Senate Recentred: StEAR progress report, generative AI, and international partnerships

The Senate meets monthly to discuss and vote on UBC academic matters. But Senate can often be hard to understand for the average student and the agenda docket can be super long and dull to read.

Senate Recentred is written by members of the Student Senate Caucus to demystify Senate by giving students a snapshot of what Senate is doing this month.

Here’s what to expect at the May 15 Senate meeting.

StEAR progress report

Dr. Arig al Shaibah, associate vice-president, equity and inclusion, will be presenting on the progress of the Strategic Equity and Anti-Racism Framework. Here’s some things we found notable:

Progress on Strategic Actions: The StEAR typo Framework outlines strategic actions, such as building more multi-faith prayer spaces and creating an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Education Hub. Out of the 93 institution-wide strategic actions,50 per cent of the actions are in progress, 2 per cent are pending confirmation, 27 per cent are completed/ongoing, 17 per cent are not yet started and 4 per cent on hold. Out of the 41 strategic actions at UBC Vancouver, 44 per cent are in progress, 5 per cent are pending confirmation, 32 per cent are completed/ongoing, 19 per cent are not yet started and 4 per cent are on hold.

Executive Demographics: The report outlines the demographics of the UBC executives and UBC executive senior leadership and compares it to the demographics of senior managers nationwide. The UBC executive group had a higher representation of women and racialized people, but no representation of Indigenous, disabled, non-binary, Transgender and 2SLGBQIA+ people. The executive senior leadership group had aligned representation of Indigenous and racialized people but a lower representation of women, no representation of non-binary and transgender people and less than five 2SLGBQIA+ people. 

Student Survey Responses: In 2021, 31 per cent of respondents agreed that “UBC is committed to the wellbeing of its people, place, and community.” That fell to just 24 per cent in 2022, with the answer being a shockingly-low 10 per cent for Transgender and non-binary students. 

Large, new awards

Twelve new endowed awards, 16 new annual awards, and onenew internal award are being voted on for approval. Some of the largest include:

  • An $80,000 fellowship for MFA students in the department of art history, visual art and theory; 
  • A $10,000 entrance award for outstanding international undergraduate students;
  • A $20,000 award for BCom students who are participating in the Sauder Women+ in Finance Trainin program;
  • A $20,000 entrance award for an outstanding domestic student who is academically strong, in need of financial assistance and identifies as Black; 
  • A $25,000 fellowship for graduate students in the department of political science;
  • A $134,000 in renewable entrance awards (worth $6,700 each) for outstanding undergraduate domestic students in need of financial assistance; and
  • A $50,000 in renewable entrance awards for outstanding domestic students pursuing a BASc or BSc program with financial need.

Draft generative AI principles and guidelines

The provost is presenting a document called “Draft Principles and Guidelines for Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) in Teaching and Learning”, a comprehensive 1-page document of proposed rules for the use of AI at UBC. Some notable guidelines include:

  • Instructors may not use AI detection tools unless the detector has gone through a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA).
  • Instructors may use AI tools to test the resiliency of their assignments against AI, but should recognize that the assignments submitted will be used to train the AI. 
  • GenAI tools may be used for both formative feedback and grading only if they have been through a PIA review and been approved. 
  • Instructors may not mandate use of AI in assignments or other forms of assessment. 
  • Indigenous data sovereignty, protocols, and risks of harm and ethical considerations will be emphasized, recognizing inequitable access to AI, stereotyping in AI responses and the importance of following the ISP and other equity plans.

International partnerships

Based on the recommendation of the Curriculum Committee and the Admissions Committee, the Student Senate Caucus will ve oting to approve the creation of a new partnership and a dual degree with the University of Helsinki, the Master's of Forestry in Green Business (UBC) and Master's of Science in Agriculture and Forestry (Helsinki).

Additionally, the Admissions Committee released a report of all international partnerships that they approved and renewed via their delegated authority. It is important to note, due to the current geopolitical context and the ongoing protests, that this report included the renewal of partnerships with Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, (approved November 2023), Tel Aviv University (approved November 2023) and Hebrew University of Jerusalem (approved March 2024). 

This will be the last regular meeting of the Senate until September 2024.

If you have questions for the Student Senate Caucus, you can email co-chairs Kareem Hassib at khassib@student.ubc.ca and Jasper Lorien at jasper.lorien@gmail.com.