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UNBSU Council

The UNBSU council discussed open educational resources as well as an update on the Student Union’s efforts to extend the add/drop date for courses on Sunday night.

Open educational resources are online teaching materials that are free and openly licensed. The UNBSU has been advocating for them since the beginning of the school year with its textbook price campaign. A plebiscite question in the UNBSU by-election asked students if they supported the UNBSU in advocating for the open educational resources.

In council on Sunday, UNBSU president Herbert Bempah gave an update on the topic of open educational resources. Bempah also brought forward a position statement outlining the UNBSU’s advocacy for open educational resources, which he said was modelled after a similar one at the University of Lethbridge.

“So obviously, we had the plebiscite; I made a few presentations to some faculties. The result was positive, but I realized that we actually didn’t approve the position statements on where we stand in regards to [open educational resources],” said Bempah.

Councillor Seshu Iyengar brought up the need for a more specific policy on how the Student Union envisioned accomplishing their goal of open educational resources, prompting a proposed amendment to the position statement by councillor Abram Lutes.

“I think that it makes sense to have an ad-hoc committee—at least for the time being—to focus and concentrate on [open educational resources], that can be dissolved maybe once this becomes more tangible and we can then divide it among other relevant standing committees,” said Lutes.

Council ended up passing a motion to create an ad-hoc committee, with the goal of establishing and developing ideas related to making open educational resources a reality at the university. The position statement has been tabled for next week.

UNBSU hope to get ‘W’s removed from student transcripts

Vice-president internal Chris McGinn brought an update to council about extending the add/drop date for courses to two weeks after classes start instead of one—a project he’s been working on all summer and recently presented to the Registrar Advisory Committee.

McGinn said that the committee did not disagree about extending the drop date for classes and omitting the ‘W’, but that they had concerns about adding courses so late in the term.

They just didn’t like that students could add courses [two weeks into the term]… They had no problem with people dropping courses two weeks into the term and not receiving a W, but they didn’t like people being able to add courses that far in,” McGinn said.

Although the Registrar Advisory Committee has no official power, committee members recommended that McGinn reach out to other universities that have a longer add/drop date period—something McGinn noted was the case with many other institutions—to see how they’ve “gone about dealing with it.”

McGinn was inspired to push for an extension of the add/drop course date because of the negative implications a “W’ can have on one’s transcript. The ‘W’, which stands for ‘withdrawn’, is added to students’ transcripts if they drop a class after the first full week of classes and before the end of October. Although a ‘W’ does not affect one’s GPA or result in academic penalty, it is a mark that many students do not want on their transcripts.

During his conversation with the committee, McGinn found out that reasoning behind the “W’ in the first place.

“[The ‘W’] was supposed to have no negative implications whatsoever and now it has this big negative stigma around it that if you have a ‘W’ on your transcript like it’s really bad,” said McGinn.

The W was designed as a way to internally monitor which students drop courses. It isn’t something that a lot of other institutions do—and McGinn would like to see the removal of the ‘W’ off of student’s transcripts, thereby making the university’s internal tracking much less public.

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