Since Sept. 1, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Senate and Board of Governors student representatives started their term creating change for the university and student community.
The KPU Senate is the senior academic governing body at KPU under the University Act. Some of their roles and responsibilities include setting curriculum content for programs, qualifications for admission, and organizing the student appeal process. The Board of Governors is also organized under the University Act but is based on volunteers to serve the university. Their responsibilities include managing administration and control of the property, revenue, business, and affairs of the university.
Xavier Ardez, Olivia Takaoka, and Purru Sandhu are the three student representatives that were elected to the KPU Senate in April of last year and Rahul Malhotra was elected to the Board of Governors. Their term ends on Aug. 31.
Each student senator represents the interests of all KPU students on a higher academic level, and they have a say on issues such as curriculum changes, improving learning support for students, and viewing the university budget. By participating in the meetings and voting, it makes sure that students and faculty or staff have a voice in important decisions revolving around KPU.
Xavier Ardez is a student in the computer-aided design and drafting program. In the Senate, he is a member of the Senate Governance and Nominating Committee, which advises Senate members on conducting meetings and other tasks.
In addition, Ardez is also part of the Senate Standing Committee on Program Review, which oversees the process of changes or improvements to programs at KPU. In these committees, his responsibilities are attending monthly meetings, taking leadership in other committees and making nominations to fill an empty seat when needed, and reading reports produced by other members of the Senate.
“I’ve been liking it a lot,” Ardez says. “Being part of Senate gave me an insight on how things are really done at KPU.”
During his first semester in the Senate, Ardez contributed to voting for new members on the Senate Governance and Nominating Committee due to faculty changes at the time and created an annual follow-up report for the Program Review Committee.
“What I’ve done is I took what they submitted, and I’ve seen what they can do to improve,” Ardez says. “But these reports are generally well done, so I just read it and submit it for review.”
“My review on that annual follow-up report took me a lot of time. The file was quite large. I had to go through a lot of information and make sure it was correct and what was in there made sense.”
Since Jan. 24, KPU has returned to in-person classes for the spring semester. Ardez says based off of the university’s return to campus plan, he feels safe being on campus and attending classes in-person.
“Obviously it’s not going to be perfect,” Ardez says. “It seems that they did take the due diligence to follow the [provincial health orders] in making our policies and guidelines. Overall, I feel that we are on the right track going in-person.”
Out of the Senate meetings Ardez has attended, one, in particular, stood out to him because he got to see how accepting and appreciative the faculty community is at KPU.
“We had a meeting where we could choose awards for certain faculty members,” he says. “That was a real highlight to me because it shows that the faculty do actually care about each other and they see each other’s accomplishments.”
Moving forward on the Senate, Ardez says he is looking forward to and hoping he will be finding positions for faculty on the Senate and conducting interviews.
“Since I haven’t done that before, I am just really looking forward to helping KPU with those tasks,” he says. “Seeing the steps that the institution actually takes to incur these changes is a lot more in-depth compared to just being at KPU.”
Before KPU English student Olivia Takaoka joined the Senate, she was always interested in government and politics.
Takaoka is part of the Senate Standing Committee on Curriculum and vice-chair on the Senate Standing Committee on Teaching and Learning. She was nominated for the new position on Nov. 4 and began her new term on Dec. 1.
“I’m quite proud of just getting that opportunity and for people on the committee to put their trust in me, especially being the student among different staff and faculty,” Takaoka says.
In addition to becoming vice-chair on the teaching and learning committee, Takaoka also helped fill empty positions and is working on revising the Essential Skills Policy. This policy is meant to ensure programs at KPU are teaching students essential skills like problem-solving, interpersonal, writing skills, and more. Takaoka is working with other staff and faculty members at KPU to revise the policy over the next few months.
She says the meetings have gone well since September, and it’s interesting to see more of KPU’s administrative side and what goes on to keep the university running.
“It’s interesting to see and hear all the different things that actually happen,” Takaoka says. “It’s very different than coming to class, doing my work and going home.”
Takaoka adds that while the pandemic has caused uncertainty, she says KPU has done a great job preparing students and faculty to return to campus safely. While she hasn’t been in contact with the university about their return to campus plan, she says it sounds like everyone is doing everything they can to keep everyone safe.
“I know that they wouldn’t have us come back to campus if it wasn’t truly safe. I do feel quite confident in returning to campus,” she says. “Education is so important, and people shouldn’t have to sacrifice their personal feeling of comfort and safety to get their education.”
As Takaoka continues her role on the Senate and vice-chair on one of the committees, she says she hopes for more learning opportunities.
“At the end of the day, I’m learning so much,” Takaoka says. “I just hope that I can learn as much as I possibly can this next semester before my term ends.”
“I encourage any student who’s potentially interested in joining the Senate or Board of Governors to do so,” Takaoka says. “It’s a really great opportunity, and it’s truly so valuable and adds to the upper-level education experience.”
Purru Sandhu and Rahul Malhorta could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.