That 70s Frosh dominated a large portion of the second meeting of the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council, with an extensive report on the improvements and changes implemented this year. Council also discussed the McGill Draft Policy Against Sexual Violence and the AUS Student Employment Fund.
Arts Frosh sold out for only the second time in its history this year. This prompted Kat Svikhnushin, AUS vice-president (VP) Social Affairs, to request a change in admission policy for Frosh.
“Froshes do not historically sell out […],” Svikhnushin said. “My recommendations for next year would be to increase the cap, as we really did have to turn away a lot of students […] and to look at who we consider to be a first year and consider to be eligible for Frosh. We had to turn away people whose actual first time [was] at university at McGill.”
According to Svikhnushin, Frosh also tried to move away from the stigma of being a week of drinking as opposed to an Orientation Week that includes alcohol. Changes included hosting Carnival as a primarily non-drinking event, as well as providing lots of water throughout each event. Food was also provided at Beach Day and other day events.
Another strategic change to this year’s Frosh was the renaming of the “Pub Crawl” event as 'Montreal Crawl.” AUS Equity Commissioner Leah Damo explained that this was done because the intended focus of Frosh is not drinking.
“[The name] ‘Montreal Crawl’ took the focus away from drinking […] and there was also definitely water available for Froshies that didn’t want to drink,” Damo said. “It would be really great if there were […] themes for food stops just to normalize eating as well as drinking. Drinking isn’t really what Frosh is about, it’s more about having fun.”
Svikhnushin also emphasized that Frosh coordinators worked with students and Frosh leaders on consent and sexual harassment education. All students attending Frosh were required to watch a compulsory video that explained sexual harassment and sexual violence, as well as how to identify them. The mandatory video used the analogy of dancing to explain these situations in a more relatable manner. However, some AUS Councillors demonstrated concern that the analogy trivialized sexual harassment.
“I’ll definitely take the time to check it out. [The Equity Committee] will try to work with the people responsible for the video,” Damo said.
Draft of the Sexual Assault Policy
Igor Sadikov, Faculty of Arts Representative to SSMU, updated AUS Council on SSMU’s reaction to the Draft Sexual Assault Policy that was released by McGill on Sept 12. According to Sadikov, SSMU is hoping to use focus groups organized by the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) to ensure student input is considered in revising the draft.
“[PGSS] will be organizing focus groups where anyone is encouraged to attend, but in particular survivors of sexual violence or people who have experience with disclosures at McGill,” Sadikov said.
AUS Student Employment Fund
AUS VP Academic Erik Partridge presented a report on the AUS Student Employment Fund to Council. He explained that part of the fund is given to new professors to use for research and the employment of students through the Work Study Program.
“Generally, what we do is allocate […] about $5,000 per professor […] which they can use to hire casual [research assistants] the first three years of their time here at McGill and the rest of it goes to […] a fund to create some positions across campus,” Partridge said.
However, the fund has been under utilized and is therefore losing money. AUS is currently investigating strategies for regaining the lost funding.
“Now, the problem is that over the last few years, professors have not been using this fund,” Partridge said. “The Faculty of Arts has lost about $80,000 [….] We are looking into recovering a significant portion of that.”