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Interim Governance: Some reflections

The interim governance documents, however well-intentioned they may be, have the potential for abuses of power, as well as incursions into the privacy, and personal freedoms of the students at the Graduate Institute. I outline here some of the issues I see, based on the Interim governance documents released for comment from the Institute’s community.

Since the draft documents are open for comments to only the Institute’s community, we are choosing not to publish them on our platform in order to keep it confidential with respect to non-community members. Comments on the specific drafts are available here, and can be accessed through the Graduate Institute email address. The following section highlights broader issues with the Interim Governance and the Request for Comments process.

Note: The document requesting feedback on the draft documents is available here. Feel free to use any or all of the issues mentioned herein to provide your feedback, if you feel so inclined.

In December 2021, the Institute’s community was made aware of the establishment of an interim governance body, consisting of ‘GISA, AdA and all programme student representatives, as well as members of the administrative and academic management’. On February 17, 2022, we were also informed of the setting up of multistakeholder working groups centred around five themes  ‘Provision of information, Communication and Intranet; Residence Life; Governance and student involvement; Culture, Code of Conduct and Conflicts of Interest; Digital Code of Conduct’. Most recently, on May 19, 2022, draft documents were released on the Intranet, for comments and suggestions from the IHEID Community. Four documents were released, namely the Digital Charter, the Code of Conduct, the diagrammatic representation of the system, and the Pact on Living Together with Respect and Tolerance. The Institute’s community has until June 21, 2022 to provide feedback for each of these documents. It is within this context that some concerns regarding the drafts are being shared.

Procedural issues with the Interim Governance Documents and the Request for Comments: 

  • Scheduling comments at this juncture, when nearly half of the student population is scheduled to graduate, simply increases the likelihood that there will be lesser participation in the public comments process. Additionally, is it fair that the public comments process will close before the incoming batch comes to the Institute? These will be the students who will feel the impact of these interim governance documents. It is possible that they may not have access to the intranet, and are not part of this public comments process. Even if they do have access and are participating in public comments, by virtue of not being present yet at the Institute, and therefore not having a sense of how the Institute functions, their contributions may probably be more useful if comments were to be open for a longer time.
  • What will be the next steps once feedback is received? How do we know that our comments have been taken into consideration, will there be a second document that is shared with us before it is sent to the Board for approval? Will students have access to the comments submitted by other students, as well as the reasons for accepting or rejecting the feedback and input provided?
  • How does approval from the Foundation Board work in practice? What happens to all this work that has been done by the students, and the various interim governance bodies if the Foundation Board chooses to amend these documents at their will?
  • Access: Finding these documents on the Intranet has not been easy. It was not available at the landing page, not in the student toolbox, and was not the first search result for ‘Interim Governance’. It should be made easier for interested individuals to find these documents. For interested parties within the community,  the relevant link chain: Intranet > Institut > Interim Governance

You can find our specific comments on the Digital Charter, the Code of Conduct, the Pact for Living together at the Institute in Respect and Tolerance and the Diagram on the Conflict and Harassment Handling System here

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

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