The 2021 Student Senate and Board of Governor Elections for the Okanagan are fast approaching, with the election period opening on March 15 to March 19 for the positions of Student Representative At-Large to the Senate, Graduate Student Representative to the Senate, and Student Representative to the Board of Governors. The election period for Student Representative of a Faculty to the Senate begins March 22 and closes March 26.
The Board of Governors (BoG) responsibilities include the “management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of the university.” These individuals on the BoG are volunteers who provide their service to the university without remuneration. On the other hand, the Senate focuses on the academic affairs of the university.
To provide a greater idea of what it is like to sit as a student on the BoG and Senate in the Okanagan and to gain a greater understanding of this student’s responsibilities, The Phoenix spoke to Jassim Naqvi. Naqvi has had the opportunity to serve on both the BoG and Senate and will be discussing these governing bodies.
“Hi everyone! My name is Jassim Naqvi. I am a student Governor and have been serving on the UBC Board of Governors (BoG) for the past two years, as well as a UBC Senator serving on the UBC Okanagan Senate for the past three years. Student terms on the Senate and BoG last for a year each, and today I’m here to briefly dive into the world of BoG and the Senate.
UBC, as a whole, has about 6 major governing bodies; the SUO of UBC on the Okanagan Campus, the AMS on the Vancouver campus, the UBC Okanagan Senate, the UBC Vancouver Senate, the Council of Senates, and the UBC Board of Governors. The AMS/SUO are Student Unions for each campus.
The two Senates are UBC-led bodies, responsible for the academic operations of the University (including topics such as admissions, examination policy, academic discipline, approving course curriculum, new departments approval, degree conferral, and student awards).
The UBC Board of Governors are responsible for non-academic matters/the financial operations at UBC. This includes topics such as tuition policy, the University budget, campus buildings, and more. Large portions of Board meetings are open for anyone to attend. A comprehensive list of individual Governor responsibilities can be found at https://bog.ubc.ca/board-members/key-personnel/individual-governors/
There are 3 UBC students elected to BoG: one student from the Okanagan campus, and two students from the Vancouver campus. 21 people are elected or appointed to the UBC Board of Governors in total, 10 elected from UBC’s student, staff and faculty, and the other 11 being government appointees.”
Naqvi also discussed some of the key events and highlights that occurred during his time serving on the Board of Governors.
“In April 2020, the UBC Board of Governors declared a Climate Emergency and committed to divestment of fossil fuel-intensive assets, aiming to reduce climate change-related financial risk in its endowment through the continued application of environmental, social and governance investment practices, as well as signing on to the UN Principles of Responsible Investing, and the reduction of carbon emissions and stranded fossil fuel assets. This additionally prompted the creation of the Board of Governors Sustainability and Climate Action Committee.
Maintaining a high communication standard between the three governing bodies at UBC Okanagan has been and is absolutely essential in being able to effectively represent UBCO. One thing I would encourage all future student Governors at the Okanagan campus is to remain actively in touch with both the SUO of UBC as well as the UBC Okanagan Student Senate Caucus. Your responsibility, however, is not just to the Okanagan campus, but to UBC as a whole, and being in close contact with the Alma Mater Society is also important.
BoG also oversaw early implementation plans of the UBC Okanagan Downtown Kelowna Presence, the new Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Innovation (ICI) building located at UBCO, heard calls-to-action from UBCSUO executives regarding academic space availability on campus, endorsed the Inclusion Action Plan (IAP), the Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP), reviewed Policy SC17 (UBC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy) and recently received input from the Black Student Caucus in February 2021 regarding UBC’s collective commitment towards addressing anti-Black racism in all forms.”
The Phoenix also has the opportunity to ask Naqvi about the recent changes implemented by the Senate on campus. One of these changes includes implementing a new one-week reading break during the month of November at UBCO. Previously, UBCO students only had one reading break that occurred in February. The Phoenix asked Naqvi about his thoughts on this reading break as well as the other changes made by the Senate.
“The new reading break (formally acknowledged as Term 1 Midterm Break) is an absolute boon for students. We acknowledged that November is a tough time for students, and the need for a full-week break in the first Winter term had been well identified and well-known by UBCO’s students, staff, and faculty. Currently, students use the Term 2 Midterm Break in many different ways, be it catching up on sleep, booking medical appointments, travelling home to see friends and family, or working extra hours and pick up casual jobs to make ends meet for the rest of the term. Almost all students use the opportunity to study.
Faculty and staff benefit from the break too, with many catching up on marking and course prep. Breaks also allow groups such as the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the Library, and individual Faculties to run programming, workshops, and consultations that might otherwise be impossible to schedule. The full, comprehensive report from the Senate Working Group can be read starting at pg. 204 via here.
Additionally, the UBC Okanagan Senate approved Policy O-131: Digital Assessment
Tools which outlined that no student shall be required to purchase access to a fee-based Digital Assessment Tool, including those sold as a Bundled Resource, for any UBC Okanagan course. Additionally, Digital Assessment Tools may not be used for practice/mock questions, quizzes, or similar activities, including cases in which the activity does not directly count towards a student’s grade. As well as this, the Winter Break has been permanently extended to the second week of January.
These changes take time, effort, and deep collaboration with the UBC population on a massive scale. They could not have been done without students, and so I highly encourage everyone reading this to consider the different ways you could grow and contribute back to UBC, whether it be BoG, Senate or the Students’ Union Okanagan (SUO) level.”
Naqvi will not be reapplying for these positions for the next term as he will be graduating soon. However, he is ready to pass on the mantle to another student. He tells students to feel free to reach out to him for any questions on the BoG and Senate, during running or during the elected term. He states, “the advice and knowledge of past and current longer-term Governors has been highly useful for me.”
The Senate and BoG are an integral part of the university and they are responsible for many of the significant changes that occur. Therefore, it is important to make an informed decision and vote in the upcoming elections beginning March 15. To vote, visit the SSC and go to Webvote to cast your decision. For more information on these governing bodies, please visit the websites below kindly provided by Naqvi.
UBC BoG Policy Repository:
The University Act of British Columbia:
Senate Policy Repository and Committee List: