Senate Summed Up: Senators refer Allard admission changes back to faculty, approve Indigenous admission pathway for faculty of dentistry

Admissions processes were the focus of Wednesday night’s UBC Vancouver Senate meeting.

At the meeting, senators sent a proposed change to the Allard School of Law admissions process back to the faculty for further consideration and approved a pathway for Indigenous applicants into the faculty of dentistry.

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Returned to sender

Following a lengthy discussion, senators voted to refer a motion on changes to Allard’s admission process back to the faculty to conduct more consultations and provide a clearer explanation of what a broad-based application process entails.

Professor Carol Jaeger, chair of the Senate Admissions Committee, presented the motion that proposed only excluding the courses applicants were taking at the time of submitting their application from their GPA calculation.

Currently, the faculty drops the lowest 12 credits from applicants’ transcripts — which would have ended with the passing of this motion. According to the motion’s rationale, the previous practice of dropping the lowest 12 credits did not make sense following the faculty's shift to a broad-based application process in 2019.

Allard Student Senator Ryan Sissons said he thought the motion was being rushed and that the Law Students’ Society felt that it was not consulted enough before the proposal was sent to the Senate.

He also said that while he appreciates the mentality of the proposed changes, he thought the motion could harm some students by making them write about traumatic events in their application in order to explain why they might have low marks on their transcript.

“It seems wrong for us to just eliminate the GPA drops without really replacing it with anything other than being like you can self report your trauma to us, or you can self report the issues that you had growing up,” he said.

Allard Dean Ngai Pindell and Allard Associate Professor Dr. James Stewart both said the consultation process for the motion was robust and took place over multiple years. Stewart also said he was uncomfortable that the Senate might be acting as an appeal to a process that already happened.

Dr. Hisham Zeriffi asked for greater clarification on what a broad-based admissions process meant and Dr. Claudia Krebs asked for the faculty to provide an explanation if the motion was referred back to them.

The motion to refer the proposed changes back to Allard eventually passed.

Senators approve Indigenous admissions pathway for dentistry

Senators also had a long discussion around a motion to create a new Indigenous admissions pathway for the faculty of dentistry — which also originated from the Admissions Committee.

While there was consensus on the intent of the motion to increase the number of enrolled Indigenous students in the Doctor of Dental Medicine program, some senators expressed concern with the pathway’s requirement for official documentation to prove one’s identity.

Education Dean pro tem Jan Hare, who is Anishinaabe from the M’Chigeeng First Nation, said she was worried about asking Indigenous students to present documentation and that the NITEP program in the faculty of education just requires students to self-identify.

“I think there are other processes that can be worked through to then establish identity claims other than needing your identification [to be] approved by some other organization — in some instances, a colonial organization or government,” she said.

Dr. Charles Menzies, who is a member of the Gitxaala Nation, echoed Hare’s concern and suggested that the faculty ask for community references. Student Senator Jordyn Hendry, who identifies as Tsimishian and settler, agreed that using community references was a good alternative.

Dentistry Dean Mary MacDougall said the language of the motion was written to reflect language used by other health faculties for similar admissions pathways.

Dr. Roger Wong , the vice-dean of education in the faculty of medicine, said that medicine asks Indigenous applicants to provide some form of identification — which includes a status or enrolment card, as well as a letter from a recognized Indigenous organization. He also said that these applicants can contact the admissions office if they have questions around what counts as proof.

Dr. Anubhav Pratap-Singh motioned to amend the language of the motion to say some evidence of identity is required, instead of listing specific options.

Senators approved the amended motion on the condition that the Admissions Committee reviews the language one last time.

— with files from Anabella McElroy