Letter from the  President & CEO: January Update

With the start of the new semester, there is quite a bit I would like to share with you but first, happy New Year! It is amazing how quickly the weeks go by and before you know it, you will be starting another chapter. In this release, I will let you know the following:

  • The three (3) more platform points we have completed
  • What we are doing to address the provincial announcement regarding OSAP and Student Union fees
  • Who your new SU President is
  • What positions we are currently open for hiring

The Programming and Services departments on both campuses have worked together on a multi-campus training program to ensure a successful transition for our volunteers into their respective roles. During the summer term, coordinators on both campus attended joint Coordinator Conferences, where they learned about risk management, budgeting and ACCPAC statements as well as marketing techniques. Furthermore, coordinators on both campuses were able to speak with their counterparts to discuss the similarities and differences between their committees on the different campuses. Additionally, both Orientation Teams (OPF and the O-Team Executives) had a character and theme pitch meeting in Brantford’s Students’ Union Board Room to decide the slogan and characters for O-Week that would empower the first years. Regarding O-Week Training, both Vice Presidents of Programming and Services, Nikki Corless (Waterloo) and Natalie Rigato (Brantford), and their Orientation Programming Facilitators, discussed possible volunteer training ideas for Icebreaker Volunteers to ensure the same caliber of information was disseminated to both groups. Sessions from the Center for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and motivational speakers created enthusiasm and further prepared them for Orientation Week 2018. For this term, the coordinators and executives on both campuses will be attending a SafeTalk Training as well as training session about transferrable skills that are obtained through these volunteer roles.

The University Affairs department, led by Vice-President Shannon Kelly, held their first Town Hall of the 2018/19 term on November 26th 2018. The Town Hall was utilized to discuss external advocacy efforts made by the University Affairs department to elected representatives at all levels of government. Some major efforts highlighted in the Town Hall included municipal and provincial election promotion and outreach, advocacy for open access textbooks, community safety on the Brantford campus, as well as advocacy and representation surrounding unsanctioned public gatherings in Waterloo. If you missed it and would love to watch, the live stream is available on the University Affairs Facebook page!

The Clubs & Associations department has been exploring the possibility of integrating Greek Life with the Students’ Union. Greek Life chapters are well known for the philanthropic work they do within their respective communities. They support causes such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

The Students’ Union’s mission and vision is centered on providing the best experience to our members while ensuring that they are empowered to achieve. This includes supporting these members throughout their philanthropic endeavours.

After careful research and consideration it was determined that it is not possible for the Students’ Union to directly integrate Greek Life. We will continue to foster and build relationships with these chapters here at Wilfrid Laurier University in order to ensure that they are supported to the best of our ability. For example, the Students’ Union is currently finalizing efforts in collaboration with the Career Center and Greek Life in order to gain Laurier Experience Record (LER) recognition for Greek Life members.

The provincial government recently made an announcement regarding a new tuition framework for Ontario universities, including lowering tuition rates by 10 per cent, significant changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), and revised compulsory ancillary fee guidelines. We, the Students’ Union, have issued a statement addressing the issue. Admittedly, we are cautious of the grave implications of these abrupt changes. As a boat adjusts its sails to the wind to reach its destination, so will we. We have had numerous conversations with the university, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), provincial advocacy groups, sitting Members of Provincial Parliament, and news mediums.  We are hopeful that our efforts will give birth to an environment in which we and other unions like us can continue to service the student experience. Currently, we wait with bated breath for further details from the government.

Finally, the Students’ Union elections concluded last week with the highest ever voter turnout we have had in the last three years, 23.61%! Commendations to Chair & CGO, Adam Kovacs, CRO Troy Freiburger and DRO Ali Ibrahim for this outstanding achievement. With three (3) months left on my term, I am happy to introduce your Students’ Union President-Elect, winning on the third ballot with 54.29% of the vote, the ‘Dream’, Zemar Hakim! Zemar will take office on May 1, 2019. A big congratulation to all the newly elected Board of Directors, Senators, Faculty Association Presidents, and Board of Governors. If you are interested in the statistics from this election season, check out the official results!

If you are interested in working for the Students’ Union, Associate Vice President Applications are open until Feb 4, 2019 at noon! All are welcome to apply!

Have a lovely day!

Tarique Plummer
Students’ Union President & CEO