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The Senate meeting of March 29 opened on a sombre note as Senator Reed delivered a eulogy for popular former student Fred Segal who passed away earlier this month; formal condolences will be sent along to the family.
Principal Munroe-Blum then apprised the Senate of recent developments on campus which included a CFI funding announcement from the new federal Industry Minister, Maxime Bernier. The principal noted that the minister's choice of McGill as a venue for his first public appearance came as an encouraging sign, but that the extent of the new Conservative government's support for higher education remains unclear. She added that the lack of new education funding in the recent provincial budget came as a disappointment to Quebec's universities.
The Principal also offered a formal welcome to new Dean of Arts, Chris Manfredi, adding that decanal selections across campus were now all but complete as the search for a Dean of Medicine enters its final stages. Her remarks also drew attention to a spate of good news at McGill, including Professor Guthrie's recent Killam prize and the school's strong showing at the Turin Olympics.
Question period brought a query from Senator Rhéaume, who inquired whether the school calendar could be adjusted to allow for more holiday time before and during the fall semester. Provost Masi replied that present date selection is informed by a series of guidelines created by Senate which can be found on the website under student services.
The next question touched on the fate of office space for the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students' Society (SACOMSS) whose night office is currently located in the Brown building. Several Senators argued that the administration has a moral and customary obligation to ensure SACOMMS has a nighttime location that provides security to both staff and sexual assault victims. Masi replied that SACOMMS was notified last year that the space was a temporary arrangement and added that, since negotiations about the issue are on-going between SSMU and the administration, it is premature to speculate on final outcomes. The sensitive discussion was carried out with a high level of civility as several dozen sign-carrying SACOMMS supporters lined the back of the room.
After a confidential report from the honorary degrees committee, Senate attended to the usual housekeeping items and also endorsed a proposal that will eliminate the Dean's honours list designation for doctoral students.