Senate Summed Up: Senators discuss international agreements, student senator ineligible to serve

UBC's Vancouver Senate met Wednesday night to discuss international agreements, vote on approving new courses and appoint senators to take over responsibilities after the removal of a student senator. 

Here is what you might have missed. 

Student senator not eligible to serve 

Anisha Sandhu, who was recently appointed senator-at-large to fill Dana Turdy's position after her resignation, is no longer eligible to serve as a senator.

In an email to The Ubyssey, the senate office wrote that to be a student senator someone must be “presently enrolled at a university in a credit course or who is designated by resolution of the senate as a student.” 

It is unclear why Sandhu does not meet this requirement, as The Ubyssey previously reported Sandhu was taking one course to serve as AMS VP academic and university affairs.

The email also stated the Vice Chair of Senate, Eshana Bhangu, was notified about these requirements prior to the meeting, but the information “may not have been relayed to other members [in] the caucus.”

Student Senators Laia Shpeller, Kamil Kanji and Romina Hajizadeh will take over Turdy's committee appointments.  

Waiting on international agreements policy  

Discussion arose around international agreements when a motion came forward for the approval of an affiliation between Peter A. Allard School of Law with the Faculty of Law at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

Senator Julian Dierkes expressed concerns about entering an agreement with Thailand as it “ranks roughly with Iran on academic freedom.” He said senate is not “getting answers from anyone” about the possible risks of adopting this policy.

Senator Charles Menzies proposed deferring this motion until after the Provost's office presents a report on entering international agreements with institutions in countries with human rights violations. 

Provost Gage Averill said the report on "expressions of values and beliefs about partnerships" is being worked on, but he does not know when it will be presented. 

Student Senator Emmanuel Cantiller expressed disappointment in the lack of updates about the report, as discussions about the international agreement have been ongoing for the past year. 

Menzies’ motion to defer passed.

New courses, new problems

Senators also approved a new chemistry course and voted to send a new MBA Climate Career track back to the Curriculum Committee.

Both motions were included in an omnibus motion on several new courses and programs, but Student Senator Holly Patraschuk requested that CHEM 141 and the MBA track be voted on individually.

Patraschuck expressed concerns with CHEM 141 because she believed it would limit collaboration with other faculties and not provide an equitable experience for students. CHEM 141 would include a heavier lab component tailored to students interested in lab focused sciences. It would be equivalent to CHEM 121. 

Senator Jaclyn Stewart said the class was created after a two-year review within the science department to determine how to best meet the needs of students. 

Senator Shpeller also raised concerns about how registration would work. She proposed it would be better if students showed their previous lab experience before registering, opposed to the regular open registration method which is set by high school grades and is first come first serve. 

CHEM 141 was ultimately approved. 

For the MBA Climate Career track, Patraschuk raised concerns about how an Indigenous engagement course was not a requirement for the degree. She and other senators said that not requiring this course went against goals outlined in UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan.

Senator Kin Lo — who teaches in Sauder — pointed to the limited availability of resources to provide the course to the projected number of students in the MBA. He also said that the MBA program draws in many international students who might not be as concerned with Indigenous engagement.

Senator Jorden Henry pushed back against Lo’s comments, saying Indigenous people exist around the world and thus the course is relevant beyond the Canadian context. 

The MBA Climate Career Track was sent back to Curriculum Committee for further deliberation.