The September Senate meeting saw discussion over the U of O’s bilingualism and rankings. Photo: Zainab Al-Mehdar.
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Town halls to be held regularly in order to improve university rankings

On Sept. 18, the University of Ottawa met for the first time during the fall term of the 2017-18 academic year, where members raised concerns over official bilingualism on campus and discussed the current rankings of the university.

The Senate sets educational policies and manages academic issues on campus such as the creation or the discontinuance of a department, faculty, or institute.

The first order of business was electing members for the Senate committees, such as the executive committee and the undergraduate studies committee.

Following this, U of O president Jacques Frémont said that the U of O ranks high when it comes to research, while its overall reputation is falling. According to Frémont, reputation is an intangible issue and difficult to quantify, and thus harder to find areas to improve upon, while research can be measured by publications released and the work conducted by students and staff. According to Frémont, the university will be holding monthly town hall meetings in order to listen to student and professor feedback to improve on its overall ranking.

“Students are welcome to come and share their feedback in a productive way, so that we can work with the recommendations brought forward and get some ideas on how the university can be improved but also how the reputation can be improved,” said Tristan Lamonica, a fourth-year communications student and Faculty of Arts representative on the Senate, who also sits on the undergraduate studies committee.

According to Lamonica, the Senate is “always overlooked, either because (students) are not informed or because it seems a little more tedious and boring than some of the clubs and committees on our campus.”

The meeting also focused heavily on bilingualism at the U of O and improving the experience for the Francophone students on campus. Some examples of creating a better experience included improving the quality of French programs, improving the quality of courses that are offered in French, and increasing the availability of French-language classes.

Senate members also raised concerns over monolingual English advertisements on campus, despite the fact that the U of O has a bilingual policy. According to Lamonica, this is due to the fact that the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) does not have an official bilingual policy, and so many monolingual ads in the University Centre may be hosted by the federation.

“We are always talking about lobbying the university to do better—in a lot of respects the SFUO actually has to catch up and do better,” said Lamonica.

The next Senate meeting will take place on Monday, October 23 at 3 p.m. in Tabaret Hall room 083. Meetings are open to the public.