McGill, News

McGill Senate presents annual report on Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism

The McGill Senate assembled remotely on Oct. 20 to discuss several reports, including the 2020-2021 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Strategic Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Plan, and the 2020-21 Annual Report on the Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism. The Senate also approved the 506th Report of the Academic Policy Committee. 

During her welcoming remarks, principal and vice-chancellor Suzanne Fortier was optimistic about the Quebec government’s estimate that 94.9 per cent of the McGill student body is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“That is very good news. I think our experts were telling us to aim for 95 per cent, so we are very close to our target. Within the staff community, the latest data are a bit older, it was two weeks ago, and at that point it was 91.2 per cent.” 

Fortier also announced that the administration plans to increase the amount of in-person activities for the winter term. 

“We will continue to be prudent, but are aiming to increase slightly the percentage of activities that will be done in person,” Fortier said. “We do know from our students that they very much want to have their academic activities in person on our campuses.”

Provost and vice-principal (Academic) Christopher Manfredi presented the Report of the Academic Policy Committee, which included revisions to the academic structure for the School of Continuing Studies

“These are revisions to the academic organizational structure of the School of Continuing Studies, which has not changed since 1968,” Manfredi said. “Once every 50 years, whether it needs it or not, I think it is probably a good idea to review [the structure].” 

The report included a motion to relocate the McGill Writing Centre (MWC) from the School of Continuing Studies to the Faculty of Arts. The motion to approve the relocation was passed. 

The Senate appointed Eric Galbraith, professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, to the Committee on Student Services, and Annie Chevrier, professor in the Ingram School of Nursing, to the Committee on Student Discipline, at the recommendation of the Senate Nominating Committee.

During associate provost (Equity & Academic Policies) Angela Campbell’s presentation of the Report on the Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism, Saku Mantere, professor in the Desautels Faculty of Management, raised concerns about mandating the learning module. 

“I’m a scholar of organizational change myself, and I’m delighted that we’re working on a change of this kind. However, I would object to the implements of how this change is being pursued,” Mantere said. “I found that […] having a mandatory module, [like “It Takes All of Us”], is a form of indoctrination rather than a form of learning.”

In response, Campbell explained that while the plan’s module will be mandatory, the consequences of non-compliance will be lesser than for the “It Takes All of Usmodule, which blocks students’ course registration. 

Moment of the meeting:

Toward the end of the meeting, Edith Zorychta, associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, provided highlights of the Report from the Board of Governors to Senate. Of note is the approval of new grant agreements, which will sponsor research on air pollution in cities and on carbon neutral design and architecture. 

Soundbite:

“The notion of hybrid teaching, the idea that an instructor can at once deliver a course both in person and virtually at the same time, is not currently feasible [….] The current infrastructure at the university does not permit that [….] We are not equipped for that, so that is something that I do not think will be entertained.” —Angela Campbell, associate provost (Equity & Academic Policies), on the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on COVID Academic Planning and Policies’ stance on hybrid teaching.

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