Douglas College students, staff, and administrators. Douglas College President Kathy Denton, and Registrar Rella Ng, sit on the council as well—but as non-voting members.
The Registrar’s alleged rule change affected DCFA President Nicholsfigueiredo, as the English faculty member was barred from running in the election for membership to the 2019 to 2020 Education Council, as she already served two two-year terms when the Registrar ruling was instituted—despite being elected President of the DCFA earlier that year.
Douglas disagrees with the DCFA and has 21 days from receiving the DCFA petition to respond to the court.
“This application came as a surprise to Douglas College, as this issue was discussed with the DCFA last year, and an agreed process was put into place for Education Council to resolve it. The college remains committed to the agreed-upon Education Council bylaw review process, which is expected to be completed in Fall 2020,” commented Sarah Dench, Associate Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs when reached for comment.