McGill will not accept a motion passed at Senate last Wednesday that would both suspend the current travel directive as it stands and require that the directive pass through the Senate’s Steering Committee for consultation.
On Friday, the administration notified SSMU President Kay Turner that the directive – which prohibits curricular and co-curricular travel to potentially dangerous regions and countries – was an administrative decision and outside of the purview of Senate.
“This raises an interesting question about what is and isn’t in the purview of Senate,” said Nadya Wilkinson, SSMU VP University Affairs. “It’s worrying if the administration can randomly decide what their governing bodies could or could not consult on.”
According to Alex DeGuise, PGSS VP Academic, allowing the directive to exist without student and faculty input was troubling.
“I think people are going to be upset,” Deguise said. “We understand that safety comes first [with the directive], but people need to be able to do their research.”
The directive as it currently stands prohibits undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral fellows from undertaking McGill-sponsored travel for research purposes or internships.
An updated version of the directive was intended to be available by the end of October, but it no longer carries a definite release date. Once ready, however, a mechanism for feedback from administrators, faculty, and students is supposed to be introduced.
Wilkinson insisted that Senate was the appropriate venue for debate which the directive would need in order for consideration of the complexity of the policy to take place.
“For this not to choke academic life on campus, it would need to come to Senate to be discussed,” said Wilkinson. “It needs widespread consultation due to its effects on the lower levels of the University’s hierarchical structure.”
SSMU and PGSS are planning to work with other Senate members in responding to the administration, but have not yet indicated what action they will take.