Letter: Students and staff need to be consulted with changes to the faculty of applied science

The past year in the faculty of applied science has been turbulent. Our faculty has seen the announcement of the departure of the dean, the delayed introduction of a new undergraduate program and significant changes proposed to the co-operative education program (co-op).  

As engineering students, we are concerned about the capacity of the faculty to continue to deliver the quality of our UBC education. Over the past two days, substantive changes have been made to the faculty of applied science leadership. These changes create damaging gaps in the student experience. As such, we decided it was necessary to speak up.

The largest concern that currently exists surrounds the culture of consultation, with the most recent case being the suggested changes to the co-op program. Student feedback and consultation have been dismissed in favour of the desire to move forward with new initiatives at a rapid pace. This has disenfranchised individuals across the faculty who have no longer felt their opinions are valued.

By removing the director of co-op while in the midst of an external review being led by the provost’s office — which was unaware of the impending changes — the faculty has shown its dismissal of numerous reports and consultations that have been conducted with relevant stakeholders. The EUS sees significant risk that the next steps of the faculty will be tone deaf to the reports and consultations. Students are severely concerned with the change of leadership of this program.

With the impending arrival of a new dean, applied science is embarking on one of its most pivotal years in recent memory. The structural changes taken in recent days by the team under the outgoing dean come at the 11th hour of his tenure. We feel further decisions are best left to the new permanent leadership team who can engage the entire engineering community in shaping the faculty for the coming years.

University leadership requires a careful balance of patience, consultation and community engagement whenever introducing new ideas — qualities that have been notably absent in recent times. The future indicates a great deal of uncertainty and as the voice for engineering students, we can only predict the worst.

First and foremost, the EUS highlights the necessity of a cultural shift within applied science such that students, staff and faculty alike feel as though they are an integral part of the decision-making process. Furthermore, we request the careful consideration of the impact of upcoming decisions on the incoming permanent faculty leadership team. Finally, the EUS reminds the faculty of their obligation to contribute to the university’s collective excellence.

Jeanie Malone, Jakob Gattinger, Mark Bancroft, Daniel Luo, Quentin Golsteyn and Veronica Knott are engineering students. Each of these individuals has served or will be serving as an EUS executive in a role directly responsible for academic advocacy.