It's a new year and the SRC has some exciting new projects in the pipeline! Following our January General Assemblies, we have compiled this departmental update which details the executives' current projects and involvements. We will be publishing a new February departmental update in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on our blog for this post which will discuss elections and new projects. As always, we encourage feedback or questions from students about the SRC's current portfolios! Don't hesitate to contact any of our members through the Contact Us page.

Update from Matthew Robinson, President

For the first time ever, Winter Orientation Week was carried out with formal and thorough programming. This is extremely important from a retention perspective and as a tool to help new students acclimatize themselves and learn about our university. Unfortunately, the events were not as successful as we would have hoped, but the program was valuable and fun for the students who did attend. Looking forward, we hope to have set a new standard in terms of goals for future programming. We hope to go back to the drawing board next year and improve communication with university partners to continue to push the expectation for Winter O-Week.

Planning for Awards Night, an annual event that aims to reward academic and non-academic achievements at Bishop's, is currently underway. The intention is to rebrand the event to reestablish the value it provides to all students. Meetings with various stakeholders have been taking place over the past months in an effort to combine forces to create a larger-scale event, though gaining traction with these stakeholders has been difficult. It will be a more inclusive event this year, but will likely not be as large-scale as previously hoped.

The General Assembly has voted to amend the constitution to create the position of VP Student Life. This decision was made following a three month analysis and a report from the Internal Review Committee. The details of this proposal can be found on our blog and the discussion regarding this change can be found in the minutes from the January 17 Special General Assembly Meeting. The Internal Review Committee will continue to meet over the upcoming semester to further plan for this shift in the SRC's organizational structure. More external guests will be invited to these meetings in an effort to increase perspectives to improve the efficiency of the SRC.

Update from Emily MacGowan, Director of Finance and Operations

Doolittle's and The Gait have been doing very well this year and are set out to be even more successful in their operations in the coming semester. The Gait has almost every Saturday booked with major events this semester, both from internal users (clubs and SRC events) and external organizations. Doolittle's will be getting hats, mitts, and travel mugs soon, so be on the lookout for those in the store.

Winterfest planning is coming into full swing. We have had developments with the NBA All-Star Tour, though the details are yet to be finalized. More details will be shared soon.

Update from Benjamin Tracy, Director of Marketing and Communications

Lots has been done last semester to improve communications between the SRC and the student body, but that is only the beginning! Since the last General Assembly in December, Benjamin has continued to write monthly SRC updates. Two other blog posts have also been written by the Executive Cabinet and compiled by the DCM to respond to student comments from the SRC Forum in November. These informative posts can be found here and here.

Below are some of the smaller tasks and projects that have been completed in the past month:

  • An organizational chart has been created in preparation for the upcoming executive election to explain the SRC's executive structure.
  • More items have been added to the "What We Do" web page to illustrate the SRC's various involvements. More specifically, a page has been created to list the committee's on which SRC Executives sit as voting members.
  • The elections page has been update to clarify the process of running in the SRC executive election.
  • A new page has been created that lists funding opportunities that are open and available to Bishop's students.

Update from Chelsea McLellan, VP Academic

A new #TextbookBroke Campaign kicked of the year's initiatives in an effort to lobby for affordable course materials. The event included a photo booth as well as textbook price guessing game "The Price is Wrong". In the coming weeks, the academic department will be working to create information cards to circulate to professors explaining more affordable options to the classic textbook sales model.

A meeting was held with the registrar and VP Governance to discuss implications of a referendum regarding a potential fall reading break. Chelsea has researched several Canadian universities to look at their formats, which include single-day breaks, week-long breaks, among many other options. Next steps for this project include gathering further research about which times are the most relevant for mental health, meeting with Jackie Bailey to get Bishop's student statistics, and meeting with academic officers to get input and move forward with an information session.

Following our endorsement of university sessional dates last fall, we received new information indicating that we cannot start before Labour Day because of the faculty's Collective Agreement. As a result of this, senate will be moving forward to begin classes Labour Day. As some may be aware, The Campus newspaper wrote a misinformed article regarding General Assembly's sessional date approval. Chelsea has written a response article that can be found on our blog and in the upcoming issue of the newspaper.

The SRC's Peer Mentoring program is moving along at an excellent pace! Chelsea has been meeting with stakeholders from across the campus to ensure that student statuses are considered when creating the guidelines document. A meeting with ConEd raised a great comment about the Explorer Program, namely that student participants are often unknowledgeable of their rights. With that in mind, we will be working towards developing an orientation program with the SRC this summer to make sure that they are informed of their rights and services.

The University's Academic Calendar is in dire need of a refresh. While some departments have clear indications of required courses and timelines (business, for example), others are vague and confusing for students. Over the fall semester, Chelsea asked that the ASAP committee strike a sub-committee to evaluate the "University Regulations" component of the calendar, particularly as it pertains to course syllabi. Chelsea will be following up with the committee this year and meeting with the university VP Academic regarding the calendar as a whole. She recently raised the concern to Senate that the calendar should be updated and reformatted to ensure accessibility and clarity.

The committee for spring school courses will be meeting again to discuss the draft report that Chelsea wrote up and to proceed with its evaluations and recommendations. A survey was circulated at the end of the fall semester and received 300 respondents, which is an impressive turnout for online surveys. For the time being, the suggestions will not be completed in time to impact this Spring School significantly (although it may affect certain areas such as advertising and collaboration with Con-Ed). Senate Planning Committee (the committee that determines spring courses) met last week and approved 30 courses (excluding those that are held pro-bono). 30 courses is the absolute minimum following our motion that we passed last year. We will continue to fight for more classes in order to better serve our students.

Update from Heather Barlow, VP Student Affairs

On February 19th, 2016, Heather will be hosting an Apartment Living Workshop in the Adams Dining Room. This workshop will be targeted at all students living off-campus and in residence in an effort to keep students informed about tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities. We will also be diving into what it means to sign a lease, tips for cooking for yourself as a student, roommate relationships and more! This will be a drop in style event.

The BU Love Yourself Campaign is back from last year and will be happening in the SUB Lobby on January 19th and 20th. Everyone will have the opportunity to stop by and take a picture with one of the whiteboards completing the sentence "What I love about myself is...". This will be a lead up to Mental Health and Wellness Week and will encourage everybody to take a minute to think about what they love about themselves and promote positive self-image.

A survey was sent out to all students who received exam care packages this past semester. This was used to give the Student Affairs Department an idea of how to improve the exam care packs for next semester and in future years.

SafeWalk is back this semester to provide Student Safety with volunteers who will help walk intoxicated students home. Again this semester, all members of GA will be volunteering with the SafeWalk program to give back to our community.

Update from Eamonn Doyne, VP Social

This month, Eamonn is working to create a new event, "Frosh-In-A-Can 2.0". Similar to Frosh-In-A-Can in the fall semester, this event will involve a bus trip to Quebec City to watch our basketball teams play Laval on Saturday January 23rd. The women's team is on at 5PM and the men's team plays at 7PM. Marketing for the event will begin tomorrow with a Facebook event, and tickets will be sold at Doolittle's and at Club Day.

Club Day is another initiative of the Social Department, which will be taking place on Tuesday the 26th, followed by club head orientation on the 29th.

Winterfest, Blood Drive, and Grad Formal are the big events of the coming semester. The social department will be organizing a ball hockey tournament at Winterfest and will also be looking into alternative events to attract more people. Blood Drive beat the record for most first-time donors last semester and almost broke the all-time donor record. Planning for that event is underway. Lastly, the Grad Formal committee will be meeting on February 5th to discuss plans for this coming year's event.