Senate Highlights

Karl Jarosiewicz

The May 1 meeting of Senate was held in the Moot Court in the Faculty of Law and Principal Bernard Shapiro began with some housecleaning. Under the heading "Business arising from the Minutes," the Principal responded to a question previously raised about student representation on the Budget Planning Group (BPG).

Although BPG's membership is reviewed periodically, Shapiro stated that it is an ad hoc advisory committee that reports and makes recommendations directly to him. He added that it already has two Senate representatives among the group and that no special place has ever been reserved for students. He added that he doesn't plan changes to the membership at this time.

Motherhood motion

PGSS representative Alain Roy put a motion before Senate that read, "Senate opposes cuts in the government funds to the universities." He based this resolution on four points: a very restricted budget makes daily operations difficult for the University "and long-term decisions a strenuous exercise"; the University has a large debt to refund; additional funding cuts will make matters worse; and "despite large increases in tuition fees, Quebec universities will function with $100 million less this year."

Few members of Senate were likely to oppose the principle or the wording of this proposal, and it passed without comment.

The business of medicine

The Academic Policy and Planning Committee recommended that Senate approve a "new joint MD/MBA degree." Administered by the faculties of Management and Medicine, the program would integrate the requirements of both the MBA and the MD degrees into one "intensive 5-year program." Students would begin their MD/MBA studies in the Faculty of Management during the first year. In the second year they would begin their regular medical program in the Faculty of Medicine.

Student representative Tiffany Townsend, a medical student herself, said that she liked the idea, but wondered why only foreign students were being targeted for this program.

"What is the underlying vision behind this?" asked Professor John Ripley. "Is it a fundraising device? What's the projected registration? What's the cost benefit to the University?"

Vice-Principal (Academic) Bill Chan stated that it was a regular program and nothing more.

Dean of Management Wallace Crowston said that all that's happening is "we're taking two existing programs and rescheduling so that they fit together." He said that health care is among the largest industries in Canada and that "the health industry needs this combination for administrators of hospitals, insurance companies, etc. Large amounts of money are being spent and not necessarily well."

Demanding double

"There's a definite need in health care management for the expertise of both disciplines," said Dr. Sarah Prichard, who had been granted speaking rights for this discussion. She emphasized, however, that the program was open to everyone who wished to apply. The impression that only foreign students would be allowed to apply was created by a provincial regulation restricting out-of-province Canadian students that has since been dropped.

"Originally, the program had been devised to get out-of-province Canadians into the medical program by deferring the first year until they became Quebec residents." This "devious" use of a loophole is no longer necessary.

Professor Pat Farrell stated that "this is not a new degree at all." It is the awarding of two separate degrees for a joint program. He said that the wording should be changed from new degree to new program and he asked that the minutes reflect this.

Townsend noted that medical studies are already very demanding and asked if anyone had consulted with students about the course load.

Replies from both Crowston and Prichard revealed that the admissions committees of each faculty included students who were aware of the course load implications as well as the lack of summer breaks for at least two years. Prichard added that "judging from the number of applicants, it isn't deterring anyone."

The program was approved by Senate.

Appealing decisions

The Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures and the Revised Code of Student Grievance Procedures have been brought into harmony with revisions to the Appeal Process, thanks to the work of Dean of Students Rosalie Jukier and the other members of the appeal process workgroup.

Jukier noted that an imbalance had arisen due to changes in the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures last year. During their review her workgroup brought the procedures into unison and made "a few housekeeping changes" along the way.

Among the primary changes were the inclusion, for the first time, of a definition of the role of the legal assessor, who advises all parties from a neutral position as to the fair conduct of proceedings. However, the legal assessor is not allowed to participate in the discussion.

Jukier pointed to the principle of natural justice as a key component of the procedures. She said that fundamental care must be taken to ensure fairness to individuals.

"As a principle of law, natural justice has been recognized for over 200 years."

Professor Nicholas De Takacsy noted that natural justice is one of the most difficult principles to define. He asked, at least for the record, how it would be described by the dean.

"I came prepared for just that question," said Jukier. She quoted from Mr. Justice Cory, saying, "Natural justice, as a concept, is an elastic one that can and should defy definition." She added that our own Professor Yves-Marie Morissette calls it a "telegraphic label."

She added, however, that natural justice implies a right to be heard and a right to be judged by an impartial jury.

The right to rescind

In the case of graduates who are later discovered to have cheated or plagiarized, a provision to rescind their degrees is included in the revisions.

A recommendation to bring the case to Senate and ask for a decision is included. The reasoning is that what Senate gives, it should be able to take away.

Student representative Eric Beaudry pointed out that that would turn Senate into an appeals committee.

Jukier stated that while it was a good point, she would prepare her statement to Senate in a closed session and outline all the facts.

Farrell noted that the University has, "in fact, no jurisdiction over graduates. As they are no longer members of the University, by what possible means do we compel them to come here for disciplinary procedures?"

"Good point regarding jurisdiction," said Jukier. However, the green book (Code of Student Conduct) states that the student need only have been at McGill. If one of these individuals applies again for another course or degree program, the disciplinary procedures can begin or resume. Finally, she noted that over half of the graduates and former students called to attend disciplinary reviews do appear.

"What happens if they refuse? Provisions allow us to hold the process in absentia."

In response to a comment about the University looking stupid if after 10 years it tries to withdraw a degree, Jukier stated, "Face saving is not as important as our reputation."

The revisions were approved by Senate.