SU supports faculty amalgamation

By Sarelle Azuelos

With a possible arts faculty amalgamation around the corner, the Students’ Union has taken another step to ensure that the quality of education for the students affected is maintained.

At the end of April, the University of Calgary board of governors will meet and vote on combining the arts, humanities, social science and communication and culture faculties. The Student Academic Assembly voted to support the reorganization on Monday.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that the best step forward for students to see, would be an amalgamated structure that still maintains the different departments and disciplines,” said SU president Dalmy Baez. “That being said, in our document we have some pretty specific requirements for us to move ahead with this.”

Baez sent the list of recommendations and assurances to the University Planning Committee shortly after Monday’s meeting.

“The SU has been able to play quite a large role at that level,” she said. “They’ve taken a lot of our recommendations on and we’ve been able to guide the process.”

At the meeting, elected officials added requirements to ensure the hours of advising time available doesn’t decrease and that enough student representatives are on appropriate councils for the 7,000-student combined faculty.

The document also calls for a “measurable” increase in quality of education. The assembly decided to keep the wording vague to avoid limiting themselves to using a specific survey, such as the National Survey of Student Engagement, for measurement.

The university votes while the SU transitions to next year’s elected officials. Faculty representatives have decided that due to their current in-depth understanding of amalgamation’s consequences, they would come up with a stance and next year’s representatives would follow it through.

“The decision doesn’t bind the faculty representatives, it just binds the president and the vice-president academic,” said VP academic Pamela Weatherbee. “Representatives have to vote on behalf of their constituents and not for the Students’ Union.”

Social science representative Teale Phelps Bondaroff made this apparent at the discussion, saying he was in favour of the document, but would still vote against the amalgamation because it won’t benefit social science students.

The SU currently doesn’t have a plan of action if the reorganization results in a lower quality of education.

“If we find that [by] changing the structure of the way the arts are shaped, things don’t get any better, then we know it’s not the structure, we know there’s a bigger issue,” said Weatherbee.

She added future elected officials would have to look at programming, teaching practices and hiring practices to find another solution.

“We don’t think this change in faculty structure is going to fix all of our problems,” said Baez. “We’re not suddenly going to climb to the top of Maclean’s rankings or anything like that. However, we are confident enough that this reorganization will have enough positive impacts that we’re supporting it.”

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