At Senate, Queen’s says no exchange in Hong Kong next term

Senate discusses fall term break, food insecurity, OSAP

At the Nov. 26 Senate meeting, Harris said no Hong Kong exchange next term.

At its last meeting of 2019, Queen’s Senate wrapped up discussion about the fall term break and food insecurity, moving into discussion about issues that will likely dominate the winter term.

Fall Term Break

When senators gathered on Tuesday, David Niddam-Dent, student senate caucus chair, raised the issue of the fall term break, which recently caused the Arts and Science faculty board to reject the 2021-22 academic calendar year.

“Moving forward, we need more foresight into pilot programs and their oversight so three-year pilots don’t become four,” Niddam-Dent said. “By the time the pilot moves into a fourth year, there will be very few students here who have experienced both the two-day break and no break.”

Niddam-Dent told Senate that elected student representatives are looking to involve more student voices in their review of the break, and a survey developed by the AMS for the wider student body about the break will be released soon.

He also presented suggestions ASUS and the AMS have heard from students. “A lot of students have been talking  about attaching [the two break days] to Thanksgiving,” he said.

Teri Shearer, deputy provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion),  responded by saying there is a lack of time for consultations before a motion is set to come before Senate on the matter in January.

“It seems like we need to carry on with what’s currently being done, or revert to 2016, unless SCAD [the Senate Committee for Academic Development] can move quickly,” Shearer said.

“We will have an opportunity to discuss [the break] in a more comprehensive way.” 

Principal’s Report

Principal Patrick Deane opened his report by referencing his recent conversation forums with the Queen’s community.

“I’ve had some extremely positive meetings and conversations with members of our community,” he said. He also spoke about the federal election results and how they may affect Queen’s.

“Our fortunes as a research institution depend on what choices are made federally,” he said.

He cited the absence of a Minister of Science in the new cabinet, as well as the consolidation of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Ministries. “It may be a positive thing that the government’s attention to innovation and science won’t be fractured, but it is too early to say,” Deane said.

One benefit Deane sees in the new government is its commitment to the climate crisis.. He said he believes the new government will provide ample funding for research in that area.

Vice-Provost’s Report

Tom Harris, interim provost and vice-principal (Academic), began his report by announcing the appointment of Brenda Brouwer as the interim dean of Smith School of Business, effective Nov. 18, 2019.

He also announced the Food Insecurity Working Group report will be released to the public by the end of the week.

Harris provided Senate with an update about the Sexual Violence Policy review that was undertaken earlier this month.

The feedback form closed last Friday and all comments will be considered by the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response task force, according to Harris. He expects the review process will be concluded during the winter term.

Harris also said Queen’s wouldn’t offer an exchange in Hong Kong next semester as a result of ongoing protests. This semester, 15 Queen’s students were on exchange in Hong Kong with five partner schools, according to Harris. “Some partners cancelled or suspended courses and activities when violence struck their campuses,” Harris told Senate.

“We contacted all our students to make sure they were safe, and provided resources,” Harris said. In addition, Harris says Queen’s “strongly recommended [students in Hong Kong] return to Canada for the remainder of the term and provided appropriate resources for them to do so.”

Chown Hall Investigation

Senator David Niddam-Dent asked Tom Harris for any updates on the police investigation into the Chown Hall incident, which happened more than a month ago. “I am not aware of any police action or progress on that,” Harris stated.


Teresa Alm, interim university registrar, gave an update on data from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

According to Alm, out of the 6,128 students who received OSAP in 2018-19 and were expected to return in 2019-20, 394 students (6.43 per cent) didn’t return to Queen’s this academic year.

“But 187 of those students were on academic warning or had a GPA less than 2.0, so there could have been other reasons for them not re-attending,” Alm said. Moreover, Alm noted 47 of those 394 students were on a leave of absence or were completing distance degrees for at least part of last year.

 “We have not done an individual follow-up with each of the students,” Alm said. “But we are continuing to work on this, because this has just been clarified after Nov. 1.”

Bursary applications from students engaged in both their studies and part-time work haven’t changed much, according to Alm. However, to combat OSAP cuts, $1.3 million have been added to bursary funds this year.

“The impact on enrollment has not been large,” Alm said. “But the impact on individual students has been large and serious, especially on those with the highest need.”


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