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Senate Overview: February

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Senate is the academic governing body of UFV, with the university president and vice chancellor Joanne MacLean as the chair. They are responsible for making decisions on everything academic: approving new courses and programs, approving changes to programs, setting entrance requirements, and setting the academic calendar. The Board of Governors, who looks at the business side of the university, is advised by Senate on matters of mutual interest.  

All at the university are welcome to attend Senate’s public meetings, held once a month at either the Abbotsford or the CEP campus, but most do not. Regardless, Senate makes decisions that impact the daily lives of both students and faculty.

Presentation by SUS President Gurvir Gill

A two year trial for a full orientation day was approved by senate last year at the request of the Student Union Society (SUS). The idea behind the dedicated orientation day was to provide services to help first-year students transition from high-school to university life. SUS president Gurvir Gill presented to senate a summary of what SUS had done with the days and general attendance.

The fall orientation focused on building friendships through games and competitions, and orienting students through workshops about SUS services, money management, and classroom reality, a workshop where upper year students engage with first-years on what they can expect in a university classroom environment. Over the course of the day Gill reported there were 400-500 students in attendance.

There was also a consent workshop for females and a healthier masculinity workshop for males, that looked to address the “Red Zone,” which refers to the first five weeks of the semester in which new students are most vulnerable to sexual assault. These workshops helped to introduce the concepts of active bystander and sexual violence training.

There was a comment by senate about the sex segregation of the workshops, in that it could be problematic to have a consent workshop for women only. Gill responded that the healthier masculinity workshop was to de-stigmatize the macho-jock-reality and the barriers young men faced in high school years. These workshops were meant to emphasize to first years that university is a safe space in which all can express themselves as who they want to be instead of who society wants them to be.

The second orientation was held on Monday, Jan. 7, the first official day of classes for the winter semester, instead of on the Friday that had been set aside for a dedicated orientation day. Gill said the reason for this was SUS felt the turnout may not be as high, due to the day being right before the weekend and the possibility of international students still arriving. There were similar events to the fall orientation that were geared specifically for first year students, such as a carnival, indian food buffet, and ice cream social. Gill said there was no official count of first-year attendance for the events, but that 1,100 students did get their Upass that day.

Academic Misconduct, Addition of FD Grade

A motion was approved to revise Policy 70, the student academic misconduct policy, and to approve the addition of a failure due to academic discipline (FD) grade to Policy 101, the Grading System Policies. The new grade is effective September 1. FD grades are common across Canada as a way to acknowledge on student’s transcripts when failure was due academic misconduct.

Sessional Dates, Remembrance Day

There was some discussion on whether the school should be closed for Remembrance Day on the Monday or the Friday of this upcoming Fall semester. A concern among some members of the senate was that if our day off was held on the Friday it would wreak havoc amongst the students whose children have the day off on the Monday. As of right now, the holiday is still scheduled to be observed on Friday, November 10.

President Report

In the president’s report, UFV’s president Joanne MacLean discussed the progress of the new visioning process for the university and summarized the four statements of core values that have been made thus far: integrity, inclusivity, excellence, and community. The mission statement has been crafted as: engaging learners, transforming lives, building community.

Some more thoughts that have come from the visioning process include internationalization and Indigenization in terms of hiring and course development, health and wellness of staff and students, space on campus, free speech and inclusivity, and diversity of thought.

Image: The Cascade

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