Congress Weekly

THE AFTERMATH: Congress Weekly – March 26th 2021

Written Si Wen Shen
Edited by Ze Yuan Fu

Academic Integrity Task Force Campaign for Finals

Once again, we are approaching the time for finals. In order to promote academic integrity among students in this second online semester, Congress has planned a campaign similar to last semester. The previous campaign was rushed, but still received responses from over 50 students. This semester, Congress plans to contact the Office of the Academic Dean to make a joint statement about the subject at hand. Yena is working hard on a campaign which will include other activities (may include prizes) as well as making more videos and social media posts to spread academic integrity awareness. 

Strava Initiative

After some internal voting, Congress will be putting around 1000$ for prizes for the Strava initiative in collaboration with Student Affairs. There will be three categories for prizes: individual, small clubs, and big clubs: the 2 prizes for clubs are essentially another way to increase club fundraising during this semester. How individual prizes will be given is yet to be determined, as the goal of the Strava Initiative is to act as a fundraiser of sorts for clubs, and there should be “no fundraising for personal gain”. The money of the individual prize may be given to a charity of the winner’s choice, or it may be converted to a gift of equal value. In terms of club prizes, officially, a small club is one that consists of 19 or less members. However, there have been concerns as, for example, two winning clubs may have 18 and 21 members, respectively, but their prizes will vary greatly if we follow the official definition of club sizes. Therefore, how the prizes will be distributed remains to be fine-tuned and will be announced when the initiative is officially launched. 

Anti-Hate Initiative and Pamphlet Project

The Social Justice Committee has come together with Student Volunteer Interpreters to create a project in the goal of further fostering a sense of community at Marianopolis. They plan to make a video collage of students telling their testimonies on issues such as hate crimes or discrimination. 

They also plan to create informational pamphlets for vulnerable communities and distribute them around places such as Chinatown. The pamphlets will be in many languages, all in the hope to raise awareness about hate crimes around Montreal. Both paper pamphlets and the creation of a website have been chosen for this project  since it  intends to reach out to the isolated elderly population, who have limited access to social media, and the general population, while trying to be as safe as possible amidst the pandemic. 

Interview with Wayne

Wayne will be appearing in a Facebook MSU video to talk about student life on the Marianopolis campus. Wayne, being such an iconic figure of Marianopolis, will be talking about places like the cafeteria, the student lounge, Wayne’s World and more to show better student life in normal circumstances. Some students have yet become familiar with the campus and still feel disconnected with the college, so this is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the student life. Make sure to check out this episode on Addendum!

3rd Wave

Observing the recent numbers of COVID-19 cases, the possibilities of a third wave in the next few weeks are extremely high. Laurence would like to remind everyone to prepare for the wave. Stay indoors, don’t join illegal gatherings, wear your masks, stay safe. 

Vaccination Campaign

Laurence suggests that Congress gets involved in this historical event of the pandemic by helping with the vaccination process. Possible actions would be to call for volunteers or maybe even making Marianopolis into a vaccination center as proposed by a Congress member. However, the logistics will have to be discussed before bringing up the idea to the administration, as this is no simple task. 

It would be beneficial to start projects to raise awareness about the vaccine, as many have shown to be reluctant or hesitant to take the vaccine. 

Social Activities End-of-year plans

The usual end-of year party may have to go online this year. Perhaps they could invite Hallyu for the performances? Another idea is to make breakout rooms for different groups of friends. Congress has enough budget to plan a fun end-of-year event and will be putting many efforts towards the planning. 

If we’re lucky, the event could be on campus, outside, in the form of some cinepark with social distancing. 

Another suggestion was to offer food or drinks (maybe even boba) on campus during finals to help students taking exams in person. 

Debate Aftermath

The MSU presidential and vice presidential debate on March 25th was quite eventful and gained a great number of viewers. At the MWR, we are very happy to host such interesting events that are welcomed by the student body. 

Those who watched the debate live are likely aware of the heated arguments that the debate sparked in the comment section. In response, Congress and the MWR have gathered and released a joint statement. 

Congress would first of all like to put to rest any claims of favoritism. No endorsements can be made under the name of Congress, but members of Congress were allowed to make endorsements on a personal basis.

Many questioned Congress as a whole when directing questions towards candidates who presently hold a position in Congress. A reminder that these candidates are running as individuals (or slates) therefore their campaign is not associated with Congress. Even as Congress members, they cannot represent Congress as a whole. 

In response to questions expressing dissatisfaction towards current Congress members, Misha reminds everyone that Congress members are, first and foremost, students and should not have to uphold a higher standard of professionalism than others, and should be allowed to speak their opinions freely. Furthermore, she mentioned that they do not have to stay impartial, since the only people required to do so are Mau, ERC members, and your friendly neighborhood reporters here at the MWR. Indeed, an example of this policy is the winner of the presidential election, Pratham, whose slate received three endorsements from current members of Congress on a personal basis.

Several members of Congress were also disgruntled by the MWR’s apparent lack of moderation of the Facebook chat during the debate, which allegedly gave rise to the arguments described above. As we have made it clear in our joint statement with Congress, the MWR supports the freedom of speech of all students. We believe that criticism is a necessary component to the advancement of society, and that it is the individual’s responsibility and interest to be fair, honest and civil in their discussions. Nonetheless, in light of recent events that have transpired, we realize that some members of Congress may have been upset by some messages in the debate chat that the moderation team judged grounds for valid discussion. Therefore, we will do our utmost to ensure that the next debate goes as smoothly as possible for both the participants as well as the viewers.

Concerning issues raised about transparency, Congress has offered clear explanations. A few of the most recent Minutes from the weekly meetings have not been released due to Spring Break. Minutes need to be written out and approved, which can’t be done during break. Furthermore, the February 25th meeting featuring Mr.Corno has been asked to not be included in the Minutes until the College makes an announcement concerning the outcome of the Fall 2021 semester. 

As for budget allocations, Emanuel originally planned to release them on the Congress website towards the end of the year instead of during the year. They have already been posted in the Facebook group for club executives near the beginning of the semester. According to Emanuel, as club execs already have access to them, there should be no problem for anyone, exec or not, seeking information about allocations because the process to retrieve the information is completely transparent. If anyone has further questions or could not find the documents they were looking for, they are always welcome to reach out to Emanuel, who pledged to help with any inquiries concerning finances. 

Lastly, Congress reminds everyone that any questions or concerns can be expressed by reaching out to the members through DMs, the Congress website, and their office hours on Teams (their office hours are posted on the MSU Facebook group under the announcements section). 

As MWR, we have a few matters to address, as there is another debate for the positions of Coordinators happening on April 8th. We kindly ask all viewers and candidates to remain courteous and refrain from any personal attacks or passive-aggressive comments/questions during the debate, including the comment section. Furthermore, we would like to remind everyone that the debate questions are to be aimed at the candidates. Questions can be addressed to specific candidates, to a position, or to all candidates. Audience questions during the debate should be sent through the comment section of the live stream. 

The MWR and Congress will be working closely together to provide a better environment for the next debate. Stay tuned and come watch the stream on Thursday, April 8th!

Stay on the lookout for the upcoming interviews that will be posted on MWR’s Youtube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYpq7O8WpkPhoIkvvSooOAQ

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