Senate Report

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New recreation facility deal

At the SFU Senate meeting on May 19, senators discussed the university’s intent to accept the offer by Collegiate Infrastructure Solutions Inc. (CIS) to build a 50,000 square foot facility in the athletics precinct at no cost to SFU. This would be in exchange for a lease of approximately 3.5 acres of land in Discovery Park, where a school of chiropractic — entirely independent of SFU — would be constructed on the land and released back to SFU after 65 years.

Senator Daniel Leznoff raised the issue during the question period, enquiring after the status of the deal and why it hasn’t been made “common knowledge.”

While the deal is not yet set in stone, president Andrew Petter explained that — based on results from the consultation process — SFU’s board of governors agreed to issue a letter of intent during their June 26, 2014 meeting.

President Petter added that a timeline for construction should be available in four to six months, and planning and design will begin once the agreement between CIS and the BC Chiropractic Association (BCCA) is completed.

International student tuition increase

The student senators’ caucus posed a question to the Senate regarding the Maclean’s rankings revealing a decreasing satisfaction of international students at SFU in what the student senators pointed out to be a “downward trend.”

They articulated a particular concern with increasing tuition and reiterated a request to add a grandfather clause that exempts students who began their degree before the increases were announced, and therefore weren’t expecting to pay the higher fees.

Senator and VP Academic John Driver explained that it is not the responsibility of Senate to set tuition, but he did note that 25 per cent of the increased revenue would be put towards funding bursaries and services for international students.

“With regards to these increases being a surprise, which is the language used in the question, I should let everyone know that these changes were first announced in the fall of 2012, during the budget consultation process,” said Driver. “We made it clear this was a three year planned increase.”

Driver noted that the increases would bring SFU more in line with other BC institutions, and that guaranteeing a fixed price in Canadian dollars would not ensure that the fees wouldn’t change for international students paying in their native currency.

Watches may be disallowed in exams

Senator Tracey Leacock expressed a concern with the specificity of a Senate committee recommendation regarding disallowing watches in final exams.

Senator Panayiotis Pappas explained that it was only meant as a recommendation and provision of support to instructors from the academic integrity committee, should they decide to disallow watches. Furthermore, if they do so, the instructor must ensure that students have access to “live time information.”

The conversation spiralled into a discussion on the specificity of disallowing watches and the university’s ability to keep up with rapidly developing technology.

Senator Lynne Quarmby suggested, “this an arms race we’re destined to lose, and that maybe what we need to be looking at is our teaching and learning and our methods of examining more than beating the technology.”

Senator Leznoff expressed the need to participate in the “arms race” and proposed the use of tracking technology to locate devices being used to access the web during an exam.

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