Written by Si Wen Shen
Edited by Ze Yuan Fu
As Director-General Christian Corno was expected at last week’s meeting, Congress took this unique opportunity to exchange important questions on a wide range of topics, from College updates to student questions and concerns.
Winter & Fall 2021
Mr. Corno would like to assure us, regardless of the government’s plans concerning the pandemic, the Winter semester will most probably remain online until the very end, though there may be finals on campus for certain courses. Contrary to many other schools, the online semester has actually had an extremely positive impact on the performance of Marianopolis’ students; the student success rate in terms of passing courses is reaching an all-time high. The administration sees “no reason to change the model, as it is working”, apart from a few possible minor adjustments.
Plans for Fall 2021 have yet to be determined, but it will certainly not be a hybrid model; it will either be fully online or fully on campus. The decision is expected to be announced at the latest by the end of March. Some remarked that McGill has already announced an on campus Fall semester.
In any case, the courses that will hold their finals on campus this semester should also be announced by the end of the month as well.
Plans for the summer semester have yet to be set in stone. Some courses may be online, while others move on campus. Rest assured that the mode of delivery of each course will be specified before registration to allow for a transparent choice of courses.
Currently, only academic activities, such as study groups and group projects, can be held on campus. Social activities are still not allowed by government regulations, neither are they for the rest of society for that matter. MSU activities may become available, but will have to be restricted to maximum 6 people.
As the Ministry is currently reviewing the College’s programs, our administration would like to take the opportunity to reevaluate our academic programs to assure that our students will be as well-prepared for university as possible. The College will dedicate the next 5 years to creating the best academic programs they can offer.
The College also wishes to increase the support and number of activities with MSU and clubs in order to encourage student development outside of academics, as community engagement is also a crucial part of student life at Marianopolis. The administration also recognizes the importance of mental health and intends to provide further support for MSU’s initiatives at promoting mental health and awareness.
In light of the current renovations on the campus building, there are plans to redesign the space on campus to provide better student space indoors and outdoors. For instance, the beautiful gardens and outdoor space are not being fully utilized.
Members of Congress also relayed a shared vision among students to further support inclusion, diversity and to facilitate the implementation of current social justice action points. As such, the next few years will be dedicated to further improve students’ study experience at Marianopolis.
After a survey among the student body, it has been determined that adding the Communities feature to Omnivox would be highly beneficial to all students and clubs, as it would reduce the excessive notification spamming. All students would have access to club announcements and events, instead of having to look across a multitude of social media platforms. This feature can also act as a time management tool.
However, as Mr. Corno points out, Omnivox is the College’s official platform, therefore posts made on Omnivox will need to be regulated to a certain degree by the College administration. However, students have the freedom to post anything they wish on their own social media platforms. Therefore, the Communities feature on Omnivox will entail a certain lack of control from MSU. Negotiations between MSU and the administration will be needed in order to proceed further.
Mr. Corno states that if this feature is truly beneficial for the students, the price of its installment is of little concern. However, the earliest possible launch of this feature would be in Fall 2021, and no official decision has yet been reached concerning Communities.
Does the College invest in fossil fuels? This question was raised by environmentalists within the College. Mr. Corno firmly states that as an academic institution, Marianopolis College does not own investments or stocks of any private corporations. Unlike universities, the College does not have an actual investment portfolio, nor does it directly invest in any energy companies.
Inclusivity & Diversity
Congress has proposed to the administration to include on the school webpage a section on ethnic inclusivity and diversity. Mr. Corno affirms that this section already exists and is actually one of the first things visible on the official webpage. Indeed, there is a section about the diversity of schools from which our students originate, which can be seen on the homepage of the website just below the overview of the College’s programs. In addition, the Director-General asserts that he does not want to stop at simple statements, but undertake real actions. He wishes to see diversity and inclusivity in classrooms and club activities. There are current plans to promote this message during ArtsFests this year as well.
Of course, if the student body sees any modifications or additions needed on the College’s webpage, the administration is always open to suggestions.
Tuition During the Pandemic
In light of the pandemic, many students and parents have raised questions concerning the tuition. Importantly, why it has not been reduced despite students not having access to many of the campus facilities such as the gyms and computer labs. Congress had already conveyed the administration’s answers to these questions back during the fall semester, but the Director General decided to personally clarify the College’s position once again during this Congress meeting.
As the government remains indecisive and inconsistent in its regulations against COVID-19, the College has refrained from bringing too many changes to the tuition to avoid complications. Had they felt that the academic and learning experience would be heavily impacted, changes would have been made.
Tuition is the College’s greatest source of income and allows them to pay for all the College’s spending. Despite classes moving online, the salary of the faculty members have not changed. While the College has indeed saved money on the building’s management fees (i.e. heating, electricity, water, etc.), these only have a minor impact on the total expenses, therefore the administration determined that such minor changes to the tuition fees are hardly worth the trouble.
Furthermore, the College finds that rather than going through the trouble of making small changes for everyone, it would be much more beneficial to focus efforts into directly helping the families of students who were financially impacted by the pandemic.
As such, for any student in need of financial assistance related to the pandemic, the COVID-19 Emergency Fund – a joint initiative between the Marianopolis Millennium Foundation and MSU Congress – is available, and the information on how to apply is accessible on Omnivox under the Documents section.
Congress has been notified of a case of Zoom intrusion during an online class. Two unauthorized anonymous users entered a Zoom class. They spammed distasteful language in the chat, had given themselves vulgar names and were only stopped when the teacher noticed the disturbance albeit only 20 minutes after class had started. As there have yet to be other similar cases reported, Congress does not see a reason to act too harshly upon this situation. However, there are concerns that this incident may encourage copycats. As Editor-in-chief of MWR, Bhromor Rahman responded, “People are stupid, it could become a trend.” If such is the case, Congress is considering measures such as tracking IP addresses to discourage such behavior.
Furthermore, a reminder that teachers have full authority over who can access their Zoom class. There are good security systems set up when admitting students in the class, and teachers can easily kick out disruptive users. As teachers may not always notice chat activity while they are teaching, students are encouraged to notify teachers of any unwelcome guests.