Undergraduates of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design were given a forum to voice their concerns and become involved in governance at the Architecture and Visual Studies Student Union’s (AVSSU) Winter Town Hall and Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 14.
The AGM is AVSSU’s yearly governance meeting that is open to its general membership. Members voted on amendments to the union’s bylaws and constitution, which concerned the structure and function of student governance positions.
Grading discrepancy, heating issues
During the town hall, a Daniels student brought up a concern about a grading discrepancy for students in ARC382: Structures, Building Systems, and Environments in the fall. She said that she and other students have found grading discrepancies between marks recorded on returned paper assignments and marks recorded electronically on Quercus, which has affected final grades.
Professor Jeannie Kim acknowledged the issue, but said that “even though they potentially affect a large scale of students, they are in most case, from what I understand, relatively minor discrepancies.” She confirmed that faculty are working on resolving the issue.
Andrea McGee, Registrar & Assistant Dean, recommended that affected students submit a regrade request for the final mark to the registrar’s office with supporting documentation, after which her office would examine the case in consultation with the professor.
A second major concern from students was “very inconsistent” heating in a new part of One Spadina, causing high temperatures. McGee confirmed that the faculty is aware and affected by the issue. She noted that her office is directly affected by high heat, and that faculty have been working on a solution.
Complaint about attendance grades
A third Daniels student reported a controversial decision by Professor Petros Babasikas to begin grading students based on attendance in ARC354: History of Housing. According to the student, the professor sent an email announcement that “attendance was now mandatory” in both lectures and tutorials, partway through the semester.
She continued by saying that this would constitute a change in the syllabus’ grading scheme, which could not be done without a vote involving students.
In response, Kim acknowledged that “the wording [of the professor’s email] may have been stronger than it was intended to be.” From her understanding, the professor intended the email to act as “an incentive” to attend lecture.
McGee added that it “doesn’t sound like an actual syllabus change or grading practices violation took place,” as it is in the professor’s rights to use attendance to grade students based on the existing participation mark within the syllabus, but added that she would be in touch with the professor.
In an email to The Varsity after the meeting, Babasikas clarified that the taking of attendance has been a new practice in the past two lectures as a way to encourage students to show up to lecture.
“As I already explained to the students, the record of this attendance does not factor into their grade… So the attendance is indeed an incentive and in no way a change in grading policies.”
Unanimous vote passes amendments to constitution and bylaws
AVSSU followed the town hall with its AGM, which passed amendments concerning the structure of AVSSU’s governance, as well as the role of its executives.
The bylaw amendments granted voting rights to the Vice-President Academic, Health & Wellness Commissioner, Sustainability Commissioner, and Equity Commissioner, and adjusted the roles of several executive positions. They also clearly defined the roles of AVSSU representatives.
Additionally, the constitutional amendment involved the addition of “a second Architectural Studies: Comprehensive Stream Representative” to better reflect the large number of students in that program.
The AGM concluded with the general members present unanimously voting to approve all changes.