Senate Recentred: What you need to know about the October Senate meeting

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 October 19 Senate meeting.

First Senate meeting for Interim President Dr. Deborah Buszard

This will be the first UBC Vancouver Senate meeting with our new chair, interim UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deborah Buszard. As the acting president and vice-chancellor, Buszard will be chairing the meeting, confirming items approved by the Board of Governors that were previously approved in Senate and approving candidates for degrees effective November 2022.

UBC might become SAT/ACT test optional

The Senate Admissions Committee is bringing forward a motion to remain test-optional for undergraduate US applicants. The SAT and ACT became optional during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this motion would extend this permanently for the future.

Motion to add new Master of Occupational Therapy Distributed Program cohort

This motion being brought by the Senate Admissions Committee will extend the Master of Occupational Therapy Distributed Program to the Fraser Health region, which will help to “better meet the healthcare needs” of the Fraser Valley. If approved, the program will have two cohort sites: the North Cohort at the University of Northern British Columbia and the Fraser Valley Cohort at UBC Surrey.  

Report on SEI Survey recommendations

The Senate Teaching and Learning Committee will be presenting their Final Report on Student Experience of Instructions (SEI) Survey Recommendations. 

In May 2020, the Student Evaluations of Teaching Working Group presented a report to the Senate with 16 recommendations. Currently, 9 of the 16 initial recommendations are complete, with 3 in progress, 3 ongoing and 1 labeled as being within the Senate's purview. Work that will continue includes progressing in “investigating and testing automated systems for analyzing text comments,” a “dual-campus working group… to develop Senate policies for evaluation of teaching” and “regular analyses of SEI data done by [Planning and Institutional Resource Office (PAIR)], including for bias”.

Motion to change faculty membership in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

A motion proposing changes for eligibility of membership in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FGPS). These changes will clarify their membership criteria and limit membership by making Educational Leadership (EL) Faculty ineligible. EL Faculty include Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors of Teaching. EL Faculty has high representation of many equity-seeking groups who will now be actively excluded from FGPS within UBC Policy if this motion passes. 

Motion to change the Faculty of Land & Food Systems year promotion and academic standing

If you are in LFS, the Senate Academic Policy Committee is bringing forth revisions regarding the faculty’s promotion and standing for approval this Wednesday. If passed, criteria for academic standing will no longer depend on the number of credits you are enrolled in for the winter session. Good academic standing will be sessional averages 60 per cent or greater, and academic probation will be sessional averages greater than 50 per cent but below 60 per cent. Students will have failed standing status if they either reach a sessional average below 50 per cent or if they meet conditions for academic probation two sessions in a row.

Motion to add supplemental exams to the PharmD program, another motion to suspend it

The Academic Policy Committee is motioning to allow, in specific circumstances, supplemental examinations in the Flexible Doctor of Pharmacy program (PharmD) — which are currently not allowed.

Another motion, brought by the Admissions Committee, seeks to suspend admission to this program effective for the 2023 Winter Session onwards. The materials state that all students currently in the PharmD program will be supported through to graduation.

The PharmD program is intended for current pharmacists who wish to further their careers while also working part or full time.

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. This article was written in consultation with the Student Senate Caucus.

If you have questions for the Student Senate Caucus, you can email co-chairs Laia Shpeller at and Romina Hajizadeh at

Senate Recentred is a column written by members of the Student Senate Caucus to demystify senate from the inside, out.