The executives of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) hosted a Town Hall meeting on Jan. 29 to discuss their priorities for the current semester. Topics included updates about a Fall Reading Week, the selection of a new Deputy Provost Student Life and Learning, and mental health initiatives.
Fall Reading Week talks making headway
After the SSMU fall referendum saw overwhelming support in favour of a Fall Reading Week, SSMU President Tre Mansdoerfer described the Fall Reading Week Committee’s progress.
“Honestly, the conversations [around Fall reading week are going] really well,” Mansdoerfer said. “In April, our committee is going to deliver a final report to the McGill committee saying ‘this is what we think we should do’ [….] We’ll see how the conversations go, but they’re going a lot better than they did four to five years ago, and this is the farthest we’ve ever been in these conversations.”
Mental health advocacy
Vice-President (VP) Student Life Sophia Esterle discussed improving mental health support. In addition to McGill’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week from Feb. 1-7, Esterle’s projects include compiling a list of mental health resources on a single web page to facilitate accessibility.
“It goes further than wait times [for counselling services],” Esterle said. “Having care that is inclusive and trained, and conscious of other voices [is really important]. I’m really trying to make more efforts to [display] all the resources that we have. [Mental health resources exist outside of] McGill, we’re in Montreal, we’re in Quebec, and there are other schools.”
Financial literacy on the agenda
Last term, VP Finance Jun Wang primarily focussed his energy on switching SSMU club bank accounts from ScotiaBank to RBC. In addition to completing the transfer, he hopes to work toward increasing financial literacy among SSMU clubs and the general student population.
“I’m currently working on Google Classrooms […] so when [members of] clubs become signing officers, they can sign up for the classroom and learn about everything,” Wang said. “So there’s actually full transparency with what is expected, what the rules [are], and what you can do with your bank account and finances with SSMU.”
McGill students encouraged to get more involved
VP University Affairs Jacob Shapiro stressed the importance of students staying informed about administrative changes that impact them. He cited the ongoing process for the selection of a new Deputy Provost Student Life and Learning (SLL) as an important example.
“Anything that touches student life and learning, as the name suggests, is impacted by whoever this person is at the top,” Shapiro said. “It’s important to me that students know that [the selection process is] happening, that people are giving feedback to [the Advisory] Committee”
The Deputy Provost directly manages several bodies, including Student Services, the Dean of Students, Housing Services, Athletics, and the Registrar. The Advisory Committee to the Principal for the Selection of a new Deputy Provost, which Shapiro sits on, will make its decision by the end of the academic year.
McGill Digital Calendar release imminent
VP Internal Matthew McLaughlin intends to prioritize the development of a centralized event calendar. He hopes to integrate it with the SSMU listserv submission process so that, whenever an event is submitted, the organizer will be prompted to also make it visible on the calendar.
According to McLaughlin, the success of the project will depend on student involvement.
“If [the calendar is] successful, if people buy into it, then it’ll be a kind of a one-stop shop to go find [out] what’s happening,” McLaughlin said. “That’s gonna take not just the technology, but also people to be engaged and to go and check-in to host their events. If students don’t use it, if clubs don’t put their events in there, then it’s worthless.”