By: Drew MacEachern and Via Reyes
One of the more competitive races this election is the one for Senate Rep. Four candidates are fighting for two positions and all four of them seem to be running high profile campaigns. The Senate race in particular as it is the body that governs our Academic Policy and comprises most of the University administrators, Deans, professors, etc. It is important to have dedicated and competent representatives. The four candidates are Owen Shaw, Brenna Doucette, Zak Jarvis, and Haley O’Connor. Once again, watch for student engagement!
What does the Senate do?
Owen Shaw: Senate has many duties on campus and it is not very well known to our students. As it says in the University Act, the main duty of Senate is to deal with the Academic Policy of the university. That’s among one of its many duties, along with dealing with scholarships, bursaries, and awards and with academic appeals of students.
Zak Jarvis: The Senate, in my opinion, represents the students. Not just every student, but also the Council. The Senate is a group [comprised] of all different parts of the university. We have a couple of student representatives, we have your faculty and we also have different professors across the university. They work together and they talk about different things going on in the university, how to help the university grow stronger together, and what problems we can help face and change.
Brenna Doucette: The Senate is the main governing body of UPEI, so the Senate has authority over a lot of different things. These are things like academic policy, scholarships and bursaries, things like that. So pretty much nothing happens on campus without growing through Senate.
Haley O’Connor: Senate is a group of governing bodies that deals with academic regulations of students on campus.
Why are you qualified to be one of our two Senate representatives?
Owen Shaw: I believe the biggest thing is I have the knowledge and experience from working with Student Union in previous years, as well as being prepared to have a seat as an executive of the UPEISU in the previous election, which Nathan Hood did get me on [laughs], but I believe I was prepared for that. I believe that I am familiar enough with the policy and that I have a strong enough voice and a passion to make change that I think I’d be a valued voice on the Council.
Zak Jarvis: The reason why I feel qualified to be one of the two Senate reps is because I understand what it’s like to struggle at times and when to face challenges. I understand I’m not perfect. I understand not everyone else is perfect. I know there are problems in the university, but I know we can work together and help fix them. Another reason why I feel I’m qualified is I just really want to help this place because I love it so much and I feel if I put my passion and hard work into it, I feel I can do a good job and help speak for other students.
Brenna Doucette: If elected to Senate, I think I’m going to provide a really mature and thoughtful voice on Senate. I think that it’s important that the Senate reps are vocal and active in Senate and I think that’s something I can provide.
Haley O’Connor: I don’t think I’m qualified at all, but everybody has some qualifications that make them ready to be a Senate representative. I served on student council for four years in high school and I sit on a couple of societies.
What is one issue with our current academic approach at UPEI?
Owen Shaw: I think one thing that should be improved greatly is how we choose the course offerings and I think that comes back to talking to future students and going to our high schools and seeing what they have to say. [Because] We can’t publish a course selection and assume students are going to go for those majors because that’s why other universities get chosen over us. So I think a big part of that is seeing what’s out there and seeing what the new trends are and what kind of majors people are going over and offer accordingly.
Zak Jarvis: One issue I find with our current academic approach is that I feel students aren’t really prepared to go into a school year, for a couple of reasons: one, they’re not really sure, especially at the first year level, they’re not really sure what to expect. But even when you go on to later years, we don’t really know what courses to actually take because we aren’t really given a heads up. There are some courses that are only given one year that we don’t know if it’s given next year or not. So I really believe that we should be given more of a chance to see what courses will be available within a full year’s time instead of a six month’s time.
Brenna Doucette: I think that students need to be more involved in the approach. What I’m hoping, if elected to Senate rep, is to draw the student opinion more so into Senate in making academic polices and academic decisions.
Haley O’Connor: Professors need to find a way to get students more engaged in going to class. Because I find even the classes that I sit in, some profs don’t care if you use your phone or not and others do, or they don’t care about attendance so you don’t show up. Students complain that they’re not doing good on things because profs just don’t seem to care if we’re going to class or not, even if we’re paying a lot of money for tuition.
What initiatives would you like to see in Council?
Owen Shaw: One of my biggest passions and just from personal experience, I know a lot of people that have actually transferred universities because they feel so ashamed to be going to UPEI. I know I’m not one of them, but that’s why I am finding a huge passion of mine to boost school engagement and school pride as well. So as far as initiatives in Council, just finding different ways to engage students to get that volunteer base going and to make people feel more engaged and more involved on campus.
Zak Jarvis: Some initiatives I would like to see in Council is more students being involved in the university. Know what’s actually going on. Get societies going. Let them know about the amazing resources we have on campus, like the amazing tutors and The Writing Centre. Because I feel if we get more students involved, they’ll be a lot happier but also their education will thrive because they’ll be excited to go to school when they start succeeding. We have plenty of resources to offer everyone and I feel if we keep growing that and get people to take part in it, we can all thrive together.
Brenna Doucette: Running off of my last point there, I really would like to see more student involvement and more student engagement. I hate to be cliché, but to build a bridge between Council and student to make sure that more students’ voices are heard — all students and not just a select few students. And that counts as both Council and Senate for me.
Haley O’Connor: More engagement.