Friday’s Senate meeting sparked discussion over Western’s private donations policies and changes to the science internship program's students' financial obligations.
Towards the end of the meeting, a Senate member brought up the University of Calgary’s recent sponsorship controversy. The Senate member highlighted a recent CBC article that discussed the impact of corporate donations on academic freedom. She explained the investigation happening at the University of Calgary where the president, Elizabeth Cannon, had a controversial relationship with Enbridge, a financial corporation.
The Senate member’s questions prompted a lengthy discussion on Western’s policies, review system, assessment for partnerships and accepting donations.
Kelly Cole, Western's vice-president external, explained some of Western’s numerous policies on accepting donations including the gift acceptance policy and the funding of academic chairs, professorships and academic fellowships. On occasion, donors have been asked to wait to give donations to prevent questionable actions.
“Recently we had a gift refusal. It was at the $10,000 level,” Cole said. “We thought there were too many strings attached, so we did decline to accept that.”
Another topic discussed was students in the science internship program maintaining their student status by indicating the internship as part of a themed program. During the eight to 16 months of the internship, students will not have to begin making OSAP payments. One Senate member asked if similar steps will be added to internships in other programs and faculties. John Doerksen, Western's vice-provost academic programs, said they will discuss this further at associate deans' meetings.
Other changes approved by Senate include dean's honour list criteria changes. Previously, students in engineering were required to fulfill the specific criteria to make it on the dean’s honour list for distinction. However, now if students do not have a full course load due to external factors, they will be considered on an individual basis to determine distinction.