REC Summer Updates: May to August 2022

Hello MRU students,

We are your 2022/2023 Representation Executive Council (REC). REC is comprised of four MRU students just like you who were elected by MRU’s student body to represent student issues to MRU and all levels of government. 

The 2022/2023 executive team is (from left to right):
Vice-President External, Tera Cardinal, Vice-President Academic, Yasmin Ahmed, Vice-President Student Affairs, Pamela Malec, and President Joseph Nguyen

We began our terms on May 1st, 2022, and have been working full-time for the last four months getting oriented to our roles, developing goals and priorities, gelling as a team, and advocating for student needs and priorities. 

In this post, we want to highlight some of the work we have done over the last four months. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Orientation, Training, and Priority Setting

May was a busy first month on the job for us as we attended a ton of transition sessions to give us the tools to succeed in this job.

Pamela attended the Student Union Development Summit in Vancouver, which provided informative workshops and phenomenal networking opportunities with students from across the country. 

REC updated their position statements for this year, which can be found here. This document outlines SAMRU’s official positions on a wide range of student advocacy issues. 

Government Advocacy

Tera was elected by student leaders from across Canada to the position of Director of Policy for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), a federal advocacy group of which SAMRU is a member. Tera is also this year’s co-chair of CASA’s National Indigenous Advisory Committee (NIAC).

Tera was also elected by student leaders from across Alberta to the position of Vice-Chair for the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), the provincial advocacy group for post-secondary students. SAMRU is a participating member of CAUS.  

Tera met with the new Chief of Staff for the Minister of Advanced Education and secured standing monthly meetings to discuss emerging student issues.

REC members meet with Alberta's Minister of Advanced Education
Tera & Joseph meet with Demetrios Nicolaides, Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education

During the Calgary Stampede, Tera and her leadership team at CAUS attended many events, meeting with 45% of all sitting MLAs in the Alberta Legislature as well as federal politicians, municipal politicians, political staffers, government relations employees, prominent individuals at universities, and members from other advocacy groups.

Tera attends the Calgary Stampede

Tera and Joseph have been very busy attending many conferences through CAUS and CASA in order to shape and push forward advocacy priorities at those organizations. We have finalized our provincial advocacy priorities and are still finishing up our federal advocacy priorities for the year. We also have municipal priorities developed through the Calgary Student Alliance (CSA).

CASA Policy and Strategy Conference 2022 at the University of Calgary

Indigenous Advocacy

As part of her role as the National Indigenous Advisory Committee (NIAC) co-chair, Tera hosted a panel discussion for student leaders from across Canada to help instill guidance on creating Indigenous leadership roles at their own Students’ Associations. Thanks to this panel, a number of student leaders committed to creating new paid positions for Indigenous students at their home association.

Student Finances

In May, Joseph and Yasmin voted to increase the MRU Emergency Bursary allotted to each student from $750 to $1500 per academic year. For any student who has encountered an urgent, unforeseen occurrence requiring immediate financial resources, please consider applying for this bursary through the Office of the Registrar. Know too that SAMRU also provides emergency student funds; visit this page to learn more.

Regarding student concerns around the proposed parking fee increase, REC met with MRU in May of this year to discuss. We initially tried to negotiate a lower increase; however, MRU noted that parking prices had not increased in three years and said that because the university does not receive provincial funding to subsidize parking, the increase was necessary to cover the costs associated with parking on campus. MRU stated that the one-time 10% increase is primarily due to inflation increases over the last three years, but that parking revenue is also reinvested back into the institution to support infrastructure, maintenance projects, and other services provided by MRU. Revenue from sources besides tuition fills gaps created by government cuts. Based on this information, we voted in favour of this one-time increase.

MRU Policy Changes

Yasmin and Joseph voted to approve the new Grades and Examinations Policies. As the VP Academic last year, Yasmin worked to ensure that these new policies would be beneficial for students, and is happy to report a few great changes:

  • No single component of a course can prevent a student from successfully completing the course.
  • No single component of the course can be worth more than 50% throughout the semester.
  • Professors can now require digital learning resources for their classes; however, these resources can’t exceed $100 per course and must be communicated to students at the time of registration. Further, if a student chooses not to purchase the digital learning resource, an equivalent no-cost option must be provided to the student.
  • Prior to these changes, 25% of the final grade had to be communicated by the withdrawal deadline. Now, 25% of the final grade has to be communicated by the semester mid-point, and 50% of the final grade must be communicated to students by the last day of classes. 

Yasmin and Joseph also voted to approve the new Code of Student Community Standards and Code of Student Academic Integrity Policies. These are big changes to important policies that govern the rights and responsibilities of MRU students. Therefore, Joseph advocated that MRU develop simplified, digestible cheat sheets to help students understand these policy changes. MRU has committed to developing something like this in the near future. 

Tera and Joseph attend the CAUS Changeover event alongside 2021 REC members Rachel Timmermans and Spirit River Striped Wolf

New Learning Management Software (D2L)

Over the summer, MRU decided to replace Blackboard with Desire2Learn (D2L) as MRU’s learning management software. Joseph has been heavily involved with this switch and has been working to ensure that the focus remains on the student experience. For example:

  • Joseph voted in favour to acquire the “Ally” add-on software for a 5-year term. Ally is a program that helps those with access and inclusion needs to access assignments, readings, etc. 
  • Joseph communicated to MRU that students really appreciate having early access to their courses on their Learning Management System.
  • REC has been learning about MRU’s new plagiarism detection software Turnitin and wanted to let students know that all students have the option to opt-out according to MRU policy, with no circumstance needed. Students just need to email their professor at the beginning of the course and the professor should then make other arrangements to receive assignments from that student for the entire semester. Students must do this for each individual course, but not each assignment. 
  • Joseph has also advocated that MRU faculty should educate students about how to use Turnitin to their advantage by checking how much of their essay is accidentally plagiarized.

all students have the option to opt-out [of the new plagiarism detection software] according to MRU policy, with no circumstance needed.

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI), and Gender-Based Violence Advocacy

Over the summer, Tera and Pamela have been participating in a gender-based violence working group with MRU. This group is reworking and improving MRU’s Sexual Violence Response Policy.

All four members of REC will be participating on the MRU President’s EDI Advisory Committee this year. 

Tera attended the Courage to Act student leadership workshop to discuss how to act on the recommendations of a report seeking to address and prevent sexual violence on campus. SAMRU has been heavily involved with gender-based violence advocacy for years with great success. 

Tera met with VOICE to discuss shared priorities for the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence on campus, and how to proceed with the Government of Alberta’s plan to run an Alberta-wide survey to better understand the issue of campus sexual violence on Alberta’s post-secondary campuses. 

In a meeting with MRU’s Healthy Campus Team, Pamela asked if the current dispensing machines for menstruation products could be filled with free products instead of paid ones. Pamela continues to advocate for this and make a plan to move this idea forward.

Student Recognition for Participation in Non-Academic Activities

Pamela has made it one of her goals this year to advocate that MRU provides official recognition of a student’s involvement in non-academic activities on campus.

Pamela is also planning a project to learn more about MRU students’ thoughts, preferences, and involvement in on-campus, non-academic activities. Look for her around campus throughout the fall semester with her Living Room Letters campaign.

Joseph lends a hand in the repainting of the campus pride crosswalk, alongside MRU President Tim Rahilly

Hiring Committees for Key Roles at MRU

Pamela is participating on the hiring committee for MRU’s new Director of Wellness. 

Yasmin is participating on the hiring committee for a new Vice-Provost Academic. 

Joseph recently concluded his work on the hiring committee for MRU’s new Vice-President of Finance and Administration and is pleased to welcome Mustansar Nadeem to the role.

Yasmin recently concluded her work on the hiring committee for MRU’s new Provost and VP Academic and is pleased to welcome Dr. Chad London to the role. 

Spring/Summer Course Options

As the VP Academic last year, Yasmin advocated that MRU open more summer course selections for students. This suggestion was accepted and implemented for Summer 2022, which led to an increase in enrollment for the Summer 2022 term.


Keep tabs on this blog for monthly updates from your REC to know what we’re working on, or contact us directly at representation@samru.ca. You can also visit this link to learn more about the four REC members this year as well as how to become an elected student representative yourself!

Wow, that’s a lot of progress for the slow summer months! And these are just the highlights. We, your REC members, take on our respective roles as full-time jobs over twelve months, which means that every day is full of great work happening behind the scenes dedicated to improving your student experience at MRU.