Representation Executive Council (REC) 2021-2022 year in review

2021-22 SAMRU Representation Executive Council from left to right: Rachel Timmermans, Spirit River Striped Wolf, Yasmin Ahmed, and Joseph Nguyen

Hello MRU students,

We are your 2021/2022 Representation Executive Council (REC). REC comprises 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 2021/2022 executive team is:

  • President Spirit River Striped Wolf
  • Vice-President Student Affairs Joseph Nguyen
  • Vice-President External Rachel Timmermans
  • Vice-President Academic Yasmin Ahmed

Our terms are coming to an end after one very full year, and in this post, we want to let you know about our highlights from the past twelve months. 

COVID Advocacy

As we’re sure you don’t need reminding, Covid was a major part of our experience as MRU students from 2021-2022. Although we were largely in-person for the fall semester, Covid roared back in winter 2022 and led to major disruptions. 

Our advocacy led to MRU agreeing to extend the add/drop date for the fall semester, the withdrawal deadline for both the fall and winter semesters, and the reintroduction of the Covid Pass/Covid Fail option for the winter semester. We also pushed for MRU to stop the back and forth of in-person and online class delivery, instead suggesting that they make a decision and stick to it.

In addition, SAMRU, along with the Mount Royal Faculty Association and the Mount Royal Staff Association, agreed to partner in pushing the Alberta Government and MRU to keep masking requirements until the end of the Winter semester. Students were promised a certain level of safety precautions in place for this semester and we believed that these standards should be maintained. However, the minister upheld his original directive that post-secondaries were to remove mask mandates for the rest of the semester.

Sexual Violence Prevention Advocacy

On February 15th, Rachel participated in a press conference at SAIT with the Alberta Minister of Advanced Education, who announced funding and policy direction to tackle the pervasive issue of sexual violence on Alberta’s post-secondary campuses. The announced changes directly came from work that SAMRU has done since 2018. See the government’s release and watch Rachel in action here.

On the internal side, Joseph asked MRU’s Executive Director of Student Affairs Chris Rogerson what senior administration has done with the recommendations in SAMRU’s 2021 report on Dating, Domestic, and Sexual Violence on campus. In response, Chris said that there is a Sexual Violence working group/task force currently being developed. SAMRU will ensure that students have a voice on this task force.

MRU/MRFA Contract Negotiations

2021-22 REC members at the winter 2022 virtual Town Hall

Dominating much of the early part of 2022 was the contract negotiation between MRU and the faculty association, and the potential for class disruptions. The team hosted a virtual town hall to gather student concerns and communicate what we were doing to try and reach a compromise. In the end, SAMRU played an important role in avoiding a strike or lockout.

New Learning Management System

Throughout much of the year, Spirit River and Yasmin participated in committees tasked with updating MRU’s current learning management system Blackboard. In the end, it was decided that Desire2Learn (D2L) would replace it. Students can expect to hear more about this program from us over the summer!

Tuition Increases and Course Fees 

In December, Spirit River and Joseph, who both sit on the MRU Board of Governors, voted against increasing international and domestic tuition and fees for the 2022/2023 school year. Spirit River explained to the Board that raising tuition would negatively affect student mental health as well as the economy by raising the debt levels of Albertans. Although the vote passed and tuition and fees will be increasing next year, a faculty representative on the Board was compelled to vote against increasing tuition.

Municipal and Federal Elections

This past year we had not one, but two elections to contend with: the Federal election in September and then the Calgary municipal election in October. The team ran two separate Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaigns to encourage MRU students to vote in both elections, including hosting a virtual debate during the municipal election. We also advocated successfully for Elections Calgary to set up a “vote anywhere” polling station in Wyckham House during the advance voting period, making it easier for students to vote while on campus.

SAMRU’s Contribution to Provincial and Federal Student Advocacy

This year, Rachel was elected the Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), the voice for undergraduate students at the provincial level, and Spirit River was elected as the Director of Policy for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), the voice for post-secondary students at the federal level. Students from across Alberta and Canada trusted SAMRU’s student executives to lead the student advocacy movement in 2021-2022, and the movement is all the better for it. 

Hiring Senior MRU Administration Staff

This was a big year of turnover and expansion for MRU’s senior administration, and REC had a hand in hiring these future leaders. Yasmin was on the hiring committee for the Associate Vice-President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and is pleased to welcome Dr. Moussa Magassa to MRU. Yasmin’s work is ongoing to hire a new Provost and Vice-President Academic, and Joseph’s work is ongoing to hire a new Vice-President of Finance and Administration.

Tea and Talk with REC

Throughout the year, Joseph and Spirit River hosted a monthly talk show discussing top-of-mind issues for MRU students. The entire year of content can be viewed on YouTube at our channel Spotify SAMRU Buzz. 

Introducing the 2022-2023 REC Team

But first, a heartfelt thank you to Rachel Timmermans and Spirit River Striped Wolf who concluded their terms on April 30th. These two individuals have spent two terms in their respective roles at SAMRU, and their outsized contributions to student advocacy will be long remembered. 

Outgoing 2021-22 REC President, Spirit River Striped Wolf, and incoming 2022-23 REC VP External, Tera Cardinal, at the 2022 REC Elections announcement party.

Beginning May 1st, we would like to extend a big welcome to Pamela Malec and Tera Cardinal, who were elected by MRU students to serve for the 2022-2023 year. We look forward to seeing the great things you accomplish. 

The 2022-2023 REC team is:

  • President Joseph Nguyen
  • Vice-President Academic Yasmin Ahmed
  • Vice-President External Tera Cardinal
  • Vice-President Student Affairs Pamela Malec

SAMRU REC members take on their 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 the student experience at MRU. Keep tabs on this blog for monthly updates on what your REC is working on. 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!