Lina Castro is a third-year behavioural neuroscience student from Colombia. She moved to Vancouver at the age of nine and has since lived in Port Coquitlam and Mission. Currently, Castro serves as the Mental Health and Well-being Commissioner, roles including seeking out mental health initiatives across campus and working to start her own initiatives. Through this position, Castro has collaborated with several Senate committees over the years.
Describe your platform and what sets it apart from your opposition in a few sentences.
My [platform] basically consists of five points. The first is making a common syllabi policy, which would regulate policies across all faculties. The second point is improving the academic calendar. I will be initiating changes in a fall reading break and later withdrawal deadlines. The third point is that I want to revamp the mental health ad-hoc committee on Senate. I want to look at the framework and see that the big issue is accountability or whether it’s that the framework wasn’t drafted in the best way to suit Senate, making sure it suits the purpose that it serves. The fourth point is enhanced learning records. This concept started with the idea of co-curricular transcripts and was then adapted to learning enhanced records. The next step is to consult different stakeholders across campus, figure out what this is going to look like and how this is going to happen. My last piece is the task force that was struck after the 2015 Sauder rape chants [and] came up with a bunch of recommendations to the president of the UBC. UBC responded with a list of recommendations that they had decided to take on and these recommendations affected different groups across campus including Senate. Senate has not completed these recommendations that had been brought forward. I plan to look at which ones were not completed, review the process and assign them to the appropriate Senate committees.
How have you been involved with the AMS before, and how will this help you?
I’ve been working under the VP Academic’s office as the mental health commissioner over the last two years, so I’ve gotten to work with two different VP Academics. Through this position, I’ve done a lot in terms of research and advocacy. The bulk of my work collaborated with a Senate committee, usually a renovation to a policy or a new innovative policy.
What are the challenges facing this position in the upcoming year?
Being the last year in the triennium means that there’s a lot of projects people are expecting to get finalized. I think it’ll be a challenge in deciding which projects do need to be completed and which ones maybe need to be scrapped because, as the last year, we’re going to need to focus our efforts and finish whatever we decide to finish.
Who is the most important body or person you need to collaborate with in this position, and how will you foster a relationship with them?
I would say the Dean of Science Paul Harrison because he has chaired the mental health ad hoc committee before and he currently chairs the academic policy Senate committee and these are both committees that I plan to be very involved with. My platform is based a lot around this academic calendar review.
What three committees would you like to sit on as a senator, and why?
I will be sitting on the mental health committee, the flexible learning committee and the academic policy committee.
Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Correction: This article originally spelled Castro's home country, Colombia, as "Columbia." The Ubyssey regrets this error