Photo by Samuel Cheffins

VP academic candidates talk research symposium, OERs at forum

By Tina Shaygan, March 5 2018 —

The two candidates running for the position of vice-president academic in the Students’ Union general election squared off on March 2 at a forum held in MacHall. Omer Mansoor and Jessica Revington answered questions from current vice-president academic Tina Miller and audience members.

Revington said she wants to focus on undergraduate research, Open Education Resources (OERs), scholarships and improving the academic experiences of students. Mansoor said his platform is focused on creating five new SU scholarships that are not based on academic merit, creating a guide on what constitutes academic misconduct and expanding OERs.

Miller asked the two candidates what inspired them to run for VP academic and what experience they can bring to the role. Mansoor said his experience on the Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) working group, sitting on the appeals committee as a faculty representative and raising funds for a science faculty year-end gala make him qualified for the position. Revington said her work as the SU nursing representative over the last two years and experience as a research assistant makes her qualified for the role.

Miller also asked the two candidates what changes should be made to the University of Calgary’s academic policies. Revington said she wants to make the process of deferring exams easier for students. Mansoor said he wants to incorporate student feedback into the academic appeals process.

A central theme of the forum was restructuring the URS.

“My vision for URS is seeing workshops being conducted leading up to URS and external sponsors for awards so the event can expand to acknowledge the hard work students do,” Revington said.

Mansoor said he wants to model URS based off of University of Alberta’s research symposium in order to include presentation methods other than posters and limiting participation to U of C students, as this was a problem for the event last year. He added that he thinks funding is the biggest issue for the event itself.

“The biggest issue is securing funding,” Mansoor said. “There are [how to research] guides available on the SU website currently.”

Audience members questioned the two candidates on what their biggest accomplishments were as faculty representatives.

“Over the past two years, one of the biggest challenges [for the role] has been building relationships with [nursing] faculty members and I’ve been doing just that,” Revington responded.

“Securing $10,000 for the year-end science gala,” Mansoor responded. “VP academic is responsible for securing funding for URS and I definitely have a lot of experience I can bring towards that.”

When questioned on expanding the use of OERs, both candidates agreed that including the usage of OERs in faculty promotion and tenure guidelines is the way forward.

Another audience member questioned Mansoor regarding the logistics of his proposed scholarships. Mansoor responded that he plans on incorporating the scholarships into the SU executive budget and the guidelines would emphasize leadership experience over academic merit.

About 30 students attended the forum. Voting days for the 2018 SU general election are March 6–8. Students can vote through their my.ucalgary.ca page or at in-person voting booths. The Gauntlet’s SU election supplement for VP academic can be found here.

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