SGPS circulates VIA Rail petition
A new VIA Rail policy no longer allows students over the age of 25 to receive a discount. For mature students, this means they will have to pay regular price for seats when the policy is enacted on Dec. 21, 2011.
The SGPS is part of a national campaign run through the Canadian Federation of Students. The campaign is circulating a petition to present to VIA Rail asking for a reversal of the decision.
Anne-Marie Grondin, SGPS vice-president (campaigns and community affairs), said that VIA Rail decided to amalgamate the youth and student packages at the end of February, under the assumption that most students are youth anyway.
“Our dispute with that is first of all, that’s not true,” Grondin, PhD ’12 said. “But that also this will affect a large part of their clientele.” In the upcoming months, the SGPS will circulate the petition before giving it to VIA Rail at the end of the summer.
Post office closing
On June 30, the Retail Post Outlet (RPO)—located in the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC—will close for good. The decision was based on the outlet’s declining sales. The RPO sells stamps and envelopes and offers services including mail, dry cleaning and student loan processing. Two permanent staff members will be discharged from their positions following the closing.
“At a time when all Canadian universities … are facing significant financial difficulties, we have to examine the viability of all of our services,” Caroline Davis, vice-principal (finance and administration), said.
Students and faculty will have the option of using nearby pharmacies and Canada Post outlets to process their mail. Arrangements are currently being made to establish an on-campus location to handle student loans.
Canada Post has expressed interest in providing other on-campus options in the future.
New minors added
Undergraduates will have the option of minoring in Medieval Studies or Spanish Latin American Studies this September. The decision was approved at the April 6 senate meeting. The new Medieval Studies option will integrate certain Art, Classics, English and History classes that have a medieval focus.
The recently established Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures will provide the Spanish Latin American Studies option.
New AMS fund created for students
A new AMS fund will help 10 students to pay the mandatory AMS fees due in September. The decision was passed at the April 7 AMS Assembly.
Full time students will pay $620 in mandatory AMS fees for the 2011-12 academic year. The fund of $5,000 will allow students who receive the bursary to get partial or full coverage of the fees.
Kieran Slobodin, AMS vice-president (university affairs), said financial need shouldn’t be a barrier to participation in student government. The mandatory AMS fees go towards student groups like Queen’s Bands as well as athletics, student health and Orientation Week.
Students must submit an application and prove that they meet the requirements of the bursary. The applications will be approved in October of the upcoming school year.
“I think it’s a good step for the AMS to take and once we see how it goes this year,” Slobodin, ArtSci ’12 said. “It’ll give us a good indication of whether it will be continued in the future.”
Saudi agreement signed
A new agreement with the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau of Canada encourages more Saudi students to attend Queen’s.
The agreement, signed in March, will allow Saudi students the opportunity to upgrade their English language skills before starting their degree by attending Queen’s School of English (QSoE).
Elaine Armstrong, director of the QSoE, said the agreement will help foster Queen’s internationalization efforts.
“It provides Saudi students with a solid opportunity to get into Queen’s, which is what they are looking for,” Armstrong said.
Under this new agreement, Saudi undergraduate applicants that lack an English language requirement but otherwise qualify for admission may be conditionally accepted to Queen’s. Acceptance comes on the condition that they attend a 10-week English language program at the QSoE.
Both programs are funded by the Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program which provides government funding to select Saudi students to study abroad.
Queen’s renews ranking participation
Queen’s will partake in the Times Higher Education 2011 ranking process after declining to participate last year.
Due to shifting criteria, Queen’s chose to remain unlisted in last year’s Times Higher Education ranking. The Times has now altered their methods.
Queen’s officials were concerned that previous methods used didn’t accurately take into account multiple university goals.
Chris Conway, director of the Queen’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning, said criteria used for ranking does not capture the quality undergraduate student experience found at Queen’s.
“Queen’s is still concerned because the rankings focus mainly on research volume and intensity,” Conway said.
This year Queen’s will also be participating in the QS World University Rankings and the Academic Review of World Universities. Maclean’s and Research Info Source projects will also include Queen’s in their ranking systems.