University suspends Queen’s delegation to China after coronavirus outbreak

At Senate, vice-provost says Queen’s consulting with other universities

Senate gathered on Jan. 28.
Journal File Photo

Tuesday’s Senate meeting, the first of the semester, included discussion of the fall term break, the closure of the Chown Hall investigation, and international students at Queen’s.

Senate opened with a Commitment Ceremony to reaffirm the promise of the friendship wampum belt. Nathan Brinklow Thanyehténhas, a member of the Turtle Clan from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and a professor at Queen’s, provided remarks.

“For a long time, our University failed to educate students on the long conflict between Canada and the Indigenous community,” Principal Patrick Deane said in response. He went on to highlight the progress he believes Queen’s has made, including the appointment of Janice Hill (Kanonhsyonne) as associate vice-principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation) in 2018.

Senate also held a moment of silence for Amir Moradi, the Queen’s student who was killed in the crash of Ukrainian Flight PS752 in Iran.

Next, Senate voted on and passed a motion to establish a Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law (GDICL) in the Faculty of Law. A second motion passed accepted revisions made by the Senate Committee on Academic Procedures (SCAP) to the Senate Policy on the use of calculators in tests or examinations.

Senate moved to discuss another motion put forward by SCAP to approve sessional dates for the 2021-22 academic year, prolonging the fall term break beyond its initial pilot. The motion was debated extensively, and was finally passed with two amendments.

Principal’s report

Deane reported the closing of the police investigation into the racist incident that occurred Oct. 10 in Chown Hall, but added that the issue was not closed from the point of view of the University.

“Students who were victims of that incident are going to need our support, and we are going to have to continue our efforts to ensure that we don’t have a repetition of what happened in Chown Hall last fall,” Deane said.

Provost’s report

Tom Harris, interim provost and vice-principal (Academic), reported on the University’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is a rapidly changing scenario,” Harris said. “We have an ad-hoc working group working every day to keep track of advisories from the province, the federal government, and from China in particular.”

Harris said that a website would be launching in the next few days that would provide viewers with comprehensive information about the coronavirus. He added that decisions had been made to suspend a Queen’s delegation to China.

“We’ve got a comprehensive approach in which we are also consulting with other universities,” Harris said.

Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney spoke about 2019-2020 undergraduate and graduate enrollment outcomes. She noted there’s been a decline in the first- to second-year retention rate of Indigenous students.

“That’s something we’re concerned about,” Tierney said. “There’s a relatively small base and so a few numbers can have an impact, but we are monitoring this with the faculties on the undergraduate level.”

When the report moved to the 14 per cent increase of international students at Queen’s, questions were raised about the University’s ability to support international students as they attempted to adapt culturally.

“I think there’s a great deal of support on campus,” Tierney said. “The new space that we have for the  Queen’s University International Centre has enabled us to increase the number of resources and also the number of events [in support of international students].”

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