Senate discusses Indigenous Student Verification Policy

Senate passes changes to Engineering Bridging Pathway

Senate is still operating with a hybrid model.

At Senate on Tuesday, Principal Patrick Deane spoke to student involvement in elections, the exploitation of international students, and tuition freezes. The meeting was held in a hybrid format with senators joining from Robert Sutherland Hall and through Zoom.

Senate also discussed the Indigenous Student Verification Policy and passed the Bachelor of Applied Sciences Bridging Program.

According to Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of Student Affairs, Queen’s has expanded outreach to first-generation students, racialized students, and Indigenous students. She acknowledged a “constant need” to increase resources, especially counselors.

“We’ve done extensive work with our counseling staff,” Tierney said. “This work is ongoing.”

Indigenous Student Verification Policy

Senate discussed the implementation Queen’s Indigenous Student Verification Policy, which aims to develop a university-wide policy for financial awards, support services, and additional resources specific to Indigenous students.

It was approved by Queen’s Indigenous Council on Sept. 11, 2021 and discussed at length at Senate for clarification and to answer questions for attendees and Senators.

Under the policy, registered students who wish to obtain such resources must submit documentation of their Indigenous identity. This documentation is collected and managed by the Office of the University Registrar and verified by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.

Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), told Senate the process has been adapted alongside a reference group on Aboriginal education.

Hill added “sister institutions” are utilizing similar processes to verify Indigenous identity.

The verification process requires documentation in the form of nation cards, land entitlements, or beneficiary cards. For those who can’t obtain documentation, community verification such as holding leadership positions may be an alternative, Hill said.

Senator Jordan Morelli highlighted discrepancies in the Indigenous verification process for students and staff. These discrepancies may affect individuals who are both, he said.

“We’re exposing people to multiple policies simultaneously,” Morelli said.

In response, Hill said policymaking is in process, and “quite possibly” the same policy will be applied to faculty members in the future.

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives is in the process of forming an oversight council, Hill added.

“I hope students who may also be faculty or staff are not caught unaware, or that their position would be in jeopardy by any means,” Hill said.

Bachelor of Applied Science Engineering Technology Bridging Pathway

Senate passed changes to extend the Bachelor of Applied Science Engineering Technology Bridging Pathway, effective on Sept. 1, 2023.

The program allows Engineering Technology students at St. Lawrence College and Cambrian College to transfer into the Queen’s Bachelor of Applied Science civil and mining engineering second-year program.

Senator Brian Frank told Senate he consulted a variety of groups in the process, including colleges representing a high number of Indigenous students. The program looks at improving support services through counseling and peer counseling initiatives, he said.

Principal’s Report

In his report, Principal Patrick Deane spoke about his commitment to ensuring international students are not exploited, citing obtaining work permits as the main issue.

Tierney commented on recruiting practices, saying international advisors and agents that work with students are “forbidden” to provide immigration counseling.

In Deane’s report to Senate he said, he is continuing to lobby the provincial government to end tuition freezes, along with the Council of Ontario Universities and his university presidents.

The measure was implemented by the Ontario government in early 2019. Fees have been frozen since 2020 when the Province reduced tuition fees for the 2019-20 academic year by 10 per cent.

“No decision has been made as of yet, but discussions are ongoing,” Deane wrote in his report.

Senator Beth Langdon asked Deane if the university would work closely with the municipality to have voting on campus.

“Most definitely so,” Deane responded. “Not only for the municipal elections but all elections.”

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