Senate Report: March 1, 2021

The senate discussed endorsement of the Burnaby Mountain Gondola and changes to the determination of instructional days

Photo from Peak archives

Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer 

Endorsement of the Burnaby Mountain Gondola

Last senate meeting, president Joy Johnson announced SFU is “working really hard to advocate for the gondola [ . . . ] to improve transportation up onto Burnaby Mountain.” Johnson remains “confident that this is the right project and the right time.”

“I wanted to give a real shout out particularly to the students who have been working hard,” said Johnson. She acknowledged SFSS president and senator Osob Mohamed, for her work raising awareness with the media

Johnson also recognized vice-president external Joanne Curry, who has been engaging with Burnaby City Council, as well as Burnaby mayor Mike Hurley.

Johnson said, “We are encouraging people to write letters into the mayor and Council of Burnaby [ . . . ] to advocate for this really important infrastructure for Simon Fraser University.”

Brief on data breach 

Senator Daniel Leznoff requested a briefing on the recent data breach. Leznoff asked for context such as source, intent, potential for ransom, and intervention with law enforcement. 

Johnson replied, “I don’t have a full answer to your question. I do know that there was a ransomware request but we had all the data backed up so we didn’t need to pay any ransom.” She reported that they have been working with RCMP.

According to Johnson, “There have been similar attacks to universities across Canada. Other universities are really experiencing a great deal of difficulty.” She said SFU is continuing to think carefully about data breaches in the future. 

Senator Colin Percival, who specializes in computer security, said, “[With] these sort of widespread attacks, people are going after money.” He acknowledged there are some organizations that undergo targeted attacks for information, yet concluded this attack is not likely consistent with this goal. 

Calendar Committee alters semester instruction day guidelines

Senator Stephen Spector proposed a motion to recommend that the guidelines for the amount of instructional days fall between 60 to 63. This is to replace the guideline of strictly 63 instructional days which has been in place since 2003. 

Spector explained, “The requirement to have 63 days of instruction worked fine, until the Olympics,” which is when the provincial government mandated a spring semester reading week. 

At this point, Spector said SFU “quickly ran into a situation where there simply weren’t enough days in the year” to maintain the strict 63 instructional day requirement as per the 2003 motion, which also required classes to begin on a Monday.

The policy would allow for some flexibility while aiming for the full 63 days. Senator Daniel Leznoff voiced concerns that overtime instruction would be compromised if calendars are repeatedly approved at 63 days. 

The motion was approved as each calendar will be approved individually by the senate. Johnson noted that if there are concerns around instructional days, they can be discussed when the semester arrives.