By Ashar Memon, March 13 2019 —
The Students’ Union says that it is still able to address student concerns on the University of Calgary’s foremost academic body, despite the high number of vacant faculty representative positions this semester.
Six of the 11 seats allotted to students on the General Faculties Council (GFC) were declared vacant after a slew of term excusals by faculty representatives at a Jan. 8 meeting of the Students’ Legislative Council.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had so many students require term excusals from GFC,” said SU vice-president academic Jessica Revington. “However, we’re still able to represent students at GFC without issue. There is representation from undergraduate students on GFC, as president Grewal and I represent all undergraduate students on GFC.”
Though GFC has 113 members in total, only 13 seats are allocated to undergraduate students. With the six vacant faculty representative positions, undergraduate students represent only 6.5 per cent of the voting power on the council.
There are currently no representatives from the faculties of law, nursing, social work, veterinary medicine, business or education on GFC. The SU says that all faculty representatives had course conflicts with mandatory program requirements. Revington added that vacancies from professional faculties are not atypical due to practicum requirements that frequently conflict with GFC meetings.
Areas under the responsibility of GFC include academic policy and instruction as well as approving the university’s strategic goals.
Many of the issues that come to GFC affect students directly. For example, in February 2018 GFC discussed a policy that prohibited academic staff from asking students for medical notes when deferring exams or assignments.
GFC also frequently approves revisions to the U of C’s academic schedule. It approved the introduction of the fall reading week, as well as a period of time between the end of classes and the beginning of final exams in the spring and summer semesters.
The U of C’s Eyes High Strategy, and the academic and research plans that guide it, were also approved by GFC.
Revington said the SU will emphasize the necessity of GFC to newly elected faculty representatives in May.
“We want to ensure that all of the newly elected faculty representatives understand that sitting on GFC is a mandatory component of their roles as a faculty representative,” she said.