Town hall meeting sparks spirited debate

University hosts two consultative meetings this week to garner input on a long-term enrolment plan

Town hall meeting held in Richardson Hall on Wednesday.
Image by: Colin Tomchick
Town hall meeting held in Richardson Hall on Wednesday.

Students made their opinions known about university enrolment growth at two town hall meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The meetings, organized by the Strategic Enrolment Management Group (SEMG), were held to consult campus stakeholders on a possible long-term plan for the University to expand enrolment.

The original proposal for a long-term plan was passed at Senate last April, following the 2013-15 enrolment report.

The SEMG released a white paper on Long-term Enrolment Planning this month in order take the first steps towards a long -term plan. A “white paper” is a blanket term referring to a report that outlines a specific issue and asks for potential solutions.

The group, which is made up of Queen’s faculty, stated in their white paper that the creation of a long-term plan would be beneficial for future enrolment numbers at the University.

The meeting focused on issues put forward in the white paper, like space restrictions, resource shortages and growing class sizes, that an enrolment increase would bring.

Deputy Provost Laeeque Daneshmend, member of the SEMG, said at the meeting that larger class sizes wouldn’t necessarily lead to a poorer learning experience.

“It is important to try different style of teaching to fit with various types of classes. Students learn in different ways and it is important to try and meet a variety of learning styles within courses,” he said.

“[Larger classes] are not ideal for learning,” Andrew Aulthouse, undergraduate student trustee, said at the meeting. “[But] there are a lot of ways that we can innovate.” Introducing more blended teaching methods would facilitate a better environment when dealing with large classes, Aulthouse, ArtSci ’15, added.

Blended teaching involves including an interactive online element to courses.

He said one of the most interesting ideas suggested on Wednesday was increasing the number of graduate students enrolled instead of undergraduates.

The idea hadn’t been officially posed to the Queen’s community before.

“[Graduate students are] definitely an interesting thing to consider. But that being said, the undergraduate experience is something that’s a part of the University,” he said. “I don’t want to see that damaged.” Aulthouse said that helping the University plan for long-term enrolment is a process that all students should try to participate in.

“A lot of the work we’re doing now, we will never get to see as students.

You can say, ‘oh, this doesn’t affect me’… but we’ll all be Queen’s alumni,” he said. “I do think there is that investment that students should have in this process…we want it to be a Queen’s that we can come back to, and be proud of.” Jonny Coutinho, ConEd ’16, was one of the students who attended.

“[Enrolment] is something that’s going to affect all of us here. It’s going to very much change that Queen’s experience that we have,” he said

Coutinho said that Queen’s already has congestion issues because of its student population.

He said that he agreed with the concept of increasing graduate student enrolment, instead of undergraduate.

“You already wait in line at the cafeteria for a very long time.

“All my classes don’t even have tutorials anymore because we don’t have the capacity to do it,” he said.



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