On Friday, the Senate met and discussed, among other things, the recent assault on PhD student Mohammad Sharifi and the decision to move Homecoming to late October.
Sharifi's attack and campus diversity
University president Amit Chakma began his report by acknowledging Sharifi's assault and condemning it quite strongly. He began to talk about the wider implications of the attack as it's being investigated as a possible hate crime.
"Such despicable behaviour, motivated by racism and hate, has absolutely no place on our campus or in our society," Chakma said.
He noted that, as a person of colour himself, he has been rather lucky to have experienced little to no racism in his life. He detailed an experience of street harassment in Toronto after he came to Canada as a graduate student. He noted that society has progressed since then and it's important to keep that in mind despite the challenges that still exist.
English professor Mark McDayter asked about diversity and acceptance education for Western students. Anthropology professor Kim Clark followed up with a question about what role indigenous culture would play in any education. Chakma noted that it was easy to ignore the role of indigenous people in Canadian history but stressed that it was important.
University Students' Council president Eddy Avila said that education about race would be explored more forcefully during O-Week 2016 as part of the One Love program.
The Homecoming move
Obviously this was going to be addressed in some shape or form as it dominated news about Western the past week. The conversation got started because chair of the Western student senators Harry Orbach-Miller submitted a question ahead of time.
Provost and vice-president academic Janice Deakin noted that stakeholders such as University Hospital's emergency department and London Police Services noted that parties on Broughdale Street were becoming increasingly unsafe.
Orbach-Miller went on to explain that he didn't oppose the decision and understood it was rooted in safety but wanted an explanation of how the decision was made.
Well, Deakin was quite clear that administration acted quickly based on the information available. Given the information about continued safety concerns, Western couldn't be bothered to conduct pesky things like votes to gauge support.
"There wasn't going to be a vote given the information from London police and our own police," Deakin said.
Also interesting was the revelation that USC leaders were consulted by associate vice-president student experience Jana Luker about the changes. They reportedly did not care what day Homecoming happened and would support whatever decision Western made. But they were also not on the table when the final decision was made.
Ouch. Deakin statement somewhat contradicted Avila's response from earlier this week which downplayed any USC support for the decision to move Homecoming.
Other interesting happenings
The details of who received tenure or promotion amongst the faculty this past year were discussed. Of 16 assistant professors who were up for tenure or promotion, two of them were unsuccessful — both were women who identified as visible minorities.
This statistic obviously provoked a question from the floor. But the response from administration was that all is well. There appears to be no discrepancy between the rates in which men and women are granted tenure. That said, the numbers for visible minorities are not well documented.
The Senate ad hoc committee on renewal finally presented its final report. The committee was tasked with bringing about recommendations for transparent decision making and better governance at the University after the Chakma pay scandal.
The report will be reviewed by a Senate committee and an implementation plan will be submitted to the Senate in fall 2016.
Also, Western used to have a certificate in "digital Spanish" available but it got scrapped by the Senate today as part of university planning.
That's it with a quick round up of the proceedings on Friday. Check back next week for more detailed stories on the items presented to Senate.