Checking Senate's makeup
By Kevin Gale
Student senator Jerry Topolski hit a roadblock yesterday when he tried to get a sense of the reasons behind the makeup of Western's Senate.
Topolski put forth an unsuccessful motion to ask the Senate operations and agenda committee to research the history of Senate composition and make a recommendation by next Sept. 1 based on the research.
He questioned what the rationale for Senate composition was, and why the faculty of engineering only had two seats and the faculty of medicine five. Topolski added a move by Senate to establish an understanding of itself would be a positive and worthy exercise.
Topolski pointed to an excerpt of the UWO Act which states the criteria for Senate membership should relate to the ability to identify and serve the university's best interests.
He added a review of the current composition of Senate should be undertaken to see how to best achieve this task.
Western's VP-administration Peter Mercer said the issue could be resolved in other ways, such as a consultation with the university secretariat.
"I believe I could answer every one of those questions," said Jan Van Fleet, Senate chair. "All of the things listed as part of the wish list for the UWO Act committee were answered."
Topolski said even if his questions could be answered through Van Fleet, researching the history of Senate composition is still worthwhile. "Who says we can't be doing it better in the future," he said. "This would set some direction for the future."
Dean of social science, Peter Neary, said it would be premature to pass the motion without preliminary information given to senators.
Jeffrey Stokes, dean of music, said the rationale for Senate composition was listed in a letter from Mercer and Western's president, Paul Davenport to Senate, when the issue first arose with the creation of the faculties of open communication and learning and applied health sciences next year.
"The letter may be vague but that's the way it is," Van Fleet said.
The letter stipulates the Senate composition should "reflect a broad spectrum of academic and disciplinary experience and perspective" and a clear majority of seats on Senate should be from those holding academic appointments and students. However, the composition of Senate will not be directly in proportion to the size of the individual faculties.
Van Fleet said she was never consulted on the issue by Topolski, but added she would be willing to work with Mercer to explain the specifics of Senate in relation to the motion.