Senate provides fall term break update & discusses COVID-19

Plans set to host consultations regarding transcript notations for other faculties

Senate reviews policies in an extended session at November meeting.  
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

On Nov. 30, the Senate convened in their monthly meeting to discuss University policy and governance. The November meeting discussed the fall term break, transcript notation, orientation, and updates on COVID-19 policies and procedures.

Fall Term Break review

The Senate deliberated on the new proposal for fall break after the Senate Committee on Academic Development and Procedures (SCADP) conducted a survey of the Queen’s community. 

In September, the SCADP formed a task force whose mandate was to consult the Queen’s community with the goal of providing a recommendation on what the fall term break would look like in the future. 

“A fall term break is desirable for student wellbeing and a pre-exam study period is beneficial and should be retained,” Senator Stuart Pinchin said at the meeting. 

“We received more than 10,000 responses to that survey. That gave us a great amount of information. Taskforce members also held consultation sessions within their constituent groups.”

Pinchin said fall break would going forward be integrated into the Thanksgiving Day long weekend, which allowed for no accreditation issues. 

The motion with respect to the fall term break was passed. 

Transcript notation

According to Senate documents, the Smith School of Business, in consultation with other stakeholders, planned to add a provision concerning academic probation notations on transcripts. This provision would allow for notations of academic probation to be removed from transcripts under certain conditions.

“When a student successfully meets the terms of their academic probation, which should be evaluated no more than 12 months after the time at which they are initially placed on probation— then the idea is that the notation would be removed,” Senator Christopher Miners said. 

Senator Laeeque Daneshmend was skeptical of implementing this provision as a Commerce-only policy. 

“I'm very concerned that yet again, this university is attending to issues piecemeal [...] Why are students in other faculties such as Engineering, Arts and Sciences, also not worthy of the same consideration when it comes to having this notation removed?” Daneshmend asked. 

Senator Wanda Costen said not passing the provision would be unfair to the work undertaken by Smith.

“I don't disagree with my esteemed colleague [Daneshmend]. However, it strikes me that this would be penalizing my faculty colleagues for taking the initiative to do what we thought was right for our faculty,” Costen said. 

Miners said, in the wake of StolenbySmith, individuals in Commerce committees determined the necessity of making such changes for Commerce students given Smith’s individuality. 

“While I agree there needs to be a university-wide discussion, I would find it troubling if the Senate were to dictate to individual faculty their individual program policies, given the immense variance in the nature of programs,” Miners said.

Senator Mark Green said he would raise this issue with other faculties and have them start their own consultation process. 

The Senate voted to pass the motion amending the rules for transcript notation in the Smith School of Business.  

Orientation 

The Senate Orientation Activities Review Board (SOARB) filed a report to the Senate detailing orientation experiences of individuals.

This is the last SOARB report filed at Senate due to the decision to shift to the new “Senate Orientation Review Committee” (SORC).

According to SOARB’s final report, the new SORC will continue to examine data from orientation surveys. The SORC will not play a role in the oversight of orientation operations activities as they take place, a change from SOARB’s original mandate.   

During the meeting, senators expressed concerns regarding policymaking and the role of students during orientation. Senator Jordan Morelli described the role of students as essential in policymaking. 

“This dissolution of SOARB strikes me as yet another nail in the coffin for the authority of students over students,” Morelli said. 

Senator Ann Tierney said in conjunction with Zaid Kasim, AMS President, that students and the University administration have an extensive working relationship with respect to orientation.

Senator Melissa Lafreniere also expressed her disappointment with the EDII recommendations shown in the SOARB report, specifically with respect to gender identities. 

“I didn't see any recommendations within the sub report to speak to the perspectives of students who identified as non-heterosexual or different gender identities,” Lafreniere said.  

Deneshmend said a comprehensive report from the EDII working group submitted to the Senate included extensive recommendations on the issues Lafreniere raised.

“I am happy to say that there's been significant uptake and enthusiasm for implementing those changes. But my own personal perspective on this is it takes an institutional culture a long time to shift,” Deneshmend said.

COVID-19 policies and procedures 

Senator Jeremy Nguyen expressed his concerns surrounding standardized procedures for students requiring isolation due to COVID-19. Nguyen said isolation without recorded classes poses a barrier for students who have limited alternatives to accessing coursework.

“Why is there not more being done to standardize the material that is given to students?” Nguyen asked. “There is inconsistency between faculties as to what is provided to students to catch up on material when they have to miss class.”

Green responded to Nguyen’s concern by saying students are already being accommodated if they miss coursework due to illness. 

Senator Lisa Pasolli added that there is concern within the Queen’s community regarding the lack of testing centres on campus. 

“I know from personal experience that the wait time for testing at the Beechgrove [Complex Recreation Centre] is five days [...] so I wonder if there are plans to create a [Queen’s] testing centre. How bad does the situation have to get?” Pasolli asked.

Green said Queen’s is considered a vaccinated bubble and the need for a testing centre on-campus hasn’t been demonstrated yet. 

“The number of cases involving individuals associated with the university who need testing is not significant compared to the needs in the community.”

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