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October 16 Senate Briefs
SSMU rep Fred Sagel brought up MIT and Berkeley, among others, as universities that provide undergraduate students with ample opportunity to collaborate in research projects with faculty, post-docs, or doctoral students for either credit or recompense. He wanted to know if the administration was planning to address the comparable lack of such opportunities at McGill.
Provost Luc Vinet said "opportunities are not lacking at McGill," there are work-study programs and other "programs in which research opportunity is not only possible, but mandatory."
Sounds good, but Senator Rasmussen mused aloud on what proportion of students have access to those opportunities. Not many, he thought.
The student groups put forward a motion that the Principal allow students to attend the anti-FTAA rally October 31 without penalty. Once it was sorted out that the power lies with individual faculties to grant that wish, Dean of Law Peter Leuprecht stood up to eloquently point out that "this is not a frivolous motion." There is even a precedent -- the GATTS, a WTO agreement in 1995, which lumped in education along with transport and trade services. Six years after that, educators protested that "higher education is a public service, not a commodity." Instead of shedding crocodile tears six years too late, Leuprecht proposed, we "should enable those responsible for education to make their voices heard before the decision."
Senator Mendelson pointed out that in the Faculty of Science alone, that afternoon has 17 conferences, 29 lectures, 33 lab sessions and two mid-terms scheduled. He does nonetheless think that "students with the opportunity to participate in the rally be encouraged to do so." Dean of Music Don Maclean added that he's already released the orchestra to play at convocation, but he says he's "happy to send notice to my own staff and students." Dean of Students Bruce Shore encouraged students to talk to their instructors now -- "accommodation is easier before, not after the event."
The renewed motion passed -- to ask the Principal to ask that the Deans accommodate the students. SSMU rep Nick Knowland urged the senators to not just pat themselves on the back -- "don't just vote for it and let it disappear. Do something."