Marianopolis Student Union Congress
2020-2021 Academic Year
18th Official Meeting
|Location: Google Meets|
Day: Friday, October 30, 2020
Time of Start: 4:18 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, Maria-Vera Azadian, Allison Engo, Thomas Khairy, Yu Zheng Lu, Anne Lin Arghirescu, Pratham Mehta, Yena Lee, Laurence Liang |
List of attendees (guests): Mr. Eric Lozowy, Ms. Penelope Kostopoulos, Catherine Pepin, Zeynep Alsancak
Student Services Representative: Ms. Trudy St-Croix
- Call to Order
The Regular Weekly Marianopolis Student Union (MSU) Congress Meeting of October 30, 2020, was convened at 4:18 PM by President Laurence Liang.
- Roll Call of Members
The MSU Congress Members who are present at this meeting are: Tristan Boucher, Mau Sekendra Mahin, Misha Fotovati, Zhaoran Wu, Emanuel Cosimo Curto, Maria-Vera Azadian, Allison Engo, Thomas Khairy, Anne Lin Arghirescu, Pratham Mehta, Yu Zheng Lu, Yena Lee, Laurence Liang.
- 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, Catherine Pepin and Zeynep Alsancak, representatives from the Marianopolis World Review, Trudy St-Croix, Student Services Representative.
- Approval of last meeting’s Minutes
The Minutes of the Regular Weekly MSU Congress Meeting of October 16, 2020 were written by Thomas Khairy. These Minutes were approved by Laurence Liang on the 30th of October, 2020.
- Approval of the Agenda
The Agenda of this day’s meeting has been unanimously approved.
- Unfinished Business and General Orders
- Tech Committee
Laurence’s Tech Committee is now active, meaning that all Congress Committees are up and running.
- Volunteering Fair
Allison and Pratham are collaborating to organize a Volunteering Fair, which will be the first ever of its kind. It will happen Tuesday, November 24th during Activity Period.
Allison’s initiative of Student Volunteer Interpreters is now at the application stage. Students can apply via a Google Forms link until Sunday, November 8th.
- Charities and Volunteering Instagram Page (@msu_charitiesandvolunteering)
Allison announces that her Charities and Volunteering Committee created an Instagram account in addition to their already existing facebook group. Both will serve as a direct means of communication between the committee and the student body.
- Innovation Hub and Social Impact Fund
Both of Laurence’s projects are ready to be deployed. The priority applications are due November 6th.
- First Intercollegiate talk
Pratham announces that his committee has chosen the speaker for the first Intercollegiate Talk. It will be given by Ella Waxman Friday, November 6th.
- Joining other committees’ meetings by Allison (1 min)
Allison reminds the Congress members with a committee that they should add their meetings to the Internal Congress calendar so that other members can attend as guests.
- New Business
- Omnivox Survey Results presented by the Associate Dean (70 min)
Ms. Penelope Kostopoulos presents the results of the survey conducted during block 2, comparing the results to the survey conducted last Spring (April and May). Indications of increase and decrease of statistics are therefore in reference to this comparison.
- 77% response rate, of which 55% are female and 54% are first years
- 905 Science, 359 Social science, 184 Commerce, 85 Arts & sciences, 45 ALC, 29 Liberal Arts, 11 Music
- Confidence in succeeding has increased
- Level of support has increased
- Student engagement has increased
- Limiting factors to academic success: 68% psychological, 42% academic, 28% technological, 25% family, 7% financial, 6% medical, 14% other
- Fewer students said that they face a limiting factor (yes:no = 507:1108 in September vs 665:715 in April)
Overall, Ms. Kostopoulos is incredibly pleased with these results. The faculty had adapted different strategies to adjust to online learning so the survey results prove that they worked. She points out that she was surprised that “Group work” and “Discussion” were rated low in the category of promoting student engagement, which is good to know for teachers since they are presently thinking of further ways to support students with their organization. Other than the numbers presented, Ms. Kostopoulos says that many students left written comments about concerns regarding workload and time management, and she wants Congress to know that they were all looked at. All students will receive a personalized Mio from someone from the administration to “check-up” and to make them feel comfortable speaking to someone from the College. Finally, in terms of moving forward, she likes Congress’ idea of having focus groups for the Winter semester. She concludes her presentation by saying that unfortunately some problems like online screen time do not have a realistic solution, but acknowledging is important.
Tristan, who has taken upon himself the responsibility of tackling mental health since the beginning of the semester, shares that many students have been reaching out to him about College counselors being unavailable to provide their services. Counselors themselves are saying that this semester, the mental health crisis is the worst they have seen in all their years at Marianopolis, and they are completely overwhelmed. He asks if the administration is preparing anything to deal with this issue. Ms. Kostopoulos says that a fourth counselor (Amanda Guay) was added to the team and that Ms. Abraham can be reached if there are other concerns. She encourages Tristan to continue referring students seeking counseling to Student Services even though they are currently booked.
Misha says that she is happy that the faculty took the survey results to heart, and she hopes that all teachers will eventually adjust, since it does not appear to be the case yet. Misha brings up the fact that the written comments of the survey indicate that the biggest problem is the workload, and adds that this problem is also the cause of Marianopolis’ mental health crisis. Misha acknowledges that Marianopolis students will always complete everything given to them no matter how much that load may be, which is academically beneficial but very psychologically harmful. Misha therefore asks that the administration helps in tackling mental health by going to the root of the problem; workload. She proposes that teachers ask students directly for feedback.
Emanuel stresses that communication between teachers and students should be encouraged, if not forced, to assist in solving this problem. Thomas points out that the survey results presented by the administration seem to contradict what the College’s counsellors are saying. Unfortunately, he believes that referring students to College counsellors is an unrealistic solution since they are overwhelmed. Maria suggests that Congress should direct the students to other resources for mental health since counsellors are overwhelmed. For example, external resources are available in the LibGuide, so there should be no problem referring students to them. Trudy says that she will communicate with the counsellors to determine the best solution for the current situation.
For the sake of time, Laurence moves this point to Varia (X.A) for further discussion.
- Advertising Office Hours presented by Thomas (2 min)
Thomas thinks that Congress should advertise their office hours now that midterms are over. He will work on a poster explaining which Congress member to contact for which question, which he will send to Maria to post. He asks Congress members to let him know if they want to customize their own slot.
- Photoshoot presented by Mau (5 min)
Mau says that since the COVID situation will probably not look great in December, Congress should try to do their photoshoot as soon as possible. Since some members might be uncomfortable with this idea, a vote will be carried out on Slack. Misha says that Silver keys tried taking pictures in front of the school but the staff did not let them, so Congress should check with the administration beforehand to make sure that they have permission.
- Les Impatients talk on Mental Health and Therapeutic art in one week by Anne (7 min)
Anne announces that Les Impatients are coming to give a talk Tuesday, Nov 10 during the Activity Period. She would appreciate it if Congress members attend, and will create a form for students to fill out if they are interested in attending.
- Sugar Sammy by Pratham (5 min)
Pratham thought of the idea of inviting Sugar Sammy to perform an online show. He says that the circumstances align since Sugar Sammy is a Marianopolis alumni and he would not have to travel anywhere due to everything being online. Mau says that Congress tried inviting him for a show but that he charged $25,000, which Congress judged was too much. Trudy had also asked him to be a keynote speaker at last year’s graduation but he was too busy, so the odds are not great. Pratham still thinks it is worth a shot so he will reach out to Sugar Sammy in the coming weeks.
- Continued Discussion of Presentation of Fall 2020 Student Feedback by Misha
Congress continues their discussion about the Fall 2020 Survey presented earlier by Ms. Kostopoulos. The conversation had left off with the topic of focus groups, and Congress members are afraid that the administration will not support this idea. Trudy says that if the upper management does not buy into the idea, members of Student Services can support Congress to present it to the administration. Mau suggests that Congress reaches out to the Teachers’ Union for their support in the organization of focus groups since it will mostly be teachers affected by the points brought up. It will also be beneficial to Congress to build a relationship with the Teachers’ Union.
In regards to mental health, Trudy explains that Student Services had to set up a new triage system to deal with the large number of students seeking counselling. 3 counsellors are actively offering their services but the lists are getting longer and they can only see a certain number of students per day. They already see more per day than other schools but self-preservation is important. It took Student Services 4 years to get a fourth worker so they are extremely grateful that Amanda joined the team. She was added to the triage despite her mandate being specific to cyber-bullying. Student Services are open to students reaching out to other resources like JGH and CLSC since their priority is for students to get help, regardless of who provides it. Trudy concludes in reminding Congress that Student Services are not taking the increase in anxiety lightly. Congress is extremely grateful for the hard work of Trudy and her team.
Laurence points out that ever since the start of the semester, Mau and himself have met every week with the administration, but other Congress members are yet to add points to the agenda. He suggests that Congress drafts a plan for block 4 to start off the next week with a strong meeting. He asks Student Services to do the same, so that both parties will have their plan on paper for tackling mental health.
- Saturday Activity presented by Tristan
Tristan is organizing a Murder Mystery for Congress Saturday, Halloween. He gives them all the information for this event and will summarize it on Messenger.
Motion to adjourn – Passed (unanimously)
This meeting was adjourned at 6:06 PM.
Total duration: 1 hour 48 minutes.