News  Arts undergraduates seek new credit system

Council supports Industrial Relations Program, more funding for classroom renovations

The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) said on Wednesday that it would lobby for change in the advanced standing credits structure, support the existence of the Industrial Relations program, and ask McGill for more funding for classrooms.

Monday’s Winter General Assembly (GA) was unable to meet the required quorum of 150 members, and thus all motions discussed were non-binding. Motions were subsequently considered for final approval at Council Wednesday night.

Advanced Standing Credit Reform Campaign

One of the motions passed mandates AUS to lobby the Faculty of Arts to allow students to “enter the University as U0 students, with the option of being able to use advanced standing credits to avoid prerequisites.”

Currently, students who complete Advanced Placement (AP) exams, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, or A-Levels receive university credit for their secondary school work. Those who attain 24 or more credits enter the University as U1 students, and are expected to finish their program in three years.

“AUS is taking a stance on an important academic issue; this doesn’t hurt anyone, it just allows added flexibility for students… this is something that the administration is aware of. If they realize that students support it, this could be a big step moving forward,” said VP Internal Justin Fletcher, who moved the motion.

When asked about advanced credits at AUS Council, Provost Anthony Masi said that the administration was “trying to find new ways of addressing ” the issue.

Healthy Teaching and Learning Spaces

AUS was also mandated to support the Faculty of Arts in its efforts to secure more funding from the University to improve the quality of classrooms and buildings. The motion regarding Healthy Teaching and Learning Spaces, which passed at Council, is specifically aimed at room 101 of 3475 Peel.

“Over the last two years we’ve got an application for room 101 on Peel 3475, which falls under the Department of English.  Last year, the committee approved $15,000 in funding for the room; this year, they are applying again for $17,000,”  said Saad Qazi, AUS VP Finance, referring to Faculty of Arts requests made to the Arts Undergraduate Improvement Fund (AUIF) to fund renovations.

The application for the $17,000 was denied, however, on the grounds that the University – and not students – should fund these renovations.

The motion was amended at the GA to ask that the Faculty of Arts make a list of rooms that fail to meet health code requirements publicly available.

Support for the Industrial Relations Program

Another motion asked AUS to assist the McGill Industrial Relations Association (MIRA) in its campaign to support the continued existence of the Faculty Program in Industrial Relations.

The motion suggests that the University is “currently reviewing the Industrial Relations program as part of its regular process of program review, with the possibility of retirement of the program.”

“Right now there are few Arts professors with research interests in Industrial Relations and the program needs funding from the Faculty of Arts,” said Fletcher.

According to AUS VP Academic Tom Zheng, however, Faculty of Arts Dean Manfredi mentioned that the program would not be cancelled next year, but that it would enter a “transitional period.”

MIRA Representative Rebecca Tacoma noted that the Industrial Relations student association has not been informed of any official decisions not to cancel the program.

Fletcher told Council that it was “important to still demonstrate support for this program.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Reform to the VP Finance Position

Qazi and AUS President Devon LaBuik  moved a motion that seeks to reform the VP Finance position by giving AUS Council the power to determine whether or not candidates are eligible for the position.

“When you come into the VP Finance position, it requires a lot more specific skills than going into some other VP positions,” LaBuik told The Daily. “And considering that almost all the other positions rely on the VP Finance to get the money to them, I think we need to make sure that the VP Finance is reliable.”

In an interview with The Daily in September, Qazi said that AUS had significant debt when he took office. This was mainly a result of money being seized by the Quebec government when AUS failed to file taxes several years in a row.

It had also failed to submit audits to the University since 2008 because of a lack of financial reporting from departmental associations within AUS. This prompted the University to withhold student fees from the association.

The motion was tabled.

However, Qazi specified that his intent was to gauge the overall response of the GA.  He is planning on improving the motion with the addition of a list of qualifications and the planning of a training program.