October 30, 2003

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Senate favours new faculty
After a 90-minute debate, senators at the October session of senate voted overwhelmingly (27 to 5) to recommend that the board of governors create a new faculty of health sciences effective September 2004. This faculty will be a departure from the traditional medical model and will focus on the social, population and biological determinants of diseases, and the implications those determinants hold for public health policies.

SFU's sixth faculty would have a core complement of 14 faculty members chosen for their multi-disciplinary approach to health-related research and their ability to examine questions from varying methodological perspectives. The faculty would house a new master's program in population and public health, and be an incubator for future undergraduate and graduate health programs. Several senators were concerned that the new faculty's creation was premature and might compete with existing health-related programs and research in the faculties of science and applied science. They felt an insufficient number of faculty members had identified themselves as supporters of the new faculty, and that its goals could be realized through SFU's existing Institute of Health Research and Education (IHRE).

Supporters of the new faculty noted that the IHRE does not have the power to create and offer academic programs. They stressed that the new faculty would help SFU secure more federal funding for health-related research, an area that consumes 50 per cent of direct funding.

Support funding publicly
Senators overwhelmingly agreed to publicly support a motion calling on all levels of government to make funding of post-secondary education an immediate priority. Student senator and Simon Fraser student society member Chris Giacomantonio put forth the motion as a vehicle for getting senators to publicly commit to making government underfunding of post-secondary education a future election issue.

Senators only agreed to take a public stance after the motion had been amended to tone down the language and remove references to the federal government being partially responsible for the decline in the quality and accessibility of post-secondary education. Senators predominantly felt the federal government should be praised for putting more money into university research and scholarships.

While senators at their September meeting quashed Giacomantonio's motion to waive a two per cent penalty charged on late or unpaid tuition for students boycotting tuition, at the October meeting they passed a new motion, 19 to 17, to recommend that the funds resulting from these penalties should be applied to SFU student bursaries.

Giacomantonio recommended that the additional money going to the university as a result of the boycott be targeted for bursaries. After debating whether these funds could be identified and reasonably estimated, senators voted to recommend that the board of governors allocate them for bursaries. While some senators felt the motion enabled students to avoid the consequences associated with taking political action, others felt it helped draw attention to the need for increased government funding of post-secondary education.

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