Roundup: Committees at the Faculty of Law

Aidan Campbell (2L), Amani Rauff (2L), Davina Shivratan (1L), Louell Taye (1L), Norm Yallen (1L), Rabiya Mansoor (2L), Shari Nathan (2L), SuJung Lee (1L)

Much of the policy-making at the law school is done through various committees who report to either the Dean or Faculty Council at large. These committees are chaired by and composed of a mix of faculty, staff, and sometimes students from the SLS and the GLSA. They meet anywhere from not at all (on an ‘as-necessary’ basis) to a few times a year, in order to discuss and make decisions on issues touching on every aspect of the student experience.

While students usually gain access to the final reports and proposals of these committees just prior to voting at Faculty Council, the committees are often opaque and difficult to obtain information on. Ultra Vires began reporting on these committees last year, in an effort to create some transparency around their workings.

For further background on the difficulty of obtaining information on the committees, see last year’s roundup.

This list will be updated as committees meet this semester, and further information becomes available. Information on the following committees will be added: Academic Standing Committee, Admissions Committee, Non-Statutory Holidays Committee, Student-Run Journals Committee, Workload Committee.

Appeals Committee
Members: H. Stewart (Chair), Faculty-wide membership with panels assembled on ad-hoc basis. Students: A. Yu (1L), S. Lewis (2L)

Mandate/What’s it Done This Year?/What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year:

The Appeals Committee has not met this year, and the student members have yet to receive a mandate.

Curriculum Committee
Members: K. Rittich (Chair), A. Drassinower, M. Fadel, S. Moreau, A. Niblett, D. Schneiderman, R. Stacey, C. Valcke (Fall), S. Faherty. Students: A. Gershoig (2L), S. Mosonyi (2L), D. Wang (3L), G. Bowley (grad)

Mandate:

The new Committee’s mandate for the year is two-fold: first, to review proposed changes to next year’s curriculum (for instance, approving new courses and modifying course descriptions). Second, the Committee will explore the feasibility of an intersessional term in January. This continues the work of last year’s committee, which prepared a report for the March 23, 2016 Faculty Council (available on E.Legal).

What’s it Done This Year?

The Committee has decided that the intersessional term, if introduced, would begin no earlier than January 2019. Last year’s Committee has ruled out a one week intersession. It would either be two or three weeks. This is essentially a 2-3 week long period in January where mandatory intensive courses would be taught. Students would receive credits for these courses. The intersession would be credit-neutral, meaning that students would be carrying fewer credits during the Winter term, so that the overall impact on workload is expected to be neutral.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

At the next meeting, the Committee will be discussing more models for the intersessional term and look at proposed changes to next year’s curriculum.

Directed Research Committee
Members: A. Fernandez & A. Drassinower (Co-Chairs)

Mandate/What’s it Done This Year?

At the beginning of each semester, the Directed Research Committee reviews proposals submitted by students to do Directed Research Papers, which it has done this year in both the fall and winter terms.
What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

There are no plans for any more activities by the Committee for the balance of the year.

Financial Aid Committee
Members: A. Archbold & B. Alarie (Co-Chairs), A. Niblett, E. Satterthwaite, A. Yoon, A. Mohaghegh, R. Puran. Students: S. McKenzie (1L), K. Longo (2L), S. Bittman (3L)

Mandate/What’s it Done This Year? 

The Tuition and Financial Aid Committee addresses student concerns about tuition and financial aid, reviews financial aid appeals, and reviews financial aid and tuition policies.
The Committee has focused much of its efforts so far on reviewing financial aid disbursement appeals. The SLS reps who sit on the Committee have also conveyed student feedback on tuition and financial aid they received at the SLS Financial Aid Town Hall and through other channels to the Committee. Specifically, the Committee has discussed increasing transparency and understanding by creating concise resources to explain some aspects of the financial aid, including the appeals process and the Post-Graduation Debt Relief Program (PGDRP).

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

The Committee is looking to clarify the appeals process, including providing examples of appeals grounds that are likely to be successful and unsuccessful. They also plan to administer a survey to alumni who have accessed the PGDRP to ask about their experience. The Committee plans to assess current financial aid policy by examining alternative disbursement models and review the current ‘deemed’ amounts for married students which includes both spousal and parental deemed amounts.

Gender, Accessibility & Diversity Committee
Members: S. Faherty (Chair), A. Emon, A. Fernandez, T. Lemmens, E. Satterthwaite, M. Shaffer, A. Archbold, A. Carling, J. Poon-Ting, D. Thibodeau. Students: A. Yu (1L), K. Longo (2L), J. Kras (2/3L), H. Abraham (Grad), M. Levine (Grad)

Mandate/What’s it Done This Year? 

The Committee is mandated with advising the Faculty on ways to reach out and recruit a diverse community, and offering those students supports, resources, and programs that will help ensure their academic and professional success.

The Committee has discussed ways to approach diversity in the law school, including both systemic approaches and application to particular issues (e.g. take-home exams). In addition, they have collectively reviewed the 2014 Diversity Survey. They have not yet accomplished any material or measurable goals, though SLS members have pushed for concrete action and mechanisms for assessing those actions.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

The Committee is aiming to administer a new diversity survey this year, and have invited a member of the University to attend a committee meeting to discuss how to effectively draft a new survey to deal with some of the issues identified in the 2014 version. However, with only two meetings left this academic year it is doubtful that a survey will be drafted and administered in time to accomplish this goal.

Graduate Education Committee
Members: M. Prado (Chair), LLM Admissions: L. Katz, S. Stern; SJD Admissions: J. Brunnee, A. Katz, D. Reaume; Graduate Academic Appeals: A. Drassinower, B. Langille, D. Reaume, A. Fernandez (alternative). Students: LLM Admissions: J. Enman-Beech (SJD); Graduate Academic Appeals: P. Koundouros (LLM), E. Sarid (SJD)

Admissions
Mandate/What’s it Done This Year?/What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

The Committee looks at LL.M. applications on a rolling basis (one member reports having reviewed a dozen or so so far). The Committee is composed of a combination of professors and non-professor staff, as well as one student who provides the “student perspective”. This is the first year a student has been part of the LL.M. admissions process.

Each Committee member looking at a certain application scores it and provides comments explaining their score. Not all Committee members look at every application. In particular, some are obviously unacceptable (e.g. miss out on minimum requirements) while others are obvious admits (top marks from a top school with top references, etc.). The score is meant to be a holistic assessment of all the parts of an application – transcripts, references, strength of personal statement and plan of study or thesis proposal, special circumstances, if any, CV.

Academic Appeals

The Graduate Academic Appeals Committee hasn’t met yet this year.

Library and Technology Committee
Members: G. Medves & A. Katz (Co-Chairs); A. Emon, S. Moreau, M. Thorburn, P. Handley (Winter – Feb 07), Y. Henry (while P. Handley is on leave), S. Kim, D. Reid. Students: S. Mosonyi (2L), Z. Al-Khatib (3L), A. Martin (Grad).

Mandate/What’s it Done This Year? 

Given the fairly recent move to the new Bora Laskin Law Library, this year the Library and Technology Committee’s mandate is to act as a conduit for suggestions from students and faculty regarding the new space. In addition, the Committee has been asked to do the following:
• Investigate ways to improve the gathering of citation metrics for the Faculty and production of more effective citation analytics.
• Consider the issue of preserving and digitizing the Library’s unique collections, including historic casebooks as well as recent Blackboard materials.
• Review the results from the 2016 Student Experience Survey, and consider how the student experience can be enhanced
The Committee hasn’t met yet this year.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

The Committee is planning to work collaboratively to examine these issues to provide advice and recommendations to the Dean in an advisory capacity. “As we approach the anniversary of our first year in the new Law Library and having had the experience of ‘living’ in the new space, [the Committee] is hoping that we can get good feedback in terms of what works well but also what needs improvement.”

Student Affairs Committee

Appointments Committee

Clinical & Experiential Education/Mooting & Advocacy Committee
Members: V. Chiao, T. Duggan, I. Lee (Winter), E. Satterthwaite, M. Shaffer, M. Thorburn, A. Archbold, L. Cirillo, C. Milne. Students: A. Marshall (1L), E. Fonarev (3L), D. Wang (3L)

Mandate:

The Committee’s mandate is still under discussion and may change. The Committee makes recommendations about moot/experiential learning opportunities, gets feedback from students and faculty, and looks into getting more opportunities for both mooting and experiential learning.

What’s it Done This Year?

The Committee has been determining its mandate and its scope.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

The Committee plans to review and determine new experiential learning and mooting opportunities.

Clerkships Committee

Course Assignments Committee

Distinguished Visitors and Special Lectures Selection Committee

Environmental Sustainability Working Group
Members: D. Reaume (Chair), A. Green (Fall), R. Stacey, P. Handley (Winter – Feb 07), A. Henry (while P. Handley is on leave), G. Medves. Students: T. Dolny (2L), S. Mason-Case (Grad)

Mandate:

There is no official mandate that the students are aware of, except that the group operates under the umbrella of the Faculty Council. The group itself is advisory to the Dean.

What’s it Done This Year?

The group has met once this year in January. Professor Reaume has made a proposal that the group be improved through a restructuring process that would improve institutional memory, revise the group’s Best Practices Handbook and give the working group more operating power. Sarah Mason-Case also suggested that the group stage a panel to occur in late 2017 on how carbon caps on the overall university community affect the Faculty of Law. The group scheduled an environmental walk-through tour detailing environmentally friendly features of the new building. General concerns about both the library and the café’s recycling and heating policies were discussed. Student feedback about bike racks and showers were also solicited from Tamie Dolny (2L rep).

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

The Committee is waiting on news from the Dean’s Office as to whether an alternative model is appropriate. Professor Reaume has submitted an alternative model inter-office memo to the Dean’s Office penning out submissions to improve the efficacy of the group itself.

Research Advisory Committee
Members: K. Knop (Chair), L. Austin, Y. Dawood, A. Macklin, P. Macklem, S. Stern, A. Yoon, A. Cox

Mandate:

The group is an ad hoc advisory committee to the Dean and explores issues relating to faculty research as they arise.

What’s it Done This Year?

The group does not undertake any plans or projects but offers initial advice to the Dean.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

Since the group is responsive to problems as they arise throughout the year, its specific process will vary depending on the particular issue.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Committee
Members: M. Moran & D. Sanderson (Co-Chairs), K. Rittich, B. Chapman, A. Archbold, A. Carling, M. Rosenstock. Students: J. Kras (2/3L), D. Varette (3L, ALSA).

Mandate:

The Committee’s mandate is to review and implement the recommendations outlined in the April 2015 TRC Committee’s report to Faculty Council, and respond to concerns identified by the law school community and Dean. A pressing priority for the Committee, outlined in that report, is executing the recommendation that the TRC Committee be made a standing Committee. This recognizes that the appropriate response to the TRC report will shift overtime, and that a single static solution to Call to Action #28 would be inadequate in light of the continuum of education evident in the full TRC report.

What’s it Done This Year?

At the first Faculty Council of the 2016-2017 academic year, Professor Douglas Sanderson presented a report drafted by last year’s Committee in April 2015. Prof. Sanderson reviewed steps the Faculty had taken since the report was drafted in April 2015. These measures included: establishing ALSA representation at Faculty Council; equipping the ALSA office to safely accommodate smudging; committing to featuring aboriginal art in the new building; purchasing additional hand drums for convocation ceremonies; and hosting Aboriginal Law projects and speakers. Some of these developments were related to curriculum, such as: surveying faculty to ascertain the extent of the current Aboriginal law curriculum; hiring an RA for faculty interested in teaching more Aboriginal law; offering John Borrows’ “Indigenous Law in Context” intensive; and already incorporating two Indigenous legal tradition sessions taught by Prof. Sanderson into the 1L Legal Methods course. Dean Iacobucci and Prof. Sanderson are also trying to meet with the new Chief of the Mississaugas of New Credit to work on establishing a long-term relationship. In his presentation Prof. Sanderson revisited the recommendation that the Committee be made a standing Committee given its continually evolving mandate, and Dean Iacobucci confirmed that this recommendation was being implemented.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

The Committee is meeting in the next week or so. Stay tuned for an update!

Centre for Transnational Legal Studies Committee
Members: M. Prado, K. Rittich, K. Roach (Fall), H. Stewart, A. Archbold

Mandate:

The group is an ad hoc advisory committee to the Dean and explores issues relating to the Centre for Transnational Legal Studies as they arise.

What’s it Done This Year?

The group does not undertake any plans or projects but offers initial advice to the Dean.
What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

Since the group is responsive to problems as they arise throughout the year, its specific process will vary depending on the particular issue.

Faculty Life in New Building Committee
Members: A. Fernandez, M. Friedland, A. Green (Fall), L. Katz, D. Reaume, P. Handley (Winter – Feb 07), A. Henry (while P. Handley is on leave), G. Medves

Mandate:

The group is an ad hoc advisory committee to the Dean and explores issues relating to the move of all faculty offices to the Jackman Law Building, as they arise.

What’s it Done This Year?

The group does not undertake any plans or projects but offers initial advice to the Dean.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

Since the group is responsive to problems as they arise throughout the year, its specific process will vary depending on the particular issue.

Mental Health & Wellness Committee
Members: A. Archbold & A. Emon (Co-Chairs), T. Duggan, L. Katz, A. Carling, Y. Henry, S.M. Hubbard, J. Laporte, Students: N. Anzik (1L), K. Longo (2L), S. Lewis (2L), M. Marinett

Mandate:

The Committee’s mandate is to review and finalize the draft Mental Health Strategic Action Plan put together based on student input and best practices at other post secondary institutions, including wider consultation with the law school community. The Committee’s work will culminate in a final report of recommendations being presented at Faculty Council including implementation strategy.

What’s it Done This Year?

The Committee has been dedicating much of their time to reviewing the Mental Health and Wellness Strategic Action Plan 2016-17, a draft of which was presented by Co-Chair Alexis Archbold at the January 18th Faculty Council Meeting. In addition, they have discussed concerns about student feedback and the role of the Student Advisory Committee.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

The Committee aims to have a final Mental Health and Wellness Strategic Action Plan completed and implemented by the end of the year. The Committee is hosting a Town Hall on January 26th to canvass student feedback on the draft, and will then reconvene to consider students’ suggestions and concerns raised at that town hall. As the semester draws to a close, the Committee will be discussing implementation strategy, and addressing any other potential concerns students bring to the committee.

Student-Run Journals Committee
Members: K. Knop & D. Reaume (Co-chairs), A. Macklin, S. Stern, L. Weinrib, J. Bolan (Winter), R. Levi

Mandate:

The group is an ad hoc advisory committee to the Dean which does preliminary thinking about the place of the student-run journals within the program.

What’s it Done This Year?

The committee does not initiate any specific plans but offers suggestions for change that will be fed into the usual decision-making processes as appropriate.

What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year?

Since the group is responsive to problems as they arise throughout the year, its specific process will vary depending on the particular issue.