Senate Summed Up: Senators approve affiliation agreement with BCLU, say goodbye to Santa

On Wednesday night, the UBC Vancouver Senate met for a hybrid session — the first meeting with an in-person component since the start of the pandemic — to discuss an agreement for the UBC’s Faculty of Education and to say goodbye to President Santa Ono.

Here’s what you might have missed.

Senators approves agreement between Faculty of Education and Chinese university

Following a lengthy discussion, senators approved an affiliation agreement between the Faculty of Education and Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU).

Under the agreement, the Faculty of Education will look to admit 18 to 25 BLCU graduates for the Modern Language (Mandarin) and English teachable subjects option within the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) program. BCLU applicants will still need to meet the same admission requirements — which BCLU will promote to potential applicants — as other students.

According to Senator Carol Jaeger, who presented the motion as chair of the Admissions Committee, the agreement will expand UBC’s relationship with BLCU and increase the number of international students within the B.Ed program.

Some senators said they were not comfortable forming an agreement with a Chinese university, citing human rights violations in the Xinjiang region and Hong Kong.

Dr. Anna Kindler, who Jaeger described as a “champion of [the] proposal,” said the agreement is “strictly [an] academic collaboration” and that it is consistent with UBC’s practice of not restricting student attendance based on their location.

Faculty senator Charles Menzies and Student Senator and Vice President Academic and University Affairs Dana Turdy asked for updates on the Senate's discussions around entering agreements with countries that commit human rights violations.

Christopher Eaton, clerk to the Senate, said he has been in communication with the new Associate Vice-Provost, international to discuss the  topic as soon as possible.

Those in support of the motion echoed Jaeger’s earlier comments on increasing the number of international students in the B.Ed program.

Education Dean pro tem Jan Hare added that the agreement would help address “linguistic racism” teacher candidates face .

“Bringing students in as a cohort model through this formal rental agreement does allow us to create resources that, again, not only support this cohort of students that are coming in, but actually allows us to build capacity for much needed resources that will address the linguistic diversity,” she said. 

The motion eventually passed, with five opposed and several abstentions.

So long, farewell

Last night marked Ono’s last meeting as president of UBC, as he is set to leave Vancouver for the same role at the University of Michigan on October 15.

At the end of the meeting, Senator John Gilbert took time to thank Ono for his work at UBC and with the Senate over the past six years.

“Sitting as I do now outside of the university’s administration, I've come to respect Santa’s integrity, his collegiality and his vision for our university,” he said.

Gilbert’s speech elicited many reactions from senators, including laughs when he cited former US President Calvin Coolidge’s saying, “Changing a college curriculum is like moving a graveyard. You never know how many friends the dead have until you try to move them.”

Provost and Vice-President Academic pro tem Dr Gage Averill also spoke to express his admiration for Ono’s work, particularly leading the “cantankerous group” of senators.

Ono responded by thanking everyone and extending an invitation to contact him if anyone is ever in Ann Arbor.

“Really, it has been an honour of my life to be associated with this institution,” he said.