Following each meeting of the Dalhousie University Senate, Dal News highlights some of the presentations and decisions made.
Senate is the university’s senior academic governing body, with membership consisting of elected representatives from Dal’s Faculties and the University Libraries, elected student representatives, a representative from the University of King’s College and Dal’s senior academic administrators. Senate is responsible for approving new programs; granting degrees/diplomas; managing the reviews of Faculties, centres and institutes; and setting academic regulations and the academic calendar.
Senate meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, from September through June. Learn more about Senate and its business at the Senate website.
Draft Sexual Violence Policy
Senate was presented with Dalhousie’s new Draft Sexual Violence Policy, a part of the university’s larger strategy to enhance prevention and support efforts.
The policy aims to: 1) prevent sexual violence by “indicating the seriousness with which the University views and responds to this issue”; 2) “to be educational, in that its existence will increase awareness of the impacts of sexual violence and of options, resources and services available to those who have experienced sexual violence and members of University community generally;” and 3) “to provide swift, coordinated, consistent and fair response to disclosures and reports of sexual violence.”
Arig al-Shaibah, Dal’s vice-provost, student affairs, brought the item forward for discussion at the meeting. The university is seeking feedback on the draft policy from the Dal community, including Senators. An email circulated the previous week to all students, faculty and staff provided a link to the full policy and invited recipients to attend one of several campus feedback sessions and/or to complete an online feedback survey.
A motion to replace gender-specific language with gender-neutral language in several Dalhousie policies and regulations was adopted. The Senate Learning and Teaching Committee recommended the revision on Nov. 1 in recognition of Dalhousie’s continued efforts around inclusion.
The following policies and regulations will be updated as part of the revision: Student Accommodation Policy; Code of Student Conduct; Hazing Policy; Suspension or Dismissal from a Program on the Grounds of Professional Unsuitability; Acceptable Use Policy (Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources); Academic Forgiveness Policy; Communication with Students; Release of Information about Students; Intellectual Honesty; Academic Dishonesty; Senate Discipline Committee; Protection of Property; and Workload.
Reports from the President and the Chair of Senate
Kevin Hewitt, Senate chair, provided a brief statement at the beginning of his report regarding Dal’s Code of Student Conduct, which has been the subject of public attention in recent months. The statement was originally posted October 30 and can be read online.
Kevin Hewitt invited Anne Fenety, assistant professor and director in the School of Physiotherapy, and Tim Maloney, director of Varsity Athletics, to announce the opening of the new Physiotherapy clinic at Dal. The clinic, located in Dalplex, opens to students, staff, faculty and the broader community on Dec.4.
Dal President Richard Florizone provided brief comments about free speech and respectful debate in light of recent events at Dal and other Canadian universities.
Steps to make diversity and inclusion a reality
Lisa Goldberg, associate professor of Nursing at Dal, spoke to Senate about creating classrooms of belonging through what she called “self-reflexive practice.” She said issues related to diversity and inclusion in the classroom are some of the most challenging experiences educators face, but they are also some of the most inspiring.
She said educators need strategies that deeply question existing assumptions, norms and biases, including the “privilege and power we garner as educators” and the way that can be leveraged to “reimagine a classroom.” She recommends educators be as transparent and open as possible in sharing details about their own identities in order to encourage students to be comfortable doing so as well. Casting a critical eye on what voices are dominant and what ones are left out, both in the classroom and on the syllabus, is also important to creating a sense of share belonging.
“As soon as we become transparent and open up, the classroom space really changes,” she said.
Senate approved other routine matters as part of its Consent Agenda, including the following: nomination of the Faculty of Architecture & Planning representatives on the Senate Academic Programs and Research Committee and the University Tenure and Promotions Appeal Panel; the adoption of a formalized Prior Learning Assessment Process for admission to the Master of Library and Information Studies program beginning Sept. 2019; and a minor change to the terms of reference for the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee to include an Alumni Association-appointed representative.
Further information on these is available from the University Secretariat.
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