On January 13th, the political science administration held a town hall attended by students and faculty regarding issues in the department, with announcements such as a revamped Law and Public Policy Diploma program, among other upcoming changes and announcements. However, the main issue for students was representation within the department.
Earlier that same week, both the Undergraduate and Graduate Political Science student societies received word from department administrators that at an upcoming faculty meeting, occurring promptly after the town hall, a motion would be voted on that would change the roles of the student societies.
The proposed action would revoke the votes of both the graduate and undergraduate student representatives in departmental meetings. With the motion in close proximity to the town hall, many students in attendance assumed the move would be addressed.
Nearing the end of the town hall administration opened the floor to students, Vice President Internal of the Graduate Society, Eqbal Nazhat, proceeded to read out a statement written on behalf of the Society. This statement expressed concern about the potential issues passing motion eight would create, urging the administration and faculty to reconsider the proposition.
“Faculty and students can work together to keep this environment as is.”Eqbal Nazhat, Vice President Internal of the Political Science Graduate Students’ Society
Other students then chimed in to express their concerns regarding the motion, including Cody Dalton, Vice President of Academics for the Undergraduate Society, who supported Nazhat and the Graduate Society’s concerns, citing the statement that the Undergraduate Society had sent to the administration that morning.
Following this, Department Head Dr. Alex Marland responded, apologizing and taking responsibility for the lack of communication cited by both societies in their statements.
“I should have made sure we were reaching out to the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Societies, and we should have sit down and had a conversation… I think that needs to happen.”Dr. Alex Marland, Department Head
Afterwards, the motion was tabled until the administration allocates time to consult with society representatives.
While this has made many hopeful for the security of student voices going forward, many are concerned about what the future brings for student representation in the political science department. Concerns are also being raised about how a lack of communication might damage the relationship between students and faculty.
“[At] this time we should be building relationships with professors instead of being excluded which in turn will hurt the relationships between students and professors.”Cody Dalton, Vice President of Academics for the Political Science Undergraduate Students’ Society
Updates are to be posted as more information becomes available.