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On March 8, the sleepy confines of Leacock 232 took on a new lustre as the room filled with melodious voices and immaculate apparel. Yes, the Senators were back, and ready to apply their wisdom to issues of security and a sustainable campus.
Guest-chaired by Dean Madramootoo, Senate opened with a tribute to International Women's Day and a welcome to Ann Dowsett-Johnston, McGill's newest Vice-Principal. This was followed by an update on the ongoing complementarity issue wherein McGill's teaching hospitals are seeking an agreement with the province and the Université de Montréal as to construction and resource allocation. Dean Fuks explained that the process has improved and added that the first stage of the process will be completed by May, with a report to the provincial health minister shortly after.
Senator Upham then asked about how the administration is responding to thefts on campus, especially those of laptops. VP Yalovsky replied that the university had noted an uptick in theft since last fall, especially in the Bronfman, McLennan and Shatner buildings. The university has responded since November with additional patrols and a poster and bulletin awareness campaign. With regard to break-ins targeting grad student offices, Yalovsky noted that cameras have recorded some of the culprits but it is not always possible to identify then.
Provost Masi then sought approval for the new Centre for Research on Religion to which Senator Robaire noted that it was unusual to create an entity whose mandate seemed to be congruous with that of a faculty. Masi replied that the questions of religion should not be confined just to Religious Studies, and that the centre was an interdisciplinary endeavour that would draw together perspectives from a host of different faculties. Senate then unanimously approved the Centre's creation.
Their duties done, the Senators then turned full attention to Kathleen Ng, McGill's Environmental Officer, who offered up the quaintly titled "Sustainability @ McGill ... not just another feel-good crunchy granolahead PR concept."
Ng soon charmed the stern Senators with a lively presentation that interwove economics and ecology. She explained that cursory audits around campus have revealed that McGill has the opportunity to save millions of dollars by making more conscientious use of its resources. From conserving energy to eliminating paper pay stubs, opportunities abound for the campus to improve its environmental track record. As an added incentive, Ng pointed out, educational institutions are among those that will be obliged by law to conform to sustainability practices in the near future.
The Senators applauded the presentation warmly, and heartily joined a discussion which once elicited little interest among hallowed Senates. Senator Bhatt urged the administration to provide incentives for staff transit use, and Senator Chase called for better recycling practices. VP Yalovksy concluded the discussion by exhorting more professors and administrators to attend the 5th annual Rethink Forum taking place on March 17 in New Residence.
On this noble note, the resplendent body then took their leave to meet again March 29.