Students in the UBC Vancouver Senate will focus their advocacy on six key areas in the upcoming triennium: equity and accessibility, student learning, graduate student support, strategic initiatives, policy work and systemic improvements to the Senate.
The priorities are outlined in the Student Senate Caucus’s new goal-setting report, Senate 2023.
The caucus, co-chaired by Senator-at-Large Eshana Bhangu and Commerce Senator Dante Agosti-Moro, is a group of student senators who work together to develop student priorities in the Senate, inform each other of the developments in different committees and provide each another with institutional knowledge.
Through this living document, the caucus aims to frame the first of many discussions within the Senate as to how they can improve the academic governance of UBC over the next triennium.
“[This document] is an attempt to capture and articulate what we believe we can improve on as an institution and what are potential steps we can take in order to create that positive impact and progress within our community as a leading university across the country and globe,” the report’s introduction reads.
Some key recommendations and action items from the report include increasing inclusivity and diversity through an institutional racism audit, facilitating the best student learning by implementing mid-course feedback, reviewing the course withdrawal policy and introducing term limits for senators.
Bhangu said the caucus consulted a wide variety of student groups, including the Graduate Student Society, the Indigenous Committee and the Black Student Union.
“We reached out to these student groups to see what their priorities are, but of course before that there was a lot of brainstorming on our end,” Bhangu said of the consultation.
Agosti-Moro said that the priorities outlined in the report were chosen collectively by the caucus.
“What we did is we asked everyone in the caucus to write down something they believed the Senate should work on,” he explained. “It could be something they campaigned on, something they felt the Student Senate should address, something they hear student feedback about, anything worth looking at.”
Bhangu and Forestry Senator Chalaya Moonias then narrowed down what was feasible for the Senate to tackle as a whole, and came up with the chief categories seen in the document.
Both Agosti-Moro and Bhangu found it difficult to single out particular goals they deemed to be the most important.
“All of them are very important in different ways,” Bhangu said. “To be honest, I think if we can even achieve half of these, we’d be making a really positive change in our university.”
Agosti-Moro stated that the systemic goals were capable of substantial positive change within the Senate itself. One recommendation he mentioned was setting term limits for senators. Senators have one-year terms but can run for Senate every year, sometimes serving for decades.
“I think the systemic goals are something that would really change a lot of how the Senate operates for the better,” he said. “The term limits for senators are something that student senators have been pushing for for years because it’s so important to have fresh ideas and new beliefs brought onto the Senate.”