Hello MRU students,
We hope you had a memorable and safe first month at MRU! While you were getting settled into your classes, your Representation Executive Council (REC) has been hard at work, advocating for changes and improvements in and around campus that matter most to you, our members!
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 (SBG) to represent student issues to MRU and all levels of government.
This year’s REC team is (from left to right):
- Vice-President Academic Tala Abu Hayyaneh (she/her)
- President Joseph Nguyen (he/him)
- Vice-President External Prabhjit Grewal (they/them)
- Vice-President Student Affairs Anisa Tilston (she/they)
Keep reading to hear what your team has been up to during the month of September!
Welcome / Welcome Back Activities
REC hosted a booth in the Wyckham House Student Centre during New Student Orientation to engage with new students by asking them to describe what they were most nervous and/or excited about as they began their MRU journey. They received a lot of engagement and had some great conversations with students.
REC VP Academic Tala and VP Student Affairs Anisa spent the afternoon at the Campus Carnival engaging with students by asking them to indicate the student issues that they most care about this year. The top responses were tuition and fees, textbook affordability, municipal and transportation advocacy (especially parking), mental health and well-being, and housing.
REC was also present and engaged with students at Residence Move-In Day, the Calgary Pride Parade, and the New Student Orientation welcome ceremony in the Triple Gym.
Housing Advocacy at City Hall
On September 14th, REC President Joseph and VP External Prabhjit attended Calgary City Council’s public hearing on affordable housing and spoke about the importance of approving a list of recommendations to begin addressing the problem. Stories from MRU students currently experiencing housing precarity were integrated into these speeches and made a big impact. Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories!
Prabhjit and Joseph, along with hundreds of other Calgarians, also participated in a rally in front of City Hall in support of these recommendations. Council ultimately approved these recommendations, including a $25 million dollar investment from the City to student housing! REC will continue to monitor the municipal government’s implementation of these recommendations.
Advocacy for Parking Solutions
Students have noted how difficult it is to find parking on campus and that improving the availability of parking is important to them. We brought this concern to MRU, who told us that they gave out over 1,200 parking tickets during the first week of September. When someone doesn’t pay for parking, it takes away a space for a student in need of parking who is willing to pay.
In response to this information, Joseph advocated for MRU to consider building a tow lot right on campus to remove vehicles that are parked without having paid, thus freeing up parking spaces for students who are paying for parking.
Consent Awareness Week
National Consent Awareness Week on Canada’s post-secondary campuses occurs yearly during the third week of September, which is commonly referred to as the ‘red zone’, a time when gender-based violence on post-secondary campuses tends to be at its highest.
To bring awareness to the meaning of consent, Prabhjit and Anisa hosted an information booth in West Gate Social over two days. Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA) was also on hand to provide information and resources.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)
At a meeting with MRU faculty, Joseph asked that MRU’s mandatory EDI training for faculty is taken seriously and translates to safe spaces for students.
Joseph talked with an MRU faculty member who is developing an EDI survey for the campus community and requested content warnings for student safety. He also asked that some form of compensation is offered to students who choose to share sensitive EDI-related stories/information.
Tala advocated for MRU to consider creating an additional prayer room on campus.
At an MRU meeting to discuss improving and expanding EDI initiatives on campus, Anisa supported the creation of educational tools on D2L to teach about EDI, something that could help prevent student non-academic misconduct violations.
BIPOC Student Art Festival
The BIPOC Student Art Festival is an initiative of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), a provincial student advocacy group that SAMRU is a member of. Prabhjit is serving as this year’s Vice-Chair of CAUS and the lead for this project, which has the goal of highlighting artwork from students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Colour (BIPOC).
The deadline to submit your work has been changed to October 15, so if you plan on joining, you still have time to submit your pieces! Artwork will be displayed throughout the month of November in Wyckham House.
Academic Representation and Textbook Affordability
At a meeting to plan the upcoming Academic Integrity Week event, Tala asked for Halal and vegetarian candy options at the activity tables, and suggested that relevant SAMRU clubs be invited to help organize student-related activities.
Tala was hard at work through the month of September hiring student volunteers to fill spots on MRU’s General Faculty Council (GFC) and its subcommittees. GFC is the top decision-making body at MRU for academic-related activities.
Tala and the GFC student ambassadors voted in favour of MRU’s next Academic Plan, which was subsequently approved. The plan will have positive impacts on students in relation to textbook affordability and work-integrated learning opportunities.
Tala advocated for MRU to adopt the movement of zero textbook cost (ZTC) on campus and improve communication on whether a course needs a textbook or not. She will be focusing on textbook affordability more as the year progresses.
Student Perceptions of Teaching (SPoTs)
Tala met with MRU’s key staff person for SPoTs to discuss potential revisions and improvements. She learned that student participation in SPoTs has gone down from 70% to 40% in recent years, reducing the legitimacy of the tool. Tala plans on gathering more data about student perceptions and possible barriers to using SPoTs in order to inform her advocacy efforts.
Withdrawal Deadline Change
Tala is advocating for the withdrawal deadline to be permanently changed to the last day of the semester. MRU is committed to working meaningfully with the SAMRU student representatives this year to achieve this.
Tuition and Fees Advocacy
Tala asked MRU to remove the processing fee for enrollment confirmation and transcripts on MyCreds.
Student representatives attended the first of three meetings with MRU to learn about and provide feedback on their plans for tuition and fee rates for the 2024-2025 school year. This first meeting was largely introductory.
Tala attended a networking event where she connected with a number of people from non-profit organizations, municipal and provincial governments, and German delegates from various post-secondary institutions.
Your REC team also met with the Minister of Advanced Education and her staff when she visited MRU in September. They advocated for action on gender-based violence prevention, building more student housing, keeping public research publicly available, and incorporating AI into education as a learning tool.
Choosing MRU’s Next Chancellor
Joseph and Anisa are student representatives on the committee that will choose MRU’s next Chancellor — a volunteer role that represents MRU to the external community. When asked what students would like to see from the new Chancellor, Anisa suggested higher engagement with the student population by attending popular campus events.
If the Chancellor can successfully connect student life and achievements to the greater community, students could benefit from higher philanthropic donations to MRU and potentially more opportunities with community organizations.
Journey to Indigenization
September 30th is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. MRU planned a large suite of events for the week before and after this date to recognize the importance of this day. REC members attended as many events as their schedules would allow.
Anisa will be working out of the Iniskim Centre around the lunch hour on Mondays for the semester. Feel free to stop by and chat with her about anything and everything related to your student experience at MRU.
Thanks for reading!
We, your REC members, are employed in our respective roles full-time over a full year, which means every day is full of advocacy and representation happening behind the scenes, dedicated to improving your student experience at MRU. You can visit this link to learn more about your student representatives this year, view updated position descriptions of each member of REC, view their position statements and advocacy priorities, and even learn how YOU could potentially become an elected student representative!
Keep your eyes open for updates, statements, and more on these and other upcoming initiatives on social media by following @samrurec on X (formerly Twitter). If you have questions, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.