Senate Report: May 25, 2021

Senate discusses plans to return to campus and implement a new master’s degree in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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Written by: Jaymee Salisi, News Writer

Return to campus update

Vice president academic and provost Catherine Dauvergne said SFU is aiming for a “70–80% return to in-person teaching, research, and engagement activities. 

“There are some parts of our campus where that will be more like 100% and other parts where it will be struggling to get to 70%.” This plan is set to begin in September 2021.

She said the university’s plan follows the BC provincial government’s recently announced restart plan, which is based on projections for up to 70% of the population to be vaccinated with the first dose by September 7, 2021.

According to president Joy Johnson, vaccinations will not be required for any SFU members to return to campus.

She added, “I’m not going to entertain a lot of questions on this topic,” but allowed computing science professor Lyn Bartram to express concerns.

“With no guarantee that there is a safe level of vaccination among the university population, how are we expected to go back to what cannot be guaranteed a safe workplace?” Bartram asked. She added that professors and their families may be immunocompromised. 

Johnson responded that for those who might have health reasons against returning to campus, “there is a legal requirement for us to make sure there is appropriate accommodation [ . . . ] We will make plans to accommodate people as required. 

“The safest thing you can do is get yourself vaccinated. That’s the best way you can protect yourself and those around you, your family, and your community.”

She said the university understands there are concerns and they are planning for a safe return to campus.

Program proposal for a Master of Arts in Indigenous Languages and Linguistics

Chair of senate graduate studies committee Jeff Derksen proposed the implementation of a Master of Arts in Indigenous Languages and Linguistics program within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences by Fall 2022.

Taking place at all three SFU campuses, the program will be delivered in collaboration with Indigenous communities. 

The motion read, “These principles were developed in collaboration with Elders, language teachers, and community language coordinators in our various partner communities, and in consultation with the local universities, school districts, and First Nations organizations who employ our students.” 

The program proposal comes from the concerns of Indigenous communities in BC and the Yukon who face a “rapid decline in the number of first language speakers.”

This motion was carried.