Your 2017–18 SMCSU at the close of the winter semester
Aaron Panciera NEWS EDITOR
Following a tumultuous 2016–17 academic year, the St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) looks to re-establish itself as a functioning governing body that University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) students can rely on. Here at The Mike, we remain committed to updating students on the current state of SMCSU, and holding the union accountable to the promises it made to students.
With fall semester’s exam season ahead, much about the reimagined SMCSU is still to be determined.
One of the main questions surrounding SMCSU following the election in October was how the council planned to fill its three vacant executive positions: Vice-President Athletics, Vice-President Finance, and Vice-President Religious and Community Affairs (RCA).
According to SMCSU President Samantha Douek, it is only a matter of time before these vacant positions are filled.
“After considerable discussion, we concluded that it is unreasonable to expect students to take part in an election with midterms underway and the December exam period approaching, so we decided to hold the elections in January following the break,” Douek told The Mike. “We are currently in the process of planning, and working out the specifics of, the upcoming election, and, as soon as we do so, we will make an announcement to relay the information to all students.”
New Social Media Accounts
Earlier this month, SMCSU created new official Facebook and Instagram accounts, and the Facebook page and Instagram account will serve slightly different purposes according to Kate Strazds, Vice-President of SMCSU.
“Our Instagram, @usmcsu will frequently post on upcoming SMCSU events and student involvement on the St. Mike’s campus; and, our Facebook page will serve as SMCSU’s main means of communication,” Strazds wrote in a statement to The Mike. “As a council, we unanimously agreed that SMCSU needed a fresh start in terms of its social media [presence].”
Along with the completed social media updates, SMCSU plans to redevelop the current website, smcsu.com, to better service and keep up-to-date the current USMC community. Many complaints have been lodged about the current SMCSU website, as it does not fit the current “re-imagined” council.
“The ‘Re-Imagining Student Government’ report drastically changed the structure of the Council, as well as its roles and responsibilities,” Douek said. “This restructuring provided the impetus for our plan to redevelop the existing SMCSU website.”
However, there are still a number of positions that need to be filled before this project can begin, including the paid positions of webmaster and (four) photographers. Applications for these positions will close on December 12 at midnight. SMCSU’s goal is to have the
redesigned website up by January 2018.
“We want the website to be a source of information for USMC students, not only on issues related to the Council’s inner-workings and affairs, such as the Council’s budget, agenda, and minutes, etc., but also on issues that are relevant to individual students,” Douek told The Mike.
Relationship with Administration
One of the key questions coming after the findings of the Reimagining Committee concerns SMCSU’s autonomy, going forward, from the current administration. There have been fears that USMC President David Mulroney and his administration would essentially take control of SMCSU through various reforms intended to increase accountability.
According to Douek, this has not been a problem for the current SMCSU thus far. She claims that, “Because all of our conversations and dealings are founded in mutual respect, SMCSU and the current administration are able to maintain a good relationship.”
According to Douek and SMCSU, the administration has helped, not hindered their performance. She mentions Oriana Bertucci, Director of Student Life at USMC, and Mulroney as two key, helpful figures as the new executives attempt to reinvent SMCSU.
Douek says that Bertucci has offered “both insight and assistance as needed,” with Mulroney providing “invaluable advice with respect to leadership and government.”
Future Plans and Policy Initiatives
While overcoming past SMCSU deficiencies is a vital part of the current SMCSU’s job, SMCSU councillors and executives are still coming up with policies and events for the current academic year. These include, but are not limited to, co-chairing Winterfest 2018 with Innis College and University College, introducing an equity commission, and planning the Annual General
Meeting (AGM) for January.
According to Strazds, the AGM will be an important opportunity for USMC students to connect with SMCSU. “The AGM is going to be students’ first major opportunity to learn about SMCSU, give input on events, share their expectations for SMCSU, and decide what policy initiatives (at USMC and U of T) we want to pursue as a student body,” Strazds told The Mike.
SMCSU also plans to introduce “an equity commission,” which will be “part of other student societies on campus,” Strazds said.
Along with these events and policies, The Academic Affairs Commission is currently planning on setting up study nights before and during exams. Ideally, upper-years from each program will attend these to “answer questions and/or provide program-specific exam exam tips,” said Strazds.