Representatives from groups, associations, and organizations across the McGill community presented their initiatives to the 2019 McGill Board of Governors (BoG) Board-Student Forum on Feb. 28. Moderated by BoG Senate Representative Edith Zorychta, the event included information sessions led by members of Divest McGill, the First Peoples’ House, the Black Students’ Network, various subsets of the BoG, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), and the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS).
McGill Frosh approval ratings on the rise
Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) Vice-President (VP) Internal Affairs and Head Frosh Coordinator Laurent Chenet spoke on behalf of Frosh activities, highlighting their changing character at McGill. He cited the increasing percentage of students who rated their Frosh experience as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ in annual Frosh exit surveys as evidence of an improved culture.
“[Every year], we put out a survey after frosh to [ask] ‘how did we do?’” Chenet said. “In 2011-2012, we were around 26 per cent. People were not having a good time because Frosh then was a very alcohol-centric event [….] We have undergone a massive culture change since then [….] We’re now at 76 per cent [approval].”
According to Chenet, the rapid improvement in feedback is a result of coordinators working to improve the safety and inclusivity of Frosh-related events.
“In 2012, [the culture] was dismal, […and] there were some pretty awful things being done at Frosh because it was just the fun party time,” Chenet said. “In our training for leaders, staff, [and] coordinators, we’ve taken into account that there are those sensitive topics [like sexual assault], and equity is now at the forefront of every event [….] Again, [Frosh is] not perfect, and I don’t know if it will be in the next few years, but it is improving drastically.”
CAMSR to present divestment report in December
Cynthia Price Verreault, chair of the BoG Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR), discussed the committee’s ongoing research into divestment from fossil fuels following the McGill Senate’s endorsement of the idea in September. The final report, scheduled for a presentation to the BoG in Dec. 2019, will include consultations from a variety of stakeholders.
“We have heard from representatives of Senate, representatives of the investment committee, the office of investments, representatives of student associations, members of the Board who requested to speak to us, representatives of Divest McGill, and experts from external organizations,” Price Verreault said.
According to Price Verreault, CAMSR has made substantial changes to its procedures in the process of its investigation. In particular, the committee has implemented online feedback forms and published the names of individuals consulted in the present investigation. These modifications come after allegations that CAMSR’s previous reports on divestment were not transparent.
“When I joined this committee, it […] had two meetings a year, and we’ve far surpassed that,” Price Verreault said. “We’ve already set dates for further consultations and meetings in order to address [divestment] with the seriousness it deserves [….] One of the things that was brought to our attention was the transparency and communications of the efforts being made by the committee, [and] we’re working [on] that.”
OAP seeks to improve sustainability track record
McGill Open Air Pub (OAP) Head Managers Malcolm McClintlock and Lynn Hein delivered a presentation on the history and future of the event. According to McClintlock and Hein, the organization’s priorities going forward include making the event more sustainable and inclusive while also expanding its scope.
“Because of the size of OAP, we have a huge impact in a number of ways,” McClintlock said. “Most notably, [in terms of] sustainability, we can improve in many, many ways. We are looking to partner up with the Sustainability and Planning Office because when you’re selling thousands of drinks and burgers, you really should try to focus on the [margins of improvement]. We’re also starting to work with the McGill Alumni Association. Most notably, they’ve been using our name for about four years now across different cities and areas to [attract] alumni.”