The most important policies being reviewed by UBC's Board of Governors this year

It’s a big year for UBC’s Board of Governors (BoG).

The BoG has outlined a number of key policies that are either slated for review or being actively reviewed already. These include reworking how UBC accommodates students with disabilities, the school’s rules around discrimination and harassment and where and how cannabis can be consumed on campus.

According to a report presented by University Counsel Hubert Lai and Associate University Counsel Mark Crosbie, there are 12 pressing issues that are currently undergoing the redevelopment process and 11 urgent ones that require “immediate attention” from the Board.

Among them, here are the policies the UBC community should be paying special attention to this school year.

Policy 3: Discrimination and Harassment

This policy briefly came up at the Board level this summer, when concerned stakeholders flagged American conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro’s upcoming visit to campus. Invited guests are not required to abide by the same guidelines that the policy lays out for UBC community members.

According to Lai and Corsbie’s document, it’s been less than two years since Policy 3 was updated — but the fact that it’s up for review so quickly proves that its gaps are already showing. The policy will be reviewed by the BoG’s People, Community and International (PC&I) Committee and come back to Board for input in November 2018 and approval in March 2019.

Policy 15: Smoking and Smoking Product Promotion on Campus

Also under review by the PC&I Committee, UBC’s draft revisions to its smoking policy will treat cannabis in the same way as tobacco when the drug is legalized on October 17. With these suggested updates, the university is going against a nationwide trend of smoke-free campuses — but it is receiving positive feedback from student stakeholders for the revisions’ inclusion of harm-reduction practices.

Moving forward, a community-wide consultation is set to continue until November 16 and the policy won’t be finalized until the BoG’s February 2019 meeting. It will be worth watching to see how UBC’s educational campaigns, consultation with local neighbourhoods and its extra regulations on cannabis in residences will play out over the first four months of legalization.

Policy 65: Religious Holidays

First approved in May 1994, this policy has not gone through a review until now.

Since its approval, UBC’s campus community has become much more diverse, welcoming students from many different faiths and backgrounds. As a result, the university is receiving more requests from students seeking religious accommodations for holidays not covered under the school’s current calendar, according to Lai and Corsbie’s report.

A policy review to standardize practices is also particularly important, as the UBC Strategic Plan sets diversity as one of the school’s top priorities. This review will be undertaken by the PC&I committee and is expected to come back to Board for input in January 2019 and approval in May 2019.

Policy 73: Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities

UBC’s policy on accommodating students with disabilities hasn’t been updated since it was first approved in May 1999 — and the cracks are starting to show.

The department named in the original draft of the policy no longer exists, and a Ubyssey feature on it last year revealed substantial problems with who receives accommodations and who doesn’t. Currently undertaken by the Learning & Research Committee, the draft update includes instating a process for students to make complaints and launch investigations about denied accommodations and sets the standard of disability as “undue hardship.”

Policy 73 is expected to come back for Board approval in November 2018.

Policy 92: Land Use and Permitting & Policy 5: Sustainable Development

The BoG is considering cutting Policy 5, which was last revised in June 2005. The report notes that technical and administrative changes have made the policy outdated, creating an “incorrect” idea “that UBC’s approach to sustainability is behind the times.”

Instead, the discussion is potentially moving to Policy 92 via the creation of Land Use Rules with explicit language about sustainable development. Within the four items currently listed under UBC’s Land Use Rules, the topic of sustainability is largely discussed in the Resident Environmental Assessment Program, which “mandate[s] and measure[s] sustainable building practices for ... residential developments located in Neighbourhood Housing Areas” on campus.

Both policy reviews have been undertaken by the Property Committee and are to be brought back for Board input in November 2018 and approval in March 2019. UBC Campus & Community Planning will be doing most of the consultation for the development of the suggested land use rules.

Policy 101: Vending Machines on Campus

Okay, this one’s a bit silly. Still, UBC’s current policy around vending machines — last revised in September 1993 — lets the head of an administrative division independently approve machines that dispense candy bars and drinks. As UBC works on a healthy beverage initiative to phase out sugary beverages, tweaking this policy might be surprisingly important in determining whether the initiative succeeds.

This policy update is assigned to Finance Committee. It is to come back to Board for input in January 2019 and approval in May 2019.