Written by Camille Zhou
Edited by Bhromor Rahman
This week was Congress’ last meeting of the year! However, while 2020 is finally coming to an end, Congress’ plans are only starting! From mental health to academic integrity, quite some important topics were brought to the table this week, not to mention that the meeting featured multiple guests: Jiayi Iris Wang, Catherine Pépin, and Julia Swarcberg from the Jack.org club, and Emma Rodriguez from the Academic Integrity Task Force.
Academic Integrity Campaign
With finals also being online, academic integrity has been a major concern. Yena, Emma, and the rest of Congress discussed what could be done to promote academic integrity among the student body. As of today, Yena has already posted on the MSU Facebook Group all the information concerning the campaign. In short, you can share the pledge video and your own handwritten pledge on your Instagram story to win a 20$, 30$ or even a 50$ gift card. You can also sign a quick Google Form to show your support for academic integrity!
Mental Health Proposal Presented by the Jack.org Club Execs
With finals approaching faster than ever and the concerns that come naturally with online evaluations, the mental health of students is something that Congress deems very important. This week, the Jack.org executives attended the meeting to give some ideas. Catherine started by proposing that counselors organize group sessions rather than just one-on-one calls to cater to more students. She also proposes that Congress aim to arrange the same kind of group sessions. Although Congress is not professionally trained when it comes to mental health issues, group sessions could at least provide support for the students. Julia follows up by bringing up the subject of self-care kits, which had been distributed last year during finals. However, there’s the problem of purchasing and delivering, which Tristan brings up, not to mention that there’s not enough time before finals for Congress to prepare a full-on proposal and get it approved by the administration. Still on the topic of mental health, Trudy mentions some activities that the Student Services have planned to help students de-stress. There’s the virtual visit of Buddy, the lovely therapy dog (which, as of today, already happened). Other possible activities (maybe) to decompress include coloring and a virtual bingo, as well as the sharing of a study playlist by Tristan.
Misha is working on making an Omnivox survey, where students will be able to express their concerns or opinions on the current coming-to-an-end semester. This would help Congress know what could be done better for next semester. While the College already made a similar survey, this one would be more from a student body and Congress point of view.
Student Petitions for Finals
While petitions are a good way to express concerns, Misha mentions that it should not be students’ first resort. She understands however that many students are simply overwhelmed and don’t quite know how to go about their concerns. While you’re reading this, Misha has already posted on the MSU Facebook group a detailed flowchart on how to approach teachers and the administration with student concerns. In very short: contact your teacher → contact the department chair → contact the Dean of Student Success → contact the Academic Dean (following the IPESA guidelines).
Misha also brings up the issue of teachers or department chairs leaving students on read or simply not opening their MIO, which can be especially disheartening for the students, as they are trying to communicate yet are simply ignored. Laurence and Mau agree that they will bring this problem up at their next meeting with the administration.
Trudy talks about the possibility of having a virtual Spidey show (magic mentalism) as a big chill end-of-the-semester activity. Students would even have the chance to be a part of the show! However, considering the costs, it will only be possible if Congress can get other cegeps on board and make this a big intercollegiate activity.
Sexual Violence Prevention Committee and Mental Health Task Force
As part of the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, which is composed of Tristan, Mau, and members from the College staff, Tristan talks about possible trainings on sexual violence prevention. The training would take the form of videos on Omnivox, would be given in the following order to: Congress, mentors, mentees, students, and finally teachers.
On a side note, Trudy also mentions that Student Affairs will revive the Mental Health Task Force.
Say Thank You!
New semester means a new schedule, new classes, new teachers… but it also means saying goodbye to your current teachers. Especially with the online situation, Mau and Pratham would like to encourage students to thank their teachers. Pratham suggests making a template and putting it on the MSU Facebook group, but Mau, Allison and Thomas propose that an appreciation video or message might be better, since a template would basically be the same thing for everyone. Tristan emphasizes how teachers at Marianopolis are really great, and strongly encourages students to find a way to say thanks.
MSU Town Hall?
Congress would like to hold a Town Hall either right after finals or at the beginning of next semester, where students would be able to come and directly speak up about their concerns.
The idea is still in the works right now, and the date has yet to be settled, especially with end-of-the-semester activities coming up…
Congress has been planning an on-campus drive-in for after finals, where students would be able to come on campus by car and pick up gifts, club merch, etc. For now, the activity proposal still has to get approved by the Administration.