The McGill Senate, the governing body responsible for academic policies at the university, met for the first time of the new year on Jan. 16. Senators deliberated two major policies: They passed revisions to the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures and presented updates about upcoming changes to the Policy against Sexual Violence.
Approval of proposed revisions to the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures
After showing the Senate his initial revisions to the Code in November, Dean of Students Christopher Buddle presented his final draft for approval, which passed. Buddle highlighted the important revisions he had made, noting that the updated Code reflected a significant clarification of the appeal process.
“If I’m to be totally honest with you, we just didn’t pay enough attention to that in the [working] group,” Buddle said. “So, we looked at it carefully between November and today.”
Other notable revisions included clarifying and broadening the terms ‘disciplinary procedures’ and ‘assessment.’ In closing, Buddle recognized the value of collaboration in the revision process.
“We all need a Glenn [Zabowski, associate dean of students] in our lives, someone who helps us along with big projects,” Buddle said. “And to the students who have been very collaborative as well, thank you.”
Reports on the Policy against Sexual Violence
Shaheen Shariff, chair of the Ad Hoc Panel to Conduct a Campus Study on Sexual Violence, and Lucyna Lach, chair of the Committee for the Implementation of the Policy against Sexual Violence, described their groups’ work and their recommendations. Their findings will inform the upcoming revisions to the Policy against Sexual Violence.
Shariff determined three key areas of concern: Clarifying the current policies and procedures, rebuilding trust, and reducing ‘rape culture’ through education and regular open communication with the community. In her presentation, Shariff noted that 25 per cent of students and 50 per cent of faculty staff concurred that sexual violence is a problem at McGill.
Meanwhile, Lach’s committee recommended revising the Academic Integrity tutorial to teach new students about sexual violence. Instead of making the tutorial required for graduation, they recommended that it be mandatory in order to register for courses. Further, they proposed modules on sexual violence for teaching and administrative staff.
Several senators questioned the legitimacy of the study given its small sample size. In response, Arts Senator Madeline Wilson asked the Senate to consider the sensitivity of the issue as a cause of the low response rate. Shariff agreed and urged the committee to use the findings as a reference for how the university could improve its policies.
“We have so much talent across McGill and knowledge on addressing and teaching in different ways and addressing some of these issues,” Shariff said. “We need to not be focused only on consent and bystander workshops. We need to do it at the grassroots level where we engage our students in their learning and thinking about [the issues].”
Upcoming library changes announced
Colleen Cook, Trenholme dean of libraries, gave an update on the McGill libraries, including the recently announced Schulich closure.
“When you come back to school in the Fall, that library will be closed and it will be very tight and close and chummy in the McLennan-Redpath complex,” Cook said.
Cook also reported on the status of the Osler library after a July fire; the affected books have been freeze-dried, the Osler rare collection has been moved to the McLennan Rare Books collection, and plans to revitalize the physical space are in preparation. Cook further announced that the Fiat Lux project had secured a donation of $35 million. McGill intends to reveal the identity of the donor this coming Fall.
The next Senate meeting will take place on Feb. 20. The agenda will include a presentation on the the revised Policy against Sexual Violence.