REC Advocacy Updates: October 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 and hired by the Student Governing Board to represent student issues to MRU and all levels of government.
In this post, we want to let you know about the highlights of our advocacy work from October 2022.
MRU 2023 Budget Development
Communicating with Students
Conduct Concerns of FFCA Students
Equity, Diversion, & Inclusion
Fall Town Hall
Tera was instrumental in planning a conference in Vancouver for Indigenous post-secondary students from across Canada. Held by the National Indigenous Advisory Committee (NIAC,) the purpose of this conference was to work on developing advocacy goals and Indigenizing the work of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), the federal student advocacy group of which SAMRU is a member. Attendees prepared for meetings with Ministers throughout the year, and also participated in cultural teachings such as protocols for approaching elders and the importance of beading in Indigenous communities. The group also participated in a residential school survivors march at the University of British Columbia.
MRU 2023 Budget Development
Tera, Yasmin, and REC volunteer Kyle participated in the Tuition and Fees Consultation Committee (TFCC) hosted by MRU. Student representatives were able to review and critique MRU’s plans for tuition and fees as part of the wider budget development process. Your student reps voiced their concerns with regards to proposed increases and discussed the importance of non-academic services being properly funded.
Pamela met with MRU Wellness Services to advocate for walk-in services. Currently, the doctor’s Clinic does not offer walk-ins but they have a quick turnaround time of 24 hours, or up to 72 hours if they are particularly busy. In terms of counselling services, drop-in counselling is offered daily from 2 – 4 PM, and the department has recently doubled the number of counsellors available in this timeframe to increase the number of appointments available. Pamela was also told that they have begun to work on their website so that students can find what they are looking for within 3 clicks.
At a professional development conference for MRU faculty, Pamela advocated that all MRU faculty and staff should be receiving adequate trauma-informed training. Pamela also told the group that it would be beneficial to students if professors provided information about mental health resources on campus to help remove stigma about seeking out this kind of help.
Communicating with Students
This semester, Pamela is hosting an initiative called the Living Room Letters to meet students where they’re at. She’s got comfy seats, refreshing drinks and snacks, and, best of all, she wants to have a conversation about student involvement in extracurricular activities on campus. Visitors can also fill out a short questionnaire if they can’t stop and chat. Find her next in Recreation from November 14-18.
Joseph provided MRU with ideas for how to improve the MRU Student Newsletter, such as introducing a maximum character limit, informative pictures, and more relevant information to students. He also suggested that Newsletters should separate out topics instead of the current system where everything is conglomerated into one email.
Conduct Concerns of Foundations for the Future Charter Academy (FFCA) Students
REC is hearing concerns from MRU students about the conduct of some of the high school students from FFCA that are learning at MRU this year. REC is communicating these concerns to MRU decision-makers.
Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
We learned that student concerns in a classroom setting that involve race or other marginalized identities can be brought to the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) for further investigation. The Associate Vice-President of EDI is a brand new position at MRU this year that Yasmin helped to hire.
Pamela asked MRU about expanding and/or modifying gender-inclusive washrooms, particularly in the T-wing. Pamela received a response that MRU is looking into possibilities, but they are limited at this time. Pamela also suggested that existing gender-inclusive washrooms could be better communicated. To that end, SAMRU has made a handy map which you can find here!
Last month, we wrote a letter to lend support to MRU’s Healthy Campus Team to get free menstruation products placed in dispensing machines across campus. We were informed that this request was denied, and have therefore resumed discussions with them to ask about other ways to make this initiative happen.
SAMRU is a member of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), a provincial advocacy group made up of undergraduate student leaders from across Alberta. At October’s CAUS meeting, Joseph suggested that CAUS push the Alberta Government to provide affordable and accessible mental health support for students who partake in bursaries (such as the Northern Alberta Bursary) that require students to move to rural areas.
Joseph also suggested that CAUS push for the My Alberta Digital ID (MADI) PIN to expire in 30 days instead of 90 days. Currently, students who want to apply for student loans have to verify their MADI account with a PIN mailed to their address by the government. If the PIN gets lost, students must wait 90 days to request a new one. This can lead to missed deadlines for loan applications.
During a meeting with Greg Mclean (the MP representing MRU’s federal riding), Tera advocated on federal issues that are top of mind for students right now, including:
- Increased funding for student mental health support,
- Increased grant funding for students to help with the cost of inflation,
- Raising the lifetime loan limits higher to account for increased living costs,
- Funding for low-income and affordable housing off-campus, and
- Streamlining the Permanent residency application process to address the years-long waiting list for approval.
Tera attended a Government of Alberta announcement with Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides and then-Premier Jason Kenney to announce an increase in funding for international nursing students.
On November 2nd, the Fall Town Hall was held in Wyckham House! This was an opportunity for students to learn what we’ve been up to and where our ongoing projects are headed. Here, we discussed MRU’s grading and examinations policy, MRU’s budget, health and wellness initiatives, and more. We solicited questions from students in advance which gave us great insight into the pertinent issues faced by MRU students. If you missed the live event, don’t worry! SAMRU went live on Facebook and YouTube for the duration of the Town Hall, and a recording of the whole event can be found here!
Thanks for reading!
We, your REC members, are employed in our respective roles full-time over twelve months, which means that every day is full of advocacy and representation happening behind the scenes dedicated to improving your student experience at MRU.
Keep your eyes open for updates, statements, and more on these and other upcoming initiatives on social media by following the SAMRU REC Twitter at https://twitter.com/samrurec. If you have questions, you can always contact us directly either at our respective emails or at email@example.com. You can also visit this link to learn more about the four REC members this year as well as how to potentially become an elected student representative yourself!