The second Senate meeting of the year was underscored by a sense of bewilderment about Queen’s financial position and Campus Security.
Senators gathered in Robert Sutherland Hall on Nov. 2 to discuss ongoing budget issues, campus safety measures, and the University’s statements on the conflict in the Middle East.
Senators approved the nomination of Anand Castelino to assume a role on the Senate Agenda and Summer Action Committee. Castelino took the position on Nov. 2 and is expected to hold it until August 31, 2025.
Principal Patrick Deane opened the meeting sharing his excitement about the unveiling of the Stephen J.R. Smith Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. The rebrand includes a $100 million donation to the faculty from the alumnus.
“This is the biggest gift to an Engineering faculty in Canadian history,” Deane said.
Senate deliberated on an article published by the Globe and Mail which compared Queen’s $62.8 million operating budget deficit to other Ontario universities.
According to the article, Western University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Waterloo all reported surpluses this year. The University of Guelph is expected to report a $19 million deficit.
“A number of colleagues were surprised by the article as we thought other Ontario Universities were in a similar position to Queen’s,” said Faculty Senator Samantha King.
Provost Matthew Evans believes the article isn’t comparing the correct numbers.
“It is not clear if the article is comparing the same numbers,” Evans said. “My understanding from other provosts in the province who talk to each other is that the majority of universities in Ontario are in very similar [financial] situations.”
Jacqueline Davies, faculty senator, asked Evans if University communications plans to address the article, emphasizing the impact it has on Queen’s reputation.
The University has an active communication plan, Evans explained.
Evans informed Senate the University enrolled 468 international students this year, but only recruited 387. Evans reiterated the need to increase international student enrollment to help balance the books.
“The net result of this is financially unfavorable,” Evans said.
Senator Davies recounted a story in which one of her colleagues from the gender studies department called Campus Security for a non-emergency.
“Campus Security didn’t know where gender studies was,” Davies said. “While the gender studies department has moved in the past year, it has been a whole year, yet this sort of basic information couldn’t be communicated.”
For Davies, the incident highlighted the University’s failure to listen to faculty members who expressed concerns regarding campus security and safety. The University needs to ensure the protection of all departments on campus, Davies explained.
Senator Petra Fachinger echoed similar sentiments, advocating for staff and faculty training when dealing with potentially dangerous situations in classrooms.
“I would like detained instructions on what to do when someone holds a gun up to my face,” Fachinger said. “More immediate training [for faculty] needs to be done beyond putting up posters on classroom walls [about safety measures].”
Mary Olmstead, president of Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA), is having conversations with her colleagues about campus safety training.
“We have had a number of very good proposals so hopefully within the next month we will bring forth some suggestions [to the University],” Olmstead said.
Conflict in the Middle East
Faculty Senator Leila Notash wanted to know whether the University will call for a ceasefire in the Middle East.
Notash was overcome with emotion as she recounted the violence in the Middle East and its impact on children residing in the Gaza Strip. Notash acknowledged Principal Deane’s recent statement addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus and the ongoing war, but questioned whether Queen’s will call for an end to the conflict.
Deane wasn’t aware of any movement from the Council of Ontario Universities, an organization which fosters collaboration and advocacy among Ontario universities, to call for a ceasefire.
Given Queen’s diverse community, Deane doesn’t want to alienate any groups on campus by making polarizing political statements about the war.
“It is very difficult for a University to make calls for political action because the University is not a state. They’re a diverse community,” Deane said.
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