Edited: January 18th at 11:10
At the beginning of the year, the SRC (Students’ Representative Council) executives held a brainstorming session and came up with a set of “pillars” they hope will improve the effectiveness of the Student Representative Council and will serve as a strategic plan for the student owned and managed organization.
According to a strategic plan posted on the SRC’s website www.unbsrc.ca these pillars are as follows:
Renovating the SRC
SRC president, Jordan Tracey, says that the first focus of the SRC will be renovations, which includes improving communication between members.
According to Tracey, “(in previous years) there had been a lot of communication lapses between security and the SRC, administration and the SRC, (and) conference services and the SRC.”
Tracey explained that when hiring the executives for this year, his main goal was to provide an inclusive environment that would foster better communication.
“Last year, there would be conversations only two people would be involved in.” says Tracey who hopes to have all five included this year.
Another issue under the banner of ‘renovating the SRC’ is the idea of ‘focusing on what matters to students’.
Emily Fox, vice president external, takes on some of this responsibility in regard to lobbying on behalf of the students. One thing that has been brought to her attention this year is the dissatisfaction with the number of mental health counsellors at UNBSJ. She has heard issues with amount of time students have to wait to get in to speak to one of the available counsellors.
After hearing from multiple students, Fox said, “this is what is most important to students on my campus, and this is what I am going to fight for.”
Amplifying the Student Voice
To amplify the student voice, Fox hopes to bring the SRC back to full membership in the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA), stating that she thinks “full membership would be beneficial. I like where the NBSA is going now and I think it would be nice to have a vote on the board”.
Last year’s SRC voted to step down to half membership with NBSA, giving the reason of rising fees, despite Jordan Tracey (then vice president external), voting to approve the fee increase for the organization.
The significance to having half membership is that although a representative can sit on the board and give feedback, they do not get the chance to vote on issues.
Excellent Service Delivery
The SRC executives have stated repeatedly that they want to encourage transparency and accountability with an open door policy for students.
“The SRC office was one of the main stops for the amazing race challenge during orientation week, we wanted to get people familiar with where the office is and also with the faces of the SRC executives.”
The services that the council currently provides to students includes health and dental coverage, safe-ride, and funding and support of clubs and societies.
The general council, made up of student representatives from across campus, has not had any issues or questions regarding service delivery at their monthly meetings, held to keep the executive accountable.
Focus on Enhancing the Student Experience on Campus
Jenna Evans, vice president social hopes to enhance the student experience on campus through events.
Evans’ goal this year is to host a few good events, hoping that by limiting the number she can increase the quality of each event.
Though the first few major events have centered on drinking, Evans says there are plans throughout the year where underage students, or students that do not drink, can still fully participate, pointing out some that have already happened such as coffee houses and an ugly Christmas sweater party.
Evans says she is looking into the possibility of getting Spidey the hypnotist to perform at UNBSJ again this semester, despite a less-than-stellar turnout during orientation week.
vice president of student affairs, Kjeld Conyers-Steede, is responsible for the clubs and societies on campus. At the time of interview he claimed he had “attended every club event” and stated that he hopes to, “engage with more students face to face to get them involved”.
Conyers-Steede has also said his door is always open to students who are looking to start new clubs, which may be more difficult since the executive decided to decrease the clubs and societies budget to help cover cost overruns from orientation week.
In addition to these pillars, the SRC hopes to make a comprehensive list of what is expected of students that step into the executive positions in future years.
The SRC also hopes to communicate what students can expect from the SRC for what is to come of the rest of the 2015/16 academic year. With one semester already over, and issues with the SRC website, this may prove to be difficult.
Though all the executives agree there are still changes to be made, their opinion is that this year’s council is already a better group then last year. Their hope is that while working on these pillars, they will set a standard for future years.
With such a steep learning curve for the relatively new executive, only time will tell if the promised policy reviews and communication improvements will be implemented in the limited time frame remaining for the year. In addition, the question of whether or not these changes will have meaningful effects for the students this semester as well as lasting effects for the student organization remains to be seen.