October 2, 2020

Marianopolis Student Union Congress

 2020-2021 Academic Year

14th Official Meeting

Location: Google Meets
Day: Friday, October 2, 2020

Time of Start: 4:21 PM
Facilitator: Laurence Liang
Meeting type: Weekly
Note taker and timekeeper: Thomas Khairy
List of attendees (Congress members): Mahmuda (Mau) Sekendra Mahin, Tristan Boucher, Misha Fotovati, Maria-Vera Azadian, Emanuel Cosimo Curto, Zhaoran Wu, Pratham Mehta, Yena Lee, Allison Engo, Thomas Khairy, Yu Zheng Lu, Laurence Liang. 
Regrets:  Anne Lin Arghirescu (late)
List of attendees (guests): Mr. Eric Lozowy, Ms. Penelope Kostopoulos, Camille Zhou, Si Wen Shen
Student Services Representative: Ms. Trudy St-Croix
Quorum: 7

Agenda Items

  1. Call to Order 

The Regular Weekly Marianopolis Student Union (MSU) Congress Meeting of October 2, 2020, was convened at 4:21 PM by President Laurence Liang.

  1. Roll Call of Members

The MSU Congress Members who are present at this meeting are: Mau Sekendra Mahin, Tristan Boucher, Misha Fotovati, Maria-Vera Azadian, Emanuel Cosimo Curto, Zhaoran Wu, Pratham Mehta, Yena Lee, Allison Engo, Thomas Khairy, Yu Zheng Lu, Laurence Liang. Anne Lin Arghirescu arrived late.

  1. Guests presented by Laurence

The guests who are present at this meeting are: Mr. Eric Lozowy, Academic Dean of Marianopolis, Ms. Penelope Kostopoulos, Associate Dean, Student Success of Marianopolis, Camille Zhou and Si Wen Shen, representatives from the Marianopolis World Review, and Trudy St-Croix, the Student Services Representative.

  1. Approval of last meeting’s Minutes 

The Minutes of the Regular Weekly MSU Congress Meeting of September 25, 2020 were written by Thomas Khairy. These Minutes were approved by Laurence Liang on the 2nd of October, 2020.

  1. Approval of the Agenda

The Agenda of this day’s meeting has been unanimously approved.

  1. Introductions (15 min)

All 17 meeting attendees (Congress members and guests) introduced themselves to each other.

  1. Updates
    • Social Justice Update presented by Tristan 
      1. Celebration Days 
      2. AP activities 
      3. Thrift Store

Tristan has sent the LibGuide modifications proposal to the administration. Orange T-shirt day went well and the next big social justice day is Mental Health Day (Saturday, Oct 10). The Social Justice Committee started work on their FAQ initiative, the thrift store, and they started finding people who can direct activities during AP. Tristan and Anne are working together on a contract for the Anonymous Forum which will be ready by Sunday, Oct 4 so that this project can be operational as of the week of Oct 12. Finally, Tristan is working with Mau on registering Marianopolis as qualifying for Spotify’s student discount and he’s also working on different playlists with Yu Zheng for students to access on this platform.

  • Instagram Challenges update presented by Maria and Tristan 

Maria and Tristan worked together on preparing 6 different Instagram challenges for students to participate in. For the sake of surprise, they will not be revealed until they begin. The prizes are $15 Uber eats gift cards for students to support their favourite local businesses, and the @maristudentunion Instagram will be used to showcase the best challenge submissions.

  • Cultural Affairs update by Yu Zheng 

Yu Zheng and Maria are working together to post Instagram stories for cultural holidays. Since Halloween is coming up, Yu Zheng will start a Cultural appropriation campaign. She’s also planning a cultural movie night after midterms and she is creating different cultural Spotify playlists.

  • Charities and Volunteering update by Allison 

Allison presents her new initiative, Student Volunteer Interpreters, to Congress. This will allow multilingual students to volunteer in service to allophones who speak limited English or French and cannot communicate with their healthcare provider. Currently, hospitals rely on random people from the streets to provide translations, which are often not of the highest quality. An initiative such as the one Allison is creating doesn’t exist so she has already done all the research to ensure that it meets COVID restrictions. She is writing an official proposal and so far the feedback is positive. She believes that it is time to let the student body know that this project is ready to go and Congress approves.

  • Administrative Update by Thomas (1 min)

Last week, Thomas presented Microsoft Planner to Congress to be used as their task list. After the first week is finished, he says that he’s happy everyone familiarized themselves with the platform. He explains that from now he will be updating it after every meeting and expects Congress members to check it regularly and check off their tasks once completed. They are also free to add their own. 

  1. New Business
    • COVID-19 Updates (40 mins)
      1. Student response to on-campus evaluations

Laurence begins by putting things in context for the admin and for Congress members: There’s a petition in circulation as of Thursday evening requesting to have midterms at home. 

Misha, who has been overwhelmed by students expressing their concerns, summarizes why this petition has over 650 signatures at the time of the meeting. She explains that attending campus for exams is a risk to students’ family members which can include vulnerable people, gives rise to insecurities over security measures since gatherings are currently banned by the provincial government, frightens students who need to take public transportation to get to school, and singles out certain students who are required to write them online (fear of being punished by being the only ones to write it online). Finally, students feel like accommodations can be made for exams to be written online since Dawson, Champlain and Vanier have announced having their midterms online. 

Academic Dean Eric Lozowy then speaks about the situation. He says that the College’s decision to proceed via the “5 block model” already limits campus activities out of respect to the students who are uncomfortable attending such events. Blocks 2 and 4 are designed for students to focus on their classes without disruption of studies. In planning, Marianopolis knew there would be a 2nd wave but no one can predict when, so it is unfortunate that it falls very close to block 3. However, guidelines from the ministry have not changed, and ensuring the integrity of the assessment is a big concern, which is why Colleges like Brebeuf and Andre Grasse have half their classes on campus. There were far too many cases of academic dishonesty during the online Math evaluations of the winter semester. He explains that student health and safety is and always has been a number 1 priority and for this reason, he is sensitive to the arguments presented by Misha.

Associate Dean, Student Success Penelope Kostopoulos speaks about the situation. She agrees that there are other ways to prevent academic lack of integrity, as Tristan suggested. Teachers have already had to rethink allowing open books but it doesn’t make sense for students to go from 30s to 90s. Furthermore, the school had previously released a survey asking students whether or not they felt comfortable attending campus for midterms, and the majority said that they would like the exams in person. Open book exams tax different skills and ways of studying so it’s an unproportionate advantage. Another concern on the academic side is protecting the value of our grades and of our diplomas (want the grades to be meaningful). She concludes by stating that there is no doubt that the health and safety of students are a priority.

After much further discussion, Congress and the administration settle on the following: By Monday at 9:30 AM, Congress must present the petition results and a reiteration of their position regarding this issue to the administration.

  • Mental health: Les Impatients Partnership (therapeutic art workshops) presented by Anne to be also presented to the admin (5 min)

Since the summer, Anne has been working on a partnership with Les Impatients to help patients with mental health disabilities through therapeutic art workshops. Since COVID they have been trying to increase their scope by offering their services online, and 3 workshops of 90min for 5 participants would be $600. Anne presents this idea to Congress and the administration. Both parties will further explore this initiative since it deals with mental health. Both Tristan and Misha are also heavily focusing their projects on mental health, a decision that the administration commends. Congress will further look into Anne’s proposal.

  1. Student Focus Group on the Online Semester presented by Misha 

The idea of creating Student Focus Groups was brought up by Misha at Congress’ retreat. She believes now is a good time to put this plan in action since many students have been reaching out to her telling her that they feel overwhelmed with the workload since the start of block 2. Although surveys are useful for identifying opinions, they can’t provide any specifics. Misha therefore wants to create student focus groups to talk about this in more detail. She stresses that anything discussed during these groups will be presented anonymously since anonymity contributes to honesty.

Associate Dean, Student Success Penelope Kostopoulos says that students left many comments on the survey sent by the administration. Many weren’t shy, and a lot of First Years wrote about finding it difficult to adapt to CEGEP. She is in constant discussion with the faculty about the survey’s comments via academic focus groups. Misha and Congress weren’t aware of this, and Misha thinks that students should know that the administration is doing this because they feel like their voices aren’t being heard when they clearly are. Tristan mentions that part of his LibGuide proposal includes making the college’s services more transparent and accessible.

  • Circles for Reconciliation Partnership presented by Anne (partnering with the Indigenous Decolonization alliance of teachers) (3 min)

Anne gives an update on her initiative with the First People’s Clubs to bring Circles online. These are discussions between 5 indigenous and 5 non-indigenous students around the indigenous causes hosted by trained professionals. They would take place during AP on Thursdays and potentially Tuesdays too if the interest is high. So far, Anne has had an overwhelmingly positive response from students and teachers who saw the publicity during the last week.

  • First-year committees by Mau

Mau explains the procedure for starting committees to the First Year Congress members. These include Charities and Volunteering, External Affairs, and Cultural Affairs. Students will be capable of applying to these committees as of the week of Oct 5. 

  • Green Plan presented by Tristan (5 min)

Tristan met with the Green Team, who agreed to contribute to drafting the Green Plan for Marianopolis. Alexander Polkki, Facilities Manager, explained to Tristan that Marianopolis is in the process of rewriting the 5-year strategic plan so he suggests integrating the Green Plan, which is also for 5 years. This will be worked on by the Social Justice Committee and the Green Team.

  • Anti-Cyber-Bullying Council presented by Tristan (5 min)

John Abbott College (JAC) reached out to Congress because they want to form an intercollegiate BSU (Black student union). They were referred to Mamadou Jay, Club Executive of Marianopolis’ BSU. Tristan also presents his plan for an anti-cyberbullying council formed by himself, Misha, Amanda Guay, and 2 SJ committee members. They would deal with cyberbullying by setting boundaries around what it is and evaluating how to make the school safer through a campaign.

  • Virtual Escape room brainstorm by Pratham (7 mins)

Pratham stresses the need to have an exciting event for students since they are reaching culminating points of stress level. Part of his campaign was having virtual escape rooms, so Congress brainstorms how to put this plan in action. This has been done in universities for freshmen as a “welcome” type of event, and Zhaoran confirms that it’s doable and is looking for ways to monitor the room to avoid students playing by themselves. The administration mentions that Student Services is in the process of meeting to come up with ways and spaces for students to get rid of stress (ex: creating a chill space), which Trudy confirms is a work in progress. Pratham concludes that he will remain in contact with Trudy and Student Services and that Congress can have a moderator roaming around the Virtual Escape room. The date is still TBD.

  1. Varia

Nothing

  1. Adjournment

Motion to adjourn – Passed (unanimously)

This meeting was adjourned at 5:56 PM. 

Total duration: 1 hour and 35 minutes.

By |2020-10-16T20:48:16+00:00October 16th, 2020|Minutes|0 Comments

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