Plans to restructure Leacock and reorganize its administrative units were put before roughly 30 Arts students on Tuesday night at an Arts Town Hall meeting as part of the Arts faculty’s People, Processes & Partnerships initiative.
In the basement of the building under consideration, students directed questions to Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi, Associate Dean (Academic Administration and Oversight) Gillian Lane-Mercier, and Associate Dean (Student Affairs) Lucyna Lach.
The major points of discussion were the process of student consultation and the effectiveness of the advising systems in the Arts faculty. Students voiced concerns similar to those raised at previous town halls and council meetings regarding departmental integrity and community.
On the topic of changing advising structures in the Arts faculty, Lach explained that the proposed central advising hub for the third floor of Leacock would include an Arts OASIS advisor, thereby allowing “cross-pollination” between faculty and departmental advisors.
Upon criticism of this kind of advising restructuring, as well as more general criticism of the advising system, Manfredi called upon students to explain “how it’s been ineffective.” Students responded with concerns about already existing problems such as new students no longer having assigned advisors.
A second major focus of the night was the process of student consultation, and the effectiveness of efforts designed to attract student involvement. Noting that between 40 and 50 students out of 3,000 invited attended a consultation co-hosted by AUS and OASIS, the question of how to reach a larger proportion of the student body was raised.
“We sent out information and expect[ed] it to be cascaded,” said Manfredi. Several student association representatives proposed ideas for better communication.
Morgane Suel, president of the Anthropology Students’ Association, suggested to Manfredi that they should communicate with the student associations rather than the student body, and allow the representatives to reach out on a broader scale.
History Students’ Association VP Internal Affairs Laure Spake suggested that delegates be sent to consultations from student associations so that they can better communicate with their constituents.
Other ideas for facilitating student involvement included sending emails over departmental rather than faculty listservs, or creating a board of ideas in a common space.
In an interview with The Daily, Manfredi reflected on the ideas raised with regard to student consultation. “We’re always trying to communicate with students and get their feedback…and I think we got some great ideas. […] We have an incentive to communicate effectively; we want to communicate effectively.”
While focusing on the restructuring of Leacock, the Town Hall also cast light on the plans to relocate departments in 688 Sherbrooke and the Ferrier building.
Manfredi described the plans – scheduled for this coming summer – that would see 688 Sherbrooke become the location of the East Asian Studies department, instead of the current location of the French Language department, as “not particularly problematic.” Plans for 688 Sherbrooke, according to Manfredi, are not part of the People, Processes & Partnerships initiative.
To train administrative workers to work for multiple departments in 688 Sherbrooke, a cross-training program will be implemented. This same program is proposed for training administrative workers in the Leacock building should the restructuring be approved.
Manfredi said that the administrative officers that will be affected are “quite happy about the possibility of having other people to talk to.”