By McGill Reporter Staff
Senate voted Wednesday to continue video streaming of its monthly proceedings, and agreed to limited archiving of the video images that would allow members of the McGill community to have access to the video record up until the next Senate meeting.
All the recommendations of an ad hoc committee struck to review the video streaming pilot project were accepted. The decision is subject to review within the next five years, noted Chandra Madramootoo, Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Studies, who chaired the committee.
The committee’s recommendations also include the following:
The live transmissions shall be archived as a non-downloadable file for access by members of the University community for a period lasting up to the next Senate meeting;
In order to increase awareness of live streaming, the Secretariat will include regular reminders of the process on its website and make reference to the agenda and documents of each Senate meeting on its website. In addition, the Secretariat will further publicize live streaming of Senate meetings in University electronic communications vehicles, such as “what’snew@mcgill”;
Given the current financial constraints within the University, the Secretary-General will work with the Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations) on the allocation of resources for live streaming and archiving of the live transmissions.
Senate also voted to accept a number of conditions associated with live streaming, which had been presented in the November 2013 report of the Ad Hoc Committee. These include the crucial point that the official record of Senate remains the written minutes and not the video record.
In addition, there is to be no recording or transmission of the closed and confidential sessions of Senate; the broadcasts shall be transmitted exclusively to members of the University community, which includes McGill staff, students and alumni. In order to access the broadcasts or archived sessions, viewers will have to enter their McGill ID and password.
The conditions also stipulated that cameras should only focus on the Chair or a Senator who is addressing the assembly, which is consistent with the protocols of both the House of Commons and the Assemblée Nationale in Quebec City.
Finally, those wishing to view the live transmission will be made aware of their privileges and responsibilities via a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Viewers will have to agree to this statement before being granted access to the broadcast and the statement will remain posted on their display screen throughout.
The ad hoc committee’s report suggests viewership is low, with the number of viewers peaking at about 50 per meeting. The increased promotional efforts are aimed at boosting those numbers.
The report also indicated that the vast majority of Senators who responded to a survey – 38 versus 3 – found the presence of television cameras did not have an inhibiting effect on their participation in Senate meetings.