Senate Summed Up: Senators approve extension of drop deadline to February 6

At its first meeting of 2022, UBC Vancouver’s Senate approved a motion extending the drop deadline to February 6 and discussed the extension of remote instruction.

Here’s what you might have missed.

Senators approve extension of withdrawal period without a W

Student senator Eshana Bhangu introduced a motion to extend the deadline for students to withdraw from a course without receiving a W on their transcript to February 6 at 11:59 p.m. She said the measure would mitigate uncertainty for students with no firm return to in-person classes scheduled.

“This motion is intended to extend our compassionate and flexible approach that we’ve taken throughout this pandemic,” Bhangu said. Students will only be able to drop courses until February 6. They will not be able to add any courses past the original add drop deadline of January 21.

Bhangu also said the case-by-case approach to a W exemption — which is the current policy for students seeking to withdraw from a course past the withdrawal deadline — “disadvantages students who are not institutionally literate or ‘in the know’ of taking up that opportunity.”

Student senators Dante Agosti-Moro, Laia Shpeller, Georgia Yee, Anisha Sandhu, Keanna Yu and Jackson Schumacher spoke in favour of the motion.

Dean of Arts Gage Averill said that he supported the motion, but expressed concern that the measure could overwhelm advising offices.

In response, student senator Julia Burnham said she hoped the “repeated nature” of concerns around advising workload would be addressed outside the Senate, and not hold this motion back.

Dr. Jan Hare, dean pro tem for the faculty of education, expressed concern over the extension, saying the case-by-case approach allows the faculty of education to better understand the needs of Indigenous students.

Dr. Santokh Singh said he believed that students would not drop a course “just for the sake of it,” and supported the motion “because of the times that we are living, and also out of compassion.”

The motion passed with 37 in favour and 24 opposed.

Discussion regarding online instruction

President Santa Ono gave remarks regarding the decision to move most UBC programs online until February 7. He said the decision was made in consultation with faculty deans and the AMS, along with advice from the provincial health officer and other universities worldwide.

“It is my hope that UBC will return to in-person instruction as soon as possible, as soon as we have confidence that it’s in the best interest of not only our community [but also the wider community] … [It’s also] very important to me that the decision we make reflects fundamentally the shared governance at the university.”

Agosti-Moro asked what enhanced safety measures would be in place when UBC returned to in-person activities.

Ono said that while testing was “out of [the university’s] hands” due to a broader supply shortage, UBC was in discussions to acquire a large number of N-95 masks.

Dr. Sathish Gopalakrishnan brought up concerns over the capacity of the university to cover courses if faculty members fall ill.

Dean of Science Meigan Aronson said her faculty is developing contingency plans for absences including departmental call lists for teaching replacements, as well as plans to communicate changes with students.

Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning Simon Bates added that a new iteration of block funding has been sought to support faculties.

“It can fund things like extra TAs, extra TA hours to support students … to assist with reshaping assessment activities … and generally other elements to help a course function in the best possible way online,” he said.