Senate considers alternatives for remote learning

Indigenous Health Chair position introduced at January meeting

Senate discussed mental health in the context of COVID-19. 

On Jan. 25, the Senate convened to discuss questions surrounding academic programs at the Smith School of Business, graduate student supervision policy, and COVID-19 updates for the community. 

Senators also discussed the appointment of a new research chair in the Faculty of Health Sciences.  

Smith sees new academic programming 

Senate passed a motion approving a proposal that will enable BComm students to complete minors in the Faculty of Arts and Science. The change will take effect as soon as possible. 

The ability to add minors to a BComm degree comes after recommendations from the Queen’s University Quality Assurance Process (QUQAP) in 2014. QUQAP works to provide guidance and a framework on academic programming at Queen’s.

“There have been stories of a lot of [Arts and Science] students that have said they're put on waitlists for classes that are required for graduation. I was just wondering how this would affect those classes as they are already quite full,” Senator Jeremy Nguyen asked. 

Senator Robert Hughes echoed Senator Nguyen’s concerns.

“There were people in majors that didn't get a single class in their degree, simply because classes were being filled up,” Hughes said. 

Lori Garnier, Smith’s Director of Strategic Program Development and Accreditation, said Smith was working with the Registrar’s office and the Faculty of Arts and Science “on what enrollment period or time would look like.”

“There's discussions about having Arts and Science students enrolling in their courses first, then followed by Commerce students.”

The new Masters of Digital Product Management was also approved to start in Sept. 2022. This degree program would be a collaboration between Smith and the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Senator Jordan Morelli was concerned the new Masters program symbolized inequity in funding distribution.

“This is an example that really reinforces and illustrates just how great the inequities between faculties across campus are [...] Smith has the resources to put this program on—they don't need to go into overload teaching payments. In Arts and Scienc,e there's just not enough new hires—there hasn't been for a long time,” Morelli said. 

Mark Green, Queen’s Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), said it’s important to recognize the importance of collaboration between faculties. 

Graduate student supervision policy and Indigenous Health Chair

Senate passed the new proposed Graduate Supervision Policy. The policy report by SCADP (Senate Committee on Academic Development and Procedures) outlines the role of graduate students, supervisors, faculty, and supervisory committees.

The policy outlines procedures in cases of leaves of absence and complaint resolution processes.

Senator Diane Beauchemin asked about the training component listed under the policy for graduate students and supervisors. 

“​​The expectation that faculty members and students do training, in supervision for faculty, and for grad students, its other aspects, will this be enforced in some way? And will it be retroactive to all faculty at Queen's who haven't done this training?” Beauchemin said. 

Senator Fahim Quadir said the new training programs will only be mandatory for new faculty hires, not those who currently hold positions. 

“Every new faculty would receive training support from the institution from the School of Graduate Studies and the Centre for Teaching and Learning [...] We have training programs for graduate students and supervisors. This is not a mandatory training program,” Quadir said. 

Along with the graduate supervision policy, the Chair in Indigenous Health position in the Faculty of Health Sciences was ratified by the Board of Trustees. 

READ MORE: Queen’s begins consultations for new Indigenous hiring practices

“It is our intent to recruit someone to this prestigious chair who would have Indigenous ancestry and would be able to demonstrate that. We are working with Janice Hill to provide some assurance to us as we put that forward as a requirement,” Senator Leslie Flynn said.  

Flynn added that the word “ancestry” can’t be used loosely.

COVID-19 updates

Nguyen asked if booster vaccines would be mandated for students attending in-person activities.  Green said Queen’s promotes vaccines but has not changed the current vaccine mandate. 

“I think it's incredibly important for people to get the booster dose [...] At the moment, we have not adopted that into the mandate. But it is our very strong recommendation,” Green said. 

Senator Stephanie Dickey asked whether students wishing to remain online would receive academic accommodations.

“I've received a number of requests from students who are asking to continue the semester remotely for reasons of mental health,” Dickey said.

“I contacted Student Wellness about this—I was told that the official policy is that ‘no,’ that is not an accommodation that can be made—but it is up to the individual faculty member if one wants to make a special arrangement with a particular student.”

“I certainly do want to emphasize the importance of mental health considerations [...] I think that that is something in coming communications. We can look to see if there's any clear guidance that can be provided exactly in that area,” Green said. 

Senator Zaynab Karimjee brought up the concerns of international students and those without stable housing in Kingston, particularly in the context of April examinations.

“We should consider the financial positions of students and how it can be considered somewhat unfair to have students stay in Kingston for just six weeks and to have international students come to Kingston for just six weeks of instruction,” Karimjee said. 

Green responded by saying Queen’s learned a lot from the transitions made in December. 

“Certainly, we do want to keep the needs of students front and center. We did learn additional information from what we were forced to do at the rise of Omicron.”

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