In this update:
- Possible faculty strike
- Tuition increases and course fees
- New Student Orientation (NSO)
- Experiential Learning
- Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Blackboard updates/ new Learning Management System
Hello MRU students,
We are your 2021-22 Representation Executive Council (REC). The 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 2021-22 executive team is:
- President Spirit River Striped Wolf
- Vice-President Student Affairs Joseph Nguyen
- Vice-President External Rachel Timmermans
- Vice-President Academic Yasmin Ahmed
We’re hard at work advocating for you. Continue reading below to learn how!
Possible faculty strike
Will the MRU faculty go on strike? It’s possible, but they’re not at that stage yet. As we mentioned in a recent email, there are still further steps in the negotiation process. Your SAMRU REC team has been in communication with both sides, urging them to come to an agreement for the sake of students and reminding them that it’s been a tough slog for us academically and mentally since March 2020.
But that’s not all. We believe that deep funding cuts by the government led to this situation. Reduced funding just decreases access and causes internal disagreements between faculty, staff, administration, and students, and higher tuition increases student debt loads. This doesn’t bode well for current or future students or for Alberta, which is why we’re calling on the Alberta government to restore funding to appropriate levels and for the MRU Board of Governors to revoke the tuition increases so Albertans can continue to easily access and benefit from a high-quality system of higher learning.
We’ve planned a live virtual town hall on February 10, 2022, from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm to hear from students about your concerns.
Tuition increases and course fees
In December, SAMRU REC President Spirit River and VP Student Affairs 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 both student and faculty representatives on the Board voted against increasing tuition, the vote passed and tuition and fees will be increasing next year.
MRU continues to provide $1 million in bursaries to help low-income students — an initiative proposed by your REC team a couple of years ago. In addition, SAMRU REC VP Academic Yasmin has been meeting with departmental Chairs as well as the University Registrar to advance her goal of adding visibility to course fees in the course registration tool on MyMRU. No firm commitments have been made yet but advocacy continues.
The REC team has been working hard to understand students’ concerns relating to the developing situation with course delivery this Winter semester, and they continue to communicate those concerns and possible solutions to MRU. One big win was having MRU agree to reintroduce the COVID Pass/Fail option for the Winter 2022 semester.
SAMRU REC VP External Rachel, in her role as this year’s Chair of our provincial advocacy group CAUS, met with the Chief of Staff to the Alberta Minister of Advanced Education to, among other things, advocate that post-secondary students should have free access to masks and rapid tests on campus.
Rachel, in her role as this year’s Vice-Chair for our municipal advocacy group the Calgary Student Alliance (CSA), met with mayor Jyoti Gondek as well as new councillor for Ward 7, Terry Wong, to discuss the need to have Students’ Associations at the negotiating table for U-Pass contracts. No firm commitments have been made yet but we will continue to push.
Rachel, in her role as this year’s Chair of our provincial advocacy group CAUS, met with MITACS (a nonprofit national research organization) to learn more about recent changes to their internship funding program. These exciting changes include more funding to help employers hire students for a work-integrated learning opportunity.
Spirit River met with students from the Faculty of Health, Community and Education who flagged the faculty’s processes around possible exploitation of students in experiential learning courses. Spirit River brought this concern to Dean Stephen Price who has taken the issue seriously and is exploring it.
New Student Orientation
Joseph has been talking with folks involved in putting on New Student Orientation (NSO) to make sure that it is the best that it can be for students. More details to come as talks continue.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Spirit River, in his role as the Director of Policy with our federal advocacy group CASA, finalized a project that will ensure that all of CASA’s advocacy is done through the lens of Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+). This change will ensure that we are advocating in a way that fully encompasses the needs of women, gender-diverse people, men, and their intersectional identities.
Yasmin has just finalized her work on MRU’s hiring committee for the new Associate Vice-President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Her work on choosing the future leader for EDI at MRU will shape the university for years to come. The successful candidate will be announced by MRU soon.
Spirit River met with MRU’s Associate-Vice-President of Indigenization and Decolonization Dr. Linda Many Guns to discuss SAMRU’s support on the Traditional Thinkers Circle project, a project meant to help bring in more Indigenous elders and traditional knowledge holders to the campus community.
Joseph advocated met with MRU’s Executive Director of Student Affairs, Chris Rogerson, to advocate for students who have or are undergoing, name changes and need to have a simple, clear way for MRU’s system to register their new name.
Blackboard updates or new Learning Management System (LMS)
Spirit River and a student volunteer continue to be involved in the MRU Steering Committee to replace and/or update the current learning management system (Blackboard).
Stay in the know!
Joseph and Spirit River have been hosting a monthly talk show called Tea and Talk with REC where they discuss what REC has been up to, often with special guests. Tea and Talk with REC is now available in podcast form on YouTube and Spotify! Make sure to tune in monthly for updates on the issues mentioned above.
These are just the highlights over a few short weeks before and after the December break. REC members take on their respective roles as full-time jobs over twelve months, which means that every day is full of work happening behind the scenes dedicated to improving the student experience at MRU.
Keep tabs on this blog for monthly updates from your REC for updates on what we’re 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!
Thank you for your time. If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to get back to you in a timely way.