Senate Report: July 5, 2021

The Senate discussed extending the elective grading system, delaying the Spring 2022 semester, and their ongoing reconciliation efforts

Photo from Peak archives

Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer 

Elective grading system extension to Spring 2022

Senator Elizabeth Elle brought forth a motion to extend the pilot elective grading system pass/credit/no credit to the Spring 2022 term. It had previously been approved for the Spring 2021, Summer 2021, and Fall 2021 semesters. 

The briefing report stated this “will allow the Registrar’s Office to have sufficient data to inform a full analysis of the program.” They will use this data to determine if the elective grading system will become a permanent system at SFU.

Past registrar Kathryn Verkerk noted the data analysis will look for “how many students opted into the program,” which programs used the grading system most, and how this affected students’ academic performance, among other things.

When asked about whether the system could be expanded to core courses, Verkerk said it will be “available for departments to opt in for required courses.” This means the program plans to stay consistent with its pilot. 

Elle noted they are looking to “hear the student voices” in their consideration of whether this remains beneficial. Senator Daniel Leznoff said the “cost of doing this is exceptionally low. I think the benefits are very high.”

This motion passed unanimously.

Delayed start of Spring 2022 and Summer 2022 semesters

Senator Stephen Spector, the chair of the Calendar Committee,  proposed a motion to delay the beginning of the Spring 2022 and subsequent Summer 2022 classes. The motion suggests beginning the Spring 2022 semester on Monday January 10, 2022 instead of the original Wednesday January 5, 2022. 

Spector explained this is needed to allow instructors and students more time to prepare after New Year’s Day because both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Saturdays. This includes grade processing.

Spector noted this would reduce instructional days from 63 to 61 and extend the exam period to April 26, 2022. 

The motion also moved the Summer 2022 semester courses from May 9, 2022 to May 10. This reduces instructional days from 63 to 62. 

The motion passed unanimously. 

Senator Matt Martell questioned if the Senate should consider moving towards a 12-week schedule instead of 13 weeks. As an instructor, he finds he is left with 12 instructional days and is then forced to rearrange his teaching schedule to accommodate the shrinking semesters. He said switching to 12 week semesters would allow SFU to adjust the course hours accordingly. 

“It may be time to revisit how we are delivering our 39 hours, as students don’t get their full money’s worth in terms of course hours,” said Martell. 

President Joy Johnson said the Senate would not be discussing that matter at this time. Spector noted the Calendar Committee is aware of this concern and in the coming weeks would discuss the 2023 schedule. 

Joy Johnson updated Senate on reconciliation efforts

Content warning: mention of residential schools

“We as a university have been working towards reconciliation across our three campuses,” announced Johnson to the Senate. 

In light of news of the mass graves being recovered under residential schools, Johnson acknowledged the responsibility the university has to support Indigenous communities. 

Her update to the Senate mentioned the SFU flags have remained lowered, the university is working with host nations to enter into a “memorandum of understanding,” and they are exploring ways to “continue our path and deepen our relationships with our local First Nations.”

The Senate proposed a working group to establish a new Indigenous leadership position. The working group is being co-chaired by Squamish counselor, spokesperson, and SFU alumn Chris Lewis and vice president, academic and provost Catherine Dauvergne. 

Johnson also reported they are currently examining ways in which the university can financially support Indigenous students.