Debate: Senatorial Quarrel

Posted by: | January 19, 2010 | 2 Comments

The problem with having an election for five spots is you end up with a race of twelve candidates (last year aside). Fortunately for us, only seven candidates showed up today to answer some questions from the moderator, Forestry Senator and All Around Good Guy Mr. Angus Cheung, and from the audience.

More on their answers behind le jump.

In attendance were:
– AJ Hajir Hajian
– Nader Beyzaei
– Gary Tse
– Ryan Bredin
– Spencer Rasmussen
– Johannes Rebane
– Joël Mertens
and notably joining in via UBC Spectator livechat due to illness was:
– Alyssa Koehn
who appears to be plagued with the sickness that robs you of your voice which I had during first week. Big kudos to her for dialing in, and staying engaged.

Overall, the debate was not exciting. The opening questions were vague enough to be answered by empty words, and no one really stood out from the crowd. The general consensus seemed to be:

Exam Hardship: Current definition is still rough for students, but it’s the best-case scenario. (Insiders is currently fact-checking that the system is at max constraint right now–we have reasonable suspicion that it is actually not)
Academic Land Use: All candidates basically said “defer to the Board”. More on this later.
Admissions and J-50: All candidates on the same page, stating that J-50 is the right direction.
Familiarity: Only one candidate read tomorrow’s Senate agenda, and he’s an incumbent so doesn’t count.
World Rankings: All candidates state they’re important for recruitment, but are skeptical of methodology.

In terms of the way the debate went, if a question was first asked to a newbie to the game, there would be empty rhetoric until it reached one of the hacks, and if it started with a hack, everyone would repeat their position. One notable except to this newbie rule was Ryan Bredin, who impressed me with his knowledge of J-50. Spencer Ramussen also impressed with his general understanding of current issues.

A note on the Senate’s role in governance. There’s a feeling within the Senate that it’s role with respect to the governance debate is small, and subordinate to the Board of Governors, who reserve ultimate say. To frame it that way is to continue the problem of inactivity that has been plaguing the Senate the past couple of years. In particular, the Senate has been dormant, and complacent to the University Administration with respect to land use. This should not be the case, as the University Act invests the two following roles of the Senate:

University Act 27(2)(d), under powers of the Board:
in consultation with the senate, to maintain and keep in proper order and condition the real property of the university, to erect and maintain the buildings and structures on it that in the opinion of the board are necessary and advisable, and to make rules respecting the management, government and control of the real property, buildings and structures;

University Act 37(1)(o), under powers of the Senate:
to make recommendations to the board considered advisable for promoting the interests of the university or for carrying out the objects and provisions of this Act;

These to me, along with the existence of the Senate Academic Building Needs committee, warrants a large degree of Senate input into the process. Particularly if the President’s Office is approaching this as an issue of academic freedom, and believes the Senate fulfills a role independent of the Board of Governors. It would be truly a missed opportunity if the Senate does not demand its legal right to consultation, and develop its own independent stance on how the way things move forward, else this decision will be made behind closed doors without the input of the true representatives of the academic community.

Note aside, we’re still learning about the candidates and their priorities. Stay tuned for our Senator candidate questionnaires coming out on Thursday.


Check out the full photo album of today’s debate.

The RBT’s Bingo Cards.

Alex, excited about seeing former AMS Hack, evil genius and current UBC Academic Governance Officer Chris Eaton at the debate! (UBC Insiders alumnus Gerald Deo is on the right.)

Elections Administrator Isabel Ferreras wondering who will be next to land in the penalty box.

Aaron Palm (hero among men and VPX candidate), Ekaterina Dovjenko (VP Admin candidate) and Mitch Wright (liveblogging for the Spectator) are all front-row keeners.


2 Comments so far

  1. Alex Lougheed on January 21, 2010 2:09 am

    Look Ma! A Chris Eaton!

  2. David Foster on January 21, 2010 10:45 am

    We have 16 student senators at UVic. Often only six or seven can make the meetings, due to work and class obligations. Only having five is rough.

    We don’t have a Senate Committee on Building Needs here, but we did pass a policy on the naming of buildings and property. Most of the Senate stuff at UVic is pretty routine. I would like to see student senators, including myself, becoming more active. Unfortunately, holding only a quarter of the Senate seats means we can be easily outvoted, and recent policy changes coming to the Senate have given me the impression that student are less important than faculty to the administration.

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