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 three levels of government.
The 2021/2022 executive team is:
- REC President Spirit River Striped Wolf
- REC Vice-President Student Affairs Joseph Nguyen
- REC Vice-President External Rachel Timmermans
- REC Vice-President Academic Yasmin Ahmed
In this post, we want to let you know about our work in February 2022.
Sexual Violence Prevention Advocacy
On February 15th, Rachel participated in a press conference at SAIT with the Alberta Minister of Advanced Education. Demetrios Nicolaides announced funding and policy direction to tackle the issue of sexual violence on Alberta’s post-secondary campuses. The announced changes came directly from advocacy work SAMRU has done since 2018. See the government’s release here and watch Rachel in action here.
On the internal side, Joseph Nguyen asked MRU’s Executive Director of Student Affairs, Chris Rogerson, to update students on what senior administration has done with SAMRU’s 2021 report on Dating, Domestic, and Sexual Violence recommendations on campus. In response, Chris said that a Sexual Violence working group/task force is currently in the works. SAMRU will ensure that students have a voice on this task force.
“I have seen time and time again, many students don’t know how to report [sexual assault], if it’s worth reporting, and some fear retaliation… it’s difficult to understand how to get proper protection and support,” Timmermans said.Alberta government invests $2.5M to address on-campus sexual violence, Jill Croteau, Global News
Alberta Provincial Budget
During the last week of February, Rachel and Spirit River were in Edmonton to respond directly to the Alberta 2022 budget and specifically how it relates to post-secondary education. Feel free to visit this press release to read about their reaction.
MRU Academic Advising
Joseph participated on a selection committee to hire a new Manager of Academic Advising. He expressed to the committee the importance of hiring a student-oriented candidate who exhibits an inclusive academic advising approach.
Spirit River and Rachel participated in the Canadian Alliance of Students’ Association (CASA)’s advocacy week. They virtually presented CASA’s recommendations to a dozen federal government members of parliament, Ministers, and Senators.
In a one-on-one meeting with MRU President Tim Rahilly, Spirit River asked Tim for masking to remain mandatory for the rest of the term, as a result of recent MRU student polling. Tim responded that MRU would continue to require masking until the end of the winter semester (April 2022).
The potential for a faculty strike kept us so busy in February that this topic deserves a page of its own. From this situation, one major piece of REC advocacy going forward will be to push the MRU Faculty Association to create a communication and contingency plan so the university can quickly and impartially keep students updated on what is happening during any potential future strike or lockout situation. REC would like to see a plan in place for continued blackboard access, refunds, and timelines so students can feel knowledgeable heading into any potential class disruption.
At a meeting of mental health professionals from the Calgary area, Joseph advocated that preparing students for university should not just be a grade 12 initiative. Students in junior high and high school should know what to expect from universities and have an idea of all the different services that universities offer.
Rachel and Spirit River met with Courtney Walcott, the Calgary City Councillor for MRU’s ward (Ward 8). They discussed ways to improve transit to MRU and ways of influencing the development of lands around campus to enhance the student experience.
Rachel Timmermans (VP External), Spirit River Striped Wolf (SAMR REC President)
Joseph met with MRU’s new Manager of Security Services to discuss their vision for how Security can better meet student needs and expectations. Joseph focused on how Security Services could build trust with the MRU student body.
As a follow-up to last month’s blog regarding the Athletic Therapy program’s current processes leading to possible exploitation of students during practicums: Spirit River advocated that students be given more guidance while creating their practicum contracts. Advocacy on this topic continues.
Joseph has been meeting with Career Services to offer a student perspective on better serving student needs. For example, Joseph has suggested that Career Services could increase their focus on reaching out to first-year students to give new students a greater chance to incorporate work-integrated learning into their programs and consider putting resources into revamping their current website and social media practices.
A working group of students and staff at MRU is currently testing all options available for updating MRU’s current learning management system (LMS) Blackboard. The LMS Steering Committee, which Spirit River is a part of, will soon make recommendations to MRU’s administration team.
At a recent LMS working group meeting, Yasmin recommended that MRU create positions for students to become leaders specialized in the new LMS system to aid their fellow students in the transition to the new system. It remains unknown if MRU will move forward with this recommendation.
Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS)
As SAMRU’s primary delegate at CAUS, Spirit River participated in a week-long conference to transform the organization to better serve and represent student issues at the provincial level. A final report and path forward will be provided to Spirit River and the rest of the Board in the coming weeks.
Stay in the know!
Joseph and Spirit River have been hosting a monthly talk show called Tea with REC, where they discuss what REC has been up to, often with special guests. Tea with REC is now available in podcast form on Youtube and Spotify! Make sure to tune in for updates on the issues mentioned above and more (like special guests). Episode 2 featuring MRU’s Chris Rogerson is live now!
Wow, that’s a lot of progress for the shortest month of the year! And these are just the highlights. 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 from your REC for updates on what they’re working on. You can also visit this link to learn more about the four REC members this year and how to become an elected student representative yourself!