Written by Bhromor Rahman
Edited by Aaron Gao
Last week’s Congress was quite packed, to say the least. As more and more schools look to adapt to online classes long term – with McGill, Concordia, and Dawson having already announced an online Fall semester – the agenda was focused on preparing Marianopolis for this possible new reality next semester.
Trudy discussed the possibility of online orientation for new students with Student Services. This is crucial as new students will need to understand how to use Omnivox and access their class materials. Many ideas were floated for new tools on Omnivox such as videos, tutorials, and virtual ID cards. Laurence, who is a web development expert and the founder of an AI company, also proposed customized schedules with reminders and requiring teachers to post all evaluations on LÉA. Some concerns were raised by Zhaoran about excessive first-week document posting on Omnivox by teachers. She proposed to trickle in the documentation and start before the semester so as to not overwhelm new students. Ultimately, the general idea was to have everything in one place for maximum convenience.
Congress will need to inform new students about its role next year as student services and clubs also adapt to a virtual student life. Ying proposed to make new Mio features available for club executives such as removing the 75-recipient cap, adding a linking tool, and allowing the copying and pasting of student ID numbers. Congress is also currently voting on this year’s small and big club award. Members who are also club executives must abstain from voting for their own club.
Student mental health was also on the menu with discussions about the Jack.org survey and additional future surveys proposed by Michael and Aria. In fact, the administration has tasked Congress to come up with five measures to boost low student morale. Finally, Michael announced the dates for the next General Assembly and they are currently up on the MSU Facebook page as well as the MSU App Calendar.
When it comes to the COAC, Laurence will remain Coordinator of External Affairs until he takes office as President or until his successor is elected in the Fall. In the immediate future, however, the COAC plans to have two semi-permanent chairs to guide newcomers who will most likely be the incumbent External Affairs coordinators of Champlain and Vanier. Two critical issues were brought up by Laurence: the ratification of amendments made to the COAC constitution requires signatures and the representation of anglophone colleges in COAC (not all anglophone colleges are part of COAC). The first issue will have to be addressed by the next Congress, but Michael added that COAC should adopt a simplified amendment procedure from now on. The second issue entails adding more colleges to COAC, but as membership is voluntary and some colleges to not wish to join COAC, renaming the coalition and giving it a more representative name could partly resolve this.
The last item on the agenda and the most important by far concerned all that is directly related to academics and discussions with the administration. First, Ying Ge proposed a massive expansion of the mentorship program to give the maximum number of new students the chance to succeed. This could even mean opening the program to people who are outside of it. Additionally, Ying had three important updates coming straight from the administration:
- An R-score will be calculated for the Summer semester, even if online.
- Exams will not be monitored, but rules from the IPESA still apply and suspected instances of cheating and plagiarism will involve consequences.
- The administration has still not decided whether to conduct the next semester online.
Therefore, Congress’ role to promote academic integrity will be even more crucial from now on. Meanwhile, the administration has still not made a decision about tuition refund. The last discussion was about academic complaints. With R-scores counting, the number of academic complaints pertaining to grades may increase dramatically next semester. The Coordinator of Student Advocacy is part of the process for such complaints which means that Misha’s role will be even more important when she takes office. In the meantime, Michael has been proactive and encouraging students to contact him for academic grievances. Laurence added that nonetheless, in these exceptional circumstances, academic complaint procedures should be adjusted. To that effect, Amanda suggested the use of Google Forms as they are not prone to overflow like Messenger conversations. In the meantime, Ying offered to create an FAQ since a lot of the questions about this subject are often asked repeatedly.
In conclusion, the 31st Congress meeting has brought to light crucial information about Omnivox, clubs and student life as well as academics and administration. There are only 2 Congress meetings left for the current session, but they will be critical as uncertainty looms for all of us in these difficult times…