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Arts OASIS advising consultation sessions marked by low attendance

Last week, the Arts Office of Advising and Student Information Services (Arts OASIS) held a series of consultation sessions regarding upcoming changes to advising in the Faculty of Arts. Sessions were held for students in separate years, as well as specific student groups, such as international students. However, consultation sessions failed to achieve a high student turnout.

The purpose of the consultation sessions was to receive student input on potential  changes  to the advising system and to deal with common and recurring problems that students face every semester. The AUS emphasized that these sessions were unrelated to last month’s announcement regarding the faculty’s plan to spend more on advising and less on classes in the 2013-2014 academic year.

“The purpose of these consultation sessions is to … figure out how students want to experience advising and to ensure that students actually know where they’re going,” AUS President Devon LaBuik said. “If that information isn’t available at this point, [we want] to make it available [and] ensure that it’s actually clear to students.”

According to AUS Vice-President Internal Justin Fletcher,  changes to advising are part of a bigger plan to reorganize the way services are offered by the university, and to increase their efficiency with fewer employees, as outlined in McGill’s Workforce Planning Initiative. The initiative was introduced last May after the provincial government mandated that universities reduce their administrative and support staff by hiring fewer staff members when employees voluntarily leave their positions.

However, the consultation sessions had low attendance from students. Only one student attended the first two sessions of the week. Another session only had two students attend.

Peter Ashlock, U3 anthropology and the only student who attended Tuesday’s session, raised specific issues he had with the Faculty of Arts’ advising system regarding his exchange to Keio University in Japan last year.

“McGill was unaware [of] when [the] Japanese university terms started and ended, and would ask me to turn in paperwork on a timeline that was completely impossible … which led to some difficulties registering for courses while in my final year [at McGill],” Ashlock said. “I’m sure that they’ll work on figuring out the … schedule mismatch issue …. It’s an obvious problem that’s easy to fix with no cost.”

Ashlock also shared his thoughts on why so few students attended, commenting on the ineffectiveness of merely sending out notifications by email.

“[The] McGill administration has a reputation for not caring about students at all,” he said. “That’s not really true: there are administrators at McGill who care, and ones that don’t. But I think most people either don’t read the emails regarding these sorts of events, or if they do, they feel like it would be futile to attend, since ‘everybody knows’ that McGill doesn’t value undergraduates.”

The AUS executive confirmed that they were aware of the lack of attendance throughout the week, and plan to deal with the issue for future events and consultation sessions. Possible improvements include sending out emails earlier to give students more than a day’s notice before the event.

“I think that maybe there wasn’t enough notice about the sessions, and it’s always a busy time [of year], Fletcher said. “We re-evaluated the strategy that we use to contact the students, so I think that there will be better turnout for the later sessions.”

Consultation sessions will continue until Feb. 14 for international, U0, first year U1, and interdisciplinary students.

One Comment

  1. Hi, OASIS held the advising sessions, not AUS. Please revise this article.

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