November 13, 2020

Marianopolis Student Union Congress

 2020-2021 Academic Year

20th Official Meeting

Location: Google Meets
Day: Friday, November 13, 2020
Time of Start: 4:21 PM
Facilitator: Laurence Liang
Meeting type: Weekly
Note taker and timekeeper: Thomas Khairy
List of attendees (Congress members): Tristan Boucher, Mahmuda (Mau) Sekendra Mahin, Misha Fotovati, Zhaoran Wu, Emanuel Cosimo Curto, Allison Engo, Thomas Khairy, Yu Zheng Lu, Pratham Mehta, Yena Lee, Laurence Liang Regrets:  Maria-Vera Azadian, Anne Lin Arghirescu
List of attendees (guests): Tahira Akbar
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 November 13, 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: Tristan Boucher, Misha Fotovati, Zhaoran Wu, Emanuel Cosimo Curto, Allison Engo, Thomas Khairy, Pratham Mehta, Yu Zheng Lu, Yena Lee, and Laurence Liang. Mau Sekendra Mahin arrived late.

  1. Guests presented by Laurence

The guests who are present at this meeting are: Tahira Akbar, representative from the Marianopolis World Review, and Trudy St-Croix, Student Services Representative.

  1. Approval of last meeting’s Minutes 

The Minutes of the Regular Weekly MSU Congress Meeting of October 30, 2020 were written by Thomas Khairy. These Minutes were approved by Laurence Liang on the 13th of November, 2020.

  1. Approval of the Agenda

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

  1. Unfinished Business and General Orders

None

  1. Updates
    • Student Volunteer Interpreters Interviews

Allison and her committee will spend the next two weeks conducting interviews for the SVI applicants to ensure that they are qualified to fulfill their responsibility.

  • Innovation Hub

The Innovation Hub has a total of 5 submitted projects as of November 13th.

  1. Reminders
    • The Chill presented by Tristan

Tristan announces that 75 students are now part of The Chill on Microsoft Teams. He is actively making announcements in his classes to advertise this virtual student lounge, and he encourages other Congress members to do the same.

  • Tech Committee Design meeting presented by Laurence

Laurence announces that his Tech Committee is meeting Monday, November 16th at 8:00PM to talk about the design of the MSU app and Congress’ website. All Congress members are invited to attend this meeting.

  • Job Fair Tuesday Nov 17 presented by Pratham

Pratham reminds Congress that the Job Fair is happening Tuesday, November 17th at 7:00PM. 5 employers are confirmed to attend and a few more are pending. Pratham asks Congress members to spread the word as much as possible.

  • Volunteering Fair Tuesday Nov 24 presented by Allison

The week following the Job Fair, Allison is collaborating with Pratham to organise a volunteering fair. 4 companies confirmed that they will be attending and a few more are pending. Pratham asks if co-hosting a webinar is a possible option for this event, and Trudy will find out.

  1. New Business
    • Student Petition on Finals presented by Misha and Allison (25 min)

Misha talks about the petition that has been recently circulating around the MSU Facebook group. A handful of students in Calculus 1 are petitioning for the possibility of an additional grading scheme where the final exam is weighted heavier, since the grading schemes this year are based on the location of the exams rather than their result. From the Facebook post: 

Dear MSU,

We, students currently enrolled in Calculus 1 would like to voice out our opinions regarding the grading schemes presented to us by the Department of Mathematics. In light of the current COVID-19 situation, it has come to our attention that having an online final examination is a highly possible scenario. It is unfair that we are not presented with the same academic evaluation scheme because we would like our health to be prioritized. This petition is created to ask the Marianopolis administration and the Marianopolis Department of Mathematics to give us the possibility of our finals counting for the amount indicated on Scheme B even in the case of our finals having to be held online.

Misha was recently informed that the author of this petition is getting hate messages from second-year students who disagree with the petition. This behavior is unacceptable, and Allison highlights that no one should be bullied for trying to help the student community. She continues to say that it is frustrating that a display of courage and leadership results in harming the person in question. Trudy says that Congress should reach out to Amanda Guay, whose mandate is focused on cyber-bullying. Misha agrees that the right thing to do is to contact both the student and Amanda, which she volunteers to do.

Laurence, Mau, and Mr. Eric Lozowy, the Academic Dean of Marianopolis, discussed this petition during their meeting Tuesday November 10th. Mr. Lozowy explained that the administration has no power to enforce grading schemes onto departments, so he asked Congress to refer the students petitioning to the math department. However, the students in question have reached out to their math teachers but were referred to the administration as a result. Laurence explains that this seems to be an administrative issue rather than a Student Union issue. To add to this confusion, Tristan says that he spoke to his teacher, who explained that teachers are allowed to make changes to grading schemes as long as they are approved by the administration. Congress reaches the conclusion that the protocol for changes in grading schemes remains unclear, and the endless loop of referring between the administration and the math department is the consequence.

Misha adds that if the students are asking for MSU endorsement, they would need a General Assembly endorsement, which is not in the realm of student petitions. An example of this scenario is if students decide to petition for a grade of 100% in a course. Even if this petition is endorsed by MSU, it is not in the realm of student petitions. 

Thomas says that for future petitions Congress should review it and explain the petition process to its authors before it circulates. Pratham and Yena agree that the goal of the petition in question is unclear, which explains why there was so much backlash from students not even affected by it. Thomas says that he thinks the next step for Congress should be to meet with the authors of the petition to properly explain the steps to take in order to present it to the math department.

For the sake of time, Laurence moves this point to Varia (X.C) for further discussion.

  • Open House presented by Tristan (3 min)

Tristan announces that Congress will soon be asked to create a video for Marianopolis’ Open House. They need to brainstorm what to talk about so he will create a new Slack channel for this purpose. Misha says that Silver keys have permission to go on campus to film their video, so Congress can try to do the same if members are comfortable with this idea. For a separate Open House video that Tristan is organizing with club executives, he needs to make sure that the content does not overlap with what Congress says.

  • Virtual Escape Room by Pratham (5 min)

Pratham’s committee wants to organize a virtual escape room in November. He proposes to have it take place in The Chill, and Trudy recommends that it be an event during AP to replace The Chill for that day. Pratham says that the cost of the Escape Room is £2.00 per student. Since it will be the first time this event takes place, Pratham’s goal is to have close to 150 students participate, so he asks Congress to allocate $350 to fund this initiative. He suggests having a sign up to know what the total expense will turn out to be based on student interest. Zhaoran believes that proceeding in teams of students is the best option since it will be easier to coordinate.

Congress motions to allocate funds to the Virtual escape room

Decision (unanimous) – $350 will be allocated

  • Fee change decision presented by Laurence (10 min)

Following last week’s meeting where Emanuel presented the financial report, Congress members were tasked with the responsibility of deciding how to spend their $7,000 surplus and judge whether or not to reduce the MSU student fee from $25 to $20. The different ideas brought forward were discussed, and Congress members shared their opinion on the matter. Mau and others do not think that a $5 difference in the tuition will change anything in the grand scheme of things, so it is not worth the big financial hit that it will cause for Congress. Misha agrees that Congress should use the financial surplus to change the culture of how they fund student activities and essentially spend more for the student body. Trudy explains that one year Congress spent $50,000 on a party, and she noticed that they have been more cautious in their spending ever since. She suggests that Congress open the budget applications throughout the year because students need the motivation to participate in student life. After further discussion, Laurence decides that Congress will vote on the matter.

Congress motions to vote on the fee change

Decision (by majority) – MSU Student Fee will remain $25

  • MSU Strategic Goals presented by Laurence (5 min)

Laurence would like for Congress to create a 5 year strategic plan. He explains that the period of transition between every 2 Congresses is not always done smoothly. Mau agrees, saying that it is nice to have different Congresses do different things, but it would also be nice for Congresses to build upon the previous one’s leadership. Laurence decides that Congress should have until the next meeting to determine a timeline of when to set up the strategic plan. Congress then discusses what to do once the plan is written. Misha says that having a GA for student input is a possible option. During the student survey that will be sent out before block 5, students will give their feedback on how Congress has been doing so far. Mau thinks that this is a great opportunity to have a GA. Finally, Trudy suggests that Congress have a Town Hall meeting. They will decide what to do once the plan is written.

  • Social Activities before finals and during holidays presented by Laurence (5 min)

Laurence opens up the discussion of social activities during the holidays to hear if anyone has any ideas. Misha agrees with Laurence and says that Congress should take advantage of the fact that fewer students are travelling during the holidays to organize a social event. Tristan was hoping to throw a virtual party and he will start looking into options as of this week. Mau and Trudy bring up the upcoming Zen week, from Nov 30th to Dec 4th, and propose different ideas. Zhaoran will create a Slack channel for further discussion.

  • MSU Mental health statement presented by Laurence (2 min)

Last week, Congress worked on a statement explaining how they will tackle mental health. Laurence asks Congress members to make any final edits to this wellbeing course of action by the end of the weekend.

  • Party alternatives by Zhaoran (5 min)

Zhaoran announces that, in light of the current COVID-19 situation, there will not be an end of semester party. She would still like to organize something else instead, and mentions that Congress will have to advertise much in advance if they want this event to be as big as the end of semester party. Tristan wants his previously mentioned (IX.F) online intercollegiate party idea to replace the end of semester party. He imagines a huge intercollegiate zoom party with many different breakout rooms that each have different events. Thomas suggests that Congress collaborate with a local provider to sell tickets to the event which comes with a meal. The cost of a ticket will be a discounted meal, and having a ticket will make the party more official. Therefore, students will only be paying for a discounted meal delivered to their house. Tristan mentions that Congress has a partnership with Domino’s Pizza, which can be used for this event. Zhaoran sets a deadline to input any further ideas for next Friday.

  • Christmas Gifts presented by Tristan (7 min)

Tristan wants to use Congress’ surplus to buy Christmas gifts for the students. Zhaoran asks how they will be distributed to the students, so Tristan provides 2 options:

  • Option 1: Students drive by the College and loop around the parking lot to collect their gift.
  • Option 2: Congress collaborates with an online gift-provider/boutique where students can “order” a gift. It will be free because Congress already paid for it.

Trudy will ask the College if the drive-by option is a feasible idea and will also look into option 2. Pratham suggests that the gift be UV glasses since it will be useful to many students, and volunteers to find a provider. Allison suggests that Congress can use option 1 as an opportunity to give students other resources that have not yet been delivered. Misha agrees with Allison and suggests that Congress wait until January to have more time to organize the distribution of belongings.

Tristan’s second point is organizing a secret santa amongst Congress members. Thomas suggests that Congress share the link of the secret santa as a resource to the students who would like to do the same amongst themselves. Emanuel proposes that Congress organize a secret santa for the entire College, except that the distribution of gifts will be problematic due to the COVID-19 restrictions. He suggests that students ship gifts to each other’s houses. Congress will further look into this possibility.

  • Club Weekend Presented by Mau (5 min)

Mau thought of the idea of having a Club Weekend, where clubs can present anything of their choice for the Open House. They will each have a designated time of the day to present. This will therefore need to happen prior to the open house. She believes this project will spark collaboration between clubs while enriching the student life. Mau will further explain this project on Slack.

  1. Varia
    • Congress reach presented by Laurence

Laurence notices that second-year students are not as engaged in student life as the first-year students. Misha also mentions that Congress still have not done their Instagram Takeovers, which she thinks will promote participation in student life.

  • QASAP Coffee House Reminder

Trudy says that no student from Marianopolis has signed up to the Spoken Word coffee house happening next week. This event counts on having a participant from each College in order to keep happening. Trudy asks that Congress make another post about this event since the last one was a few weeks ago. Maria and Misha will draft this new post.

  • Student Petition on Finals

Discussion is continued. Misha has a call with the students who started the petition immediately after the Congress meeting. She has informed them that 200 signatures leads to a GA vote, and she will continue to help them until it starts to look like an administrative problem since Congress has no power at that level. Misha will also set up a meeting with Amanda. After many personal opinions were shared, Emanuel and Thomas stress that it is not up to Congress to determine whether they agree with the petition but to be the voice of the students. Congress therefore will not make a statement on whether they support or reject the petition, but will help and ensure that the students have the opportunity to present it to the math department.

  • Netflix Account presented by Tristan

Tristan wants to make the Congress Netflix account available monthly for students starting after Christmas. Laurence would rather make it available immediately after finals so that the students can benefit from it during the holidays.

  1. Adjournment

Motion to adjourn – Passed (unanimously)

This meeting was adjourned at 6:15 PM. 

Total duration: 1 hour 54 minutes.

By |2021-01-15T22:02:07+00:00January 15th, 2021|Minutes|0 Comments

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