When is an interest, a conflict of interest?
This story from April - Student union and Lakehead U. board at odds - got me thinking about how the term COI gets overused, and sometimes even misused. At issue was changes to Lakehead University’s COI bylaw for its board of governors; the critique being made by the University is that student representatives on the board were in a COI when discussing issues of student tuition.
What’s odd about this move is that it seems to assume that all members of the board are neutral with regards to all subjects. And so because students can’t be neutral about issues regarding students, then they probably shouldn’t be on the board. The problem, though, is that the very reason that students are and should be representatives on boards or committees of various sorts, is to represent student interest – they are explicitly not disinterested, nor should they be!