Senate Recentred: What is Senate?

Senate Recentred is a column written by members of the Student Senate Caucus (SSC) to demystify senate from the inside, out!

What is the UBC Senate?

The UBC Senate is one of the two highest governing bodies at UBC, alongside the Board of Governors. While the latter focuses on the financial matters of the university, the Senate is focused on academic governance.

At UBC, the Senate is divided into the UBC Vancouver and Okanagan Senates, which come together occasionally (by occasionally, more like every 5–10 years) through the Council of Senates.

Within the UBC Vancouver Senate, there are 13 standing committees which focus on a variety of topics such as appeals on academic standing and academic discipline, curriculum, academic building needs and academic policy. Each student senator sits on one to three of these committees, including some representation as committee chairs and vice-chairs.

When and where does the Senate meet? Can I attend?

The Senate meets monthly on the third Wednesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. These meetings are hybrid, and you can watch the livestream of these on the UBC Senate Facebook page or follow along on @UbysseyNews’s Twitter account.

Senate Committee meetings vary depending on the committee. Most committees will meet monthly, although some may meet more or less frequently depending on the work being done. These meetings are typically closed to the public.

Who sits on the Senate?

Senate membership is divided up into various groups including ex officio members, deans and elected faculty and student senators. Of the students, there are eighteen of us — five elected at-large and the remainder elected by their respective faculties with two for graduate and postdoctoral studies, as well.

The Student Senate Caucus (SSC) is the elected student senator forum for discussion and consultation regarding all things Senate. We come together, usually monthly prior to Senate meetings, to share updates on what is happening in our respective committees, discuss the agenda and materials, get updates from AMS and GSS representatives and ultimately coordinate our advocacy to ensure that we can effectively advocate for students in all of our meetings.

The SSC has two co-chairs, Romina Hajizadeh and Laia Shpeller, who coordinate and facilitate these meetings, sort out student senator committee placements, as well as take on additional responsibilities throughout the year when needed.

This year’s SSC has a member chairing the Academic Building Needs Committee, and members vice-chairing the Academic Building Needs, Agenda, Awards and Curriculum Committees.

Your student senators for the 2022-2023 school year are:

Applied Science

  • Laia Shpeller, Student Senate Caucus Co-Chair


  • Emmanuel Cantiller

Commerce and Business Administration

  • Melina Amirsharafi


  • Alex Mitchell


  • TBD, election in progress.


  • Xiutong Tony Jiang

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

  • Jorden Hendry
  • Sam Kenston, GSS President

Land and Food Systems

  • Vivian Li

Allard School of Law

  • Ryan Sissons


  • Bachviet Nguyen

Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • Kanika Khosla


  • Keanna Yu

Members at-Large:

  • Eshana Bhangu, Faculty of Arts, AMS President
  • Romina Hajizadeh, Faculty of Arts, Student Senate Caucus Co-Chair
  • Kamil Kanji, Faculty of Arts
  • Dana Turdy, Faculty of Arts, AMS VP Academic and University Affairs
  • Georgia Yee, Faculty of Science, Board of Governors Representative

Why does Senate matter?

A lot of what the Senate works on pertains heavily to students and we mean a LOT.

Some examples of major motions relevant to students that have recently gone through Senate include the rescinding of former residential school principal Bishop John O’Grady’s honorary degree, the banning of the use of Proctorio for proctoring online exams and the creation of fall reading break!

But besides that, the work we do directly relates to your entire academic experience here at UBC.

Academic calendar changes? That's Senate.

Grading and curriculum policies? Senate.

Conferring your degree? Senate.

As student senators, we’re elected to represent you and ensure that student needs are being met as much as possible.

Shpeller is a fifth-year biomedical engineering student and the Faculty of Applied Science student senator and Student Senate Caucus co-chair. Hajidazeh is a third-year international relations student, senator at-large and Student Senate Caucus co-chair.

If you have any questions for your student senators, you can reach out to the SSC by emailing Shpeller at or Hajizadeh at

Senate Recentred is a column written by the Student Senate Caucus.