The McGill Senate convened on March 24 to vote on several motions and present annual reports from various branches of university governance, including the Senate Nominating Committee and the Board of Governors (BoG). Governors approved PGSS Academic Affairs Officer Sophie Osiecki’s appointment to the Senate’s Committee on Student Grievances and also discussed a report on sexual violence.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier provided an update on campus affairs, focussing heavily on planning for the Fall 2021 semester, which reiterated much of the same information that the administration had shared previously with students and faculty. Fortier believes that the March 12 virtual town hall on planning the Fall 2021 semester, which drew almost 2,000 participants, was a success.
“Based on what the team is monitoring, it is probably to be expected that we will not see the very worst case scenario nor the most optimistic, but probably something in between,” Fortier said. “This is based on the rate of vaccination, the evolution of the virus in our community, [and] the effectiveness of the vaccine. All of these factors are being monitored in terms of trying to get a sense of what Fall 2021 could [look like].”
The Senate was briefed on several topics including McGill University’s recent partnership with University of the People, a not for profit organization intended to provide affordable education to those in need. They also discussed the progress of the McGill24 fundraising campaign, and the upcoming plans for McGill’s bicentennial launch.
The meeting continued with an update from the Associate Provost of Equity and Academic Policies Angela Campbell on McGill’s current Policy against Sexual Violence.
“There are four aspects to the report that cover the four main objectives of the policy,” Campbell said. “[They are] prevention through education of sexual violence, establishing and maintaining a climate and culture in which all members of the community enjoy a safe and respectful learning and working environment, survivor support, and effective and timely response to reports.”
Next, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Fabrice Labeau presented the university’s annual enrolment report, providing an overview of the university’s progress towards the goals set out in McGill’s Strategic Academic Plan (2017-2022). The plan seeks to increase the number of applicants from Quebec CEGEPS and colleges, francophones, and Indigenous students, and maintain current international student enrolment rates.
Senator Leela Riddle-Merritte questioned Labeau on the inclusion of Black students in McGill’s enrolment goals and reports. Labeau explained the challenges Enrolment Services face when obtaining McGill’s demographic statistics. He outlined what steps are being put in place to gain a better understanding of the composition of the student body.
“The question of including Black students in these reports and numbers goes back to another complicated problem that we have when we are dealing with underrepresented groups in our students is the self-identification or identification for the sake of statistics,” Labeau said. “We are making progress here in terms of having a better sense of who is applying to McGill and who is at McGill through student surveys that we are now doing at the student [intake-level].”
Moment of the Meeting:
Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier started the meeting with memorial tributes to two McGill professors who recently passed away. The Senate honoured Emeritus Professor Mario Onyszchuk of the Department of Chemistry and Emeritus Professor Francisco Galiana of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
“We are also running outreach programming that we are co-creating with Indigenous communities. We have had two Indigenous outreach associates help us build programming and launch it in collaboration with McGill students. We have recently hired a Black community outreach associate who will be building on that model and developing relationships in the Black community to deliver a similar kind of outreach programming directly there.”
– University Registrar and Executive Director of Enrolment Services Gillian Nycum on steps to improve outreach in under-represented communities.