Senate Briefs — Sept. 14

    (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    The Senate’s Feb. 11, 2021 decision to keep the president’s report in-camera, meaning in private, has been overturned, allowing The Aquinian to cover this part of the Senate again.

    Irving’s $2M funding approved

    The St. Thomas University Senate approved the $2 million donation from Irving Oil and the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation to increase access to education with no votes against and two abstentions from Janice Harvey, professor of environment and society, and Matthew Robinson, philosophy professor. 

    “While we are certainly as an institution in need of funding … at the same time, I think there’s an important conflict with what many of us are teaching at the institution, which is the problems with continuing to burn oil,” said Robinson. 

    “There’s some sort of tension between the source of these important funds and the mission of the university.”

    Back in March, the university forecasted an operating budget deficit of $420,000. The year before, the deficit was $500,000.

    Concerns on Report on Academic Accommodations

    Dawne Clarke, a professor of criminology, expressed concerns about the academic accommodations report, stating that it does not address her accessibility concerns regarding attendance.

    She said that, while she understands many students need to put off classes for accessibility reasons, she has noticed some students abusing this system. Clarke adds there is currently no guidance for professors on how to deal with this issue.  

    “I don’t think it’s all accessibility students. I’m not saying that. What I am saying is there’s no mechanism in the current structure for faculty who are struggling with students with accommodations, specifically students who seem to see accessibility as carte blanche,” she said. 

    Nauman Farooqi, STUS’s president, suggested a possible solution would be to assign extra assignments for students who miss a certain number of classes to make sure they are still on track. 

    Kim Fenwick, vice president of academics and research, said she would take Clarke’s concerns back to the committee.

    Enrolment numbers 

    During the president’s report, Farooqi said enrolment numbers for first-year students are higher than last year, with a 10% increase on first-year students and over 30% for new international students. 

    The official report on student numbers comes out on Oct. 1, so the current numbers could still change.