Western University’s Senate again sent back proposed revisions to academic policy that would require professors to give students at least 15 per cent of their course grade by the course drop deadline.

At the last Senate meeting, the proposed changes to Western’s academic policy were rejected. The proposal came back following some revisions and discussion at the senate committee on academic policy and awards. 

The revision to the policy states that “At least one week prior to the deadline for withdrawal from a course without academic penalty, students will receive assessment of work accounting for at least 15 per cent of their final course grade.”

Provost Janice Deakin said a student complained that she had not been assessed prior to the course drop deadline and felt that being assessed would have helped them make their decision.

Some senators voiced concern over this proposal. Senator Jane Toswell expressed concern that this revised policy was not reviewed by the associate deans.

"I think my natural tendency would be to suggest that we should table it so that those groups can provide some feedback," Toswell said. 

She said that although for many of her courses she tries to assess students before the drop deadline, for some courses, such as her old English course, it is extremely difficult to do so. 

Another senator was worried that it would be difficult to impose this requirement on third and fourth year courses, especially ones with larger essay requirements. One senator did not like the imposition and decrease of academic freedom on professors.

Student senators spoke more favourably over the policy. Harry Orbach-Miller said it was important for students to get feedback. Emily Addison believes giving out 15 per cent of a student’s final mark is a fair standard and students will like having a smaller assessment before the drop deadline.

Deakin supports the proposal, but acknowledges that the concerns of senators need to be addressed.

There were concerns over delaying voting on policy as student senators may not be available over the summer and will not have their voices heard. The motion was sent back to the committee for revisions and the goal is to discuss changes by the Apr. 8 Senate meeting.

Another debated topic was the creation of an integrated science program. Toswell was concerned that this program does not align with Western’s modular program structure as 13.5 courses are required.

Deakin acknowledged that the modular structure is beneficial for many programs, but Senate is always open to other alternatives.

Dean of science, Charmaine Dean, said the program is very similar to a student taking an honours specialization and a minor, but is branded as one program to be more competitive with other schools. 

The motion successfully passed and the program was approved.

Peter White, Western’s executive director for government relations and strategic partnerships, addressed Senate about rapid transit and the recent issues with London transit. All the information on rapid transit has been compiled and is available for public viewing, he said. Formal consultations on the proposed routes through Western have been completed and March 24 is the deadline for individuals to submit feedback.

KYLE PORTER / GAZETTE

In response to questions submitted in advance by Addison, White also discussed the recent issue with bus detours around campus because of restrictions on University Drive bridge. He said LTC attempted to use their smaller buses on Thursday, Mar. 3, but ultimately realized it would not meet the needs of transit users.

He added that the routes were updated Friday and Western is encouraging all students to take the 6 and 13 routes to University Hospital, rather than getting off at the Richmond Gates. The 6A route will also now go to Natural Science. The campus shuttle routes have also been adjusted to integrate better with the new bus routes.

Finally, associate vice-president student experience Jana Luker addressed media reports about the four week wait time at Western for psychiatrists. She stressed that wait times were far better than anyone in the wider community had and that for the first time, other mental health supports available at Western had no wait times. Deakin also echoed Luker's statements, saying Western's mental health support system compared to other schools is much better and that this is a "good news story."

The next Senate meeting is Apr. 8.

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