University Governance

Theresa Wong

You’ve read about the AMS so now you’re likely wondering, ‘How is the university itself governed?’ Here’s the answer in three parts.

UBC’s Vancouver Senate

UBC’s Vancouver Senate is the organization that’s tasked with anything related to academics at the Vancouver campus. The Senate deals with the high-level stuff like admissions policy and doling out awards to the minutiae of curricula requirements and the upkeep of campus’s lovely libraries. Keeping with their huge mandate, the Senate’s membership is massive — totalling nearly 90 members, and that’s with a few seats left unfilled! As students, you elect 18 peers to the body — broken down, that’s 1 representative per faculty, 2 from graduate studies and 5 at-large members. The biggest news out of the Senate recently has been the end of a decades-long fight for a fall reading break — 2021/22’s students will be taking time off in the middle of first semester, reinforcing the Senate’s unofficial slogan: ‘better late than never.’

Board of Governors (BoG)

They’re responsible for deciding what the university does in a non-academic capacity, which is a lot more than you’d think. BoG manages the unceded Musqueam territory now known as the University Endowment Lands, UBC’s non-academic university policy — on such topics like sexual violence and misconduct — and liaises with municipal, provincial and federal governments. Overall, a breezy mandate. BoG’s a bit skinnier with its 21-member board, 2 of whom must be students from UBC Vancouver. For 2020/21, your reps are Board veterans Jeanie Malone and Max Holmes, though with the student seats being elected yearly, it could be you in that chair/Zoom call come April 2021!

The administration itself

Since the Senate meets monthly and the BoG every two months, UBC admin are the suits who run the day-to-day of this billion-dollar business. Led by UBC President Santa Ono, the executive also comprises seven VPs who deal with everything from accounting and finance to shaping the student experience at UBC. They take their heading from the BoG and Senate, but exercise considerable discretion when it comes to the granular stuff. While each department will swear up and down it takes student opinion into consideration, there’s few concrete policies that ensure that — the AMS and GSS are the main bodies which liaise with the admin on students’ behalf, which is part of what makes it so important that you keep and eye on those folks and hold them accountable. Vote, folks.

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