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May 23, 2002 Senate Notes



A regular meeting of the Concordia University Senate, held on May 10, 2002

Electronic devices in exams: Ted Stathopoulos (ENCS) introduced a motion to ban electronic communications devices in examination rooms, explaining that because the invigilators had no clear guidelines, they could be persuaded by a student that such a device was being used to keep track of the time when it was in fact being used to communicate with a source of exam information. After some discussion about what electronic devices were in fact necessary for some exams, the motion was passed.

Teaching grants:
Provost and Vice-Rector Research Jack Lightstone announced that after 12 years, the $74,000 set aside annually for faculty teaching development grants had served its purpose. Since in recent years larger numbers of new faculty are being hired, this money would be put to better use in the orientation programs being developed by the Centre for Teaching and Learning Services in conjunction with the faculties.

University bylaws: The overhaul of these bylaws continued. There was discussion on the question of whether Senate should have final authority on curriculum changes, or whether that authority should rest with the faculty councils. At present, the bylaws say the latter, but Lightstone pointed out that in practice, this rule is often flouted. This question remained unresolved, and the provost and deans are to discuss it further.

An effort to enshrine the current Senate student eligibility regulation in the bylaws and to extend this regulation to students sitting on the Board of Governors encountered strong opposition from the student senators, because the proposal would exclude independent students, i.e. students not registered in an academic program. This affected a proposal regarding eligibility for membership, and for voting rights.

The Concordia Student Union feels that its accreditation as a union gives it complete authority to name its representatives, and that this constituency is being disenfranchised.

Patrice Blais (CSU) said that Concordia has about 3,000 independent students, and while most are not particularly interested in student politics, others, such as (former CSU president) Rob Green and Muslim Students Association president Bilal Hamideh, had made significant contributions to student life. Some faculty and administration senators expressed the view, however, that Senate is entitled to set its own rules for membership, and since it is the highest academic authority of the university, all members should be demonstrably committed to its programs of study.

Blais presented a proposal for student membership in Senate and the Board just approved by the CSU council of representatives. It calls for 10 undergraduate seats on Senate: the CSU president and VP academic, two council members, one appointed by council, one student elected by each of the faculties, and one elected by independent students.

Peter Rist (Fine Arts) asked if it was conceivable that six of the 10 student senators (the first five and the last-named, above) could be independent students, to which Blais replied that it was as likely as “Jean-Marie Le Pen becoming president of France.”

Although Blais proposed a last-minute compromise amendment that would have permitted a maximum of one independent student on Senate, it was defeated, 9 for, 14 opposed. The motion itself, to continue to allow only program students to sit on Senate, passed, 16 for, 5 against.

There was also discussion of how student senators should reflect their constituencies. Two proposals regarding Senate membership were briefly considered. The first, by Commerce and Administration Students Association president Cristelle Basmaji, would have spelled out representation by Faculty, i.e., five from Arts and Science, two from the John Molson School of Business, two from Engineering and Computer Science, and one from Fine Arts.

Asked for his view, General Counsel Bram Freedman said this much detail could be problematic vis-a-vis the CSU’s accreditation. After discussion, it was agreed that the CSU would name their 10 senators as they wish, provided there was representation from each faculty and senators were enrolled in an academic program.

A second proposal, by Céline Leduc, of the Graduate Students Association, would have increased graduate students’ membership on senate from two members to four, and would ensure representation of the JMSB and ENCS graduate students. This was described by Lightstone as Senate reform rather than a clean-up of bylaws, and better suited to another discussion.

Next meeting: May 24