Senate votes to approve introduction of new Black Studies program

Graduate Diploma and Master of Medical Sciences program suspended for two years 

Principal Patrick Deane presented his report at the first senate meeting on Sept. 28.

On Sept. 28, the first senate meeting of the academic year took place, kicking off with discussions on  the approval of a new Black Studies program, Truth and Reconciliation, and the student-led Walkout.

Black Studies program

The Senate approved the introduction of a new Black Studies program in the Faculty of Arts and Science in the 2022 fall semester.

The program will be housed and administered by the Department of Gender Studies and offered as a minor or a general Bachelor of Arts degree.

The program will also collaborate with units and services across Queen’s: a partnership is planned with Queen’s Athletics and Recreation to encourage Black athletes to take the minor.

Principal’s report

Principal Patrick Deane opened his report with updated statistics on vaccination rates amongst students. Currently, 95 per cent of the student population is fully vaccinated and 3.32 per cent partially vaccinated.

“The hope is, of course, that this level of vaccination will allow us increasingly to restore academic activities and campus activities to something that resembles a little more closely what we think of as normal campus life,” he said.

Listing other issues the university is currently facing, Deane cited the emergence of an anonymous report in the spring calling into question the legitimacy of the Indigeneity of Queen’s faculty members.

Deane said the resolution process will be led by Senator Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Director of Indigenous Initiatives, and an external Indigenous facilitating group.

“This will be a community dialogue in the first instance for our internal community, but there will also […] be a broader national dialogue around these questions within which our own discussions will be situated,” Deane said.

Deane moved on to discuss the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30. To mark the occasion, Queen’s distributed 4,000 orange shirts to faculty and staff.

“Anyone who receives a shirt will be asked to sign a declaration of commitment to their own education and learning as part of reconciliation,” he said.

A portion of the proceeds from purchases of the shirts will support the Save the Evidence campaign and the Orange Shirt Society.

Deane also touched on the sexual violence crisis on Canadian university campuses. He voiced his support for students who attended the AMS-organized walkout against sexual violence on Sept. 27.

“I want to commend the students for organizing and attending a protest yesterday against sexual and gender-based violence and for rallying in solidarity with the students at Western,” he said.

Provost’s report

Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green began his report by providing an enrolment update. Both undergraduate and graduate enrolment is on track to meet projected targets.

International graduate enrolment saw a decrease caused mainly by border restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic, according to Green.

“Once again, we’ve had an incredibly strong year of admissions,” Green said.

Green also spoke to the introduction of the inaugural cohort of Commitment Scholars, an award that recognizes students who demonstrate leadership in and commitment to racial justice, social justice, and diversity initiatives in their high school or community. The award was granted for the first time to members of the Class of 2025.

Ten awards of $12,000 are granted to incoming first-year students who self-identify as an underrepresented or marginalized group. The award also provides recipients with academic and career planning support.

“All of this aligns with our broader strategy of creating a more equitable and diverse campus,” Green said.

Green followed this by speaking on new initiatives related to enhancing online learning. Through the provincial government’s virtual learning strategy, Queen’s has received more than $2 million in funding for 32 different projects, all intending to improve online and remote education.

“This enables us to create new educational resources and also support priorities in our new strategic framework,” he said.

Other updates

Senate discussed the suspension of the Graduate Diploma and Master of Medical Sciences program from Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 21, 2023.

The suspension comes as a result of concerns regarding capacity, finances, student experiences, and the learning environment. The suspension is intended to allow the program to address these existing issues before it resumes student admission.

Senator Laeeque Daneshmend, professor and undergraduate chair of the Department of Mining, expressed concern that the suspension process was not duly followed.

“Might I suggest that before matters like this come to Senate again, the information is conveyed in the context of the relevant policy, so that we’re all clear what parts of the policy have been followed and what have not,” he said.

At the time there was no Senate response to Daneshmend.

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