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Hi Guys, gals and non binary pals! I wanted to leave students with one final post on the advocacy work and wins we have made this past year.
In our college community we have been able to implement a grade hand back policy of 4 after final exams and 14 days after a regular assignment thanks to student feedback. This means when an assignment is handed in the instructor has 14 days to grade and return it to students with the exceptions of extenuating circumstances. Instructors also have 4 days after a final to get your final grade back! Yaya for grades on time and a VP Internal listening to student concerns.
I spent the year sitting on the Alberta Student Executive Council Board of Directors. I attended three conferences in various locations across Alberta and learned so much about leadership and advocating for students. While politics sound dry to some it was empowering to know students have the power to make positive change for their campus and Alberta. We met monthly and more often then not that included impromptu meetings to discuss current changes in politics.
On a provincial level we have made many wins affecting our students and Albertan students. We advocated for a standalone sexual assault policy. This policy would mean that students across the province have a standardized policy that has been approved by government. These policies cannot include gag orders during or beyond the complaint, threatening sanctions for false complaints or time limits for filing complaints.
We had the enormous win of a tuition freeze implemented February 2019 to replace the former tuition freeze. As was expected, the new regulation limits increases to tuition to the twelve month average of the Alberta Consumer Price Index (CPI), with an effective limit of 10% as domestic tuition cannot increase more than 10% for a program. This is similar to the pre-freeze formula that was the 12 month average of Alberta CPI to a minimum of 0%, to a maximum of 5%. Both the former and new regulation allows for tuition for select programs to be increased by more than CPI as long as the average increase for the institution remains at or below the CPI maximum.
This freeze was exciting because for the first time International students were included. On International student tuition, institutions will now be required to inform the student, when they offer admission, the maximum amount of tuition and fees that the student may be required to pay for each academic year of a standard length of program. Tuition cannot be increased beyond the stated maximums for the international students for the given years. If the students takes longer to complete their program, they may experience a larger increase than the previous years.
Keeping post-secondary affordable is important because we are investing in the future of students and the future of Medicine Hat College. Large scale this helps our community of Medicine Hat by increasing Human capital (things economic nerds get excited about).
We advocated for continued mental health funding. MHC and SAMHC has been receiving money from our advocacy for the past years allowing us to provide more services to students including additional counselors, health and wellness positions and student lead initiatives. We advocated for OERs, transparency in institutional funding and more making headway on all projects. Our students were valued and needs were heard at our fall advocacy week and we hope this progress continues with the new UCP government.
Personally, I would like to say thank you to students who voted to have me represent you and serve you over the past year. We have made great successes which I know will be continued in the future. Most of all, I hope students know they are heard and have the power to start positive change. All of this could not have happened without you, the students.
More information on our advocacy efforts can be found at https://www.albertastudents.ca/archives
Well the time has come to write a goodbye blog and there are definitely a lot of things on my mind as I wrap up my third term as president. I started my journey with the Students Association 5 years ago (I was a Council Representative for two years) as a bright eyed and chipper first year student. I read the textbook chapter before going to class, I color-coded my notes and I always had my hands in the air answering and asking questions. Here we are, five years later. I bought one out of five textbooks this semester, I wrote my last exam with a pencil I found on the hallway floor and I need at minimum one cup of coffee to get me through my day. Oh how the times have changed.
Lots of people have been asking me how it feels to be done and the only word I can think of is bittersweet. While cleaning out my office over the past few days, I have been able to reminisce on many of the memories, challenges and successes that have been had. Of course I am looking forward to not having any six hour long board meetings and not having to write three reports every month but there will be many things that I will miss about the SA. The biggest thing will be doing things for students that students may never even know we did. Like successfully advocating for sustainable tuition or putting free food out (it doesn’t just appear, crazy right?!) or even sitting through six hour long meetings once a month and making sure that students are considered when all decisions are made.
There are a lot of things about being a student executive that I don’t think a lot of people know. Like that we work up to 30 hours a week and also take classes, have a side job, have personal relationships and maybe even have a pet or two that we need to keep alive. For me, that often felt like juggling too many balls at once, and they were on fire (and I can’t juggle). On top of having a lot going on at once, sometimes the things that were dealing with at any given time are really heavy. Student leaders have to make hard decisions, and I can say for myself that I made a lot of decisions that really weighed heavily upon me but that didn’t matter because I needed to do what was best for students, even if it gave me a few gray hairs along the way. Student leaders have to often work extra hard to be heard/taken seriously. While I think this is unfortunate, there are often many voices around the table and sometimes some get drown out. I have been fortunate enough to work with some phenomenal change makers but I have also seen people take advantage of positions of authority and do a whole lot of nothing. Such is student politics.
Something that I never had anticipated I would have to deal with was leading not only my vice presidents but our entire staff team. Three years ago our organization was very different than it is today and that a lot of change has occurred then and now. When I first got the position I anticipated a year of working to get BlackBoard mandatory and making the Starbucks a real one (this is still a priority for me FYI), and planning some rad parties along the way. I quickly learned that I would be responsible for making changes to our team as the organization at the time was not functioning as well as it could have been. My first term was consumed with HR matters but I was lucky enough to have the support of two vice presidents that were in their second terms and we were able to accomplish some great things.
In summary, the past three years have really changed my life. And I don’t mean for that to sound as corny as it does. I have been able to make positive change that has directly impacted students from getting a Fall Mental Health Break to adding a third counselor on campus to setting a new direction for Medicine Hat College. Along the way I have been able to develop so many new skills, learn so many things about myself, work with and make connections with some amazing people (shout out to the SA staff- these individuals keep the show on the road!!), find my voice and meet so many students, many of which have become friends.
Thank you for voting for me to represent you for the past three years. I hope that you feel your time at Medicine Hat College has been positively impacted by the Students’ Association and that you can see the value in this organization. Good luck to Dalton, Sydney and Anushka in the upcoming year, it’s a challenging job but if you’re always doing what’s best for students, you will be successful.
President, Students’ Association of Medicine Hat College
The following was sent to students in response to the decision to transfer ownership of Crave pub to the College. We see value in having a pub on campus, we were suffering significant loss financially. With this decision, the college can operate Crave how they choose and we wish them the greatest success. We will still be hosting events and working with the College to make campus a place students want to be.
Student leaders have voted to hand operations of the Crave restaurant and gym food kiosk to Medicine Hat College, effective April 30, 2019.
In an email to students, SA president Beth Lewis says, “SAMHC has owned and operated Crave for almost a decade with a loss of about $15,000 every year. Clearly, this is not a good use of student fees.”
She explains that student leaders feel they can serve students better by shifting their time and attention to other matters. Student Council voted unanimously in favour of the change.
The college will be reviewing the opportunities generated by the students’ decision.
Wayne Resch, acting president, says there are a range of options ahead. “We will consider all options and determine how we can best serve students, campus guests, and our own needs.”
Existing bookings and events will be managed by Crave, or in cooperation with MHC’s food services. Following the usual pattern, Crave will shut down over the summer.
When I joined the SA team as Vice-President External, I was familiar with student governance and knew my list of goals had to be impactful rather than lengthy. I hoped for a larger social media presence to make students aware and included with day-to-day activities; priority to student vendors and entertainers; and a more inclusive campus culture.
The first was relatively easy to tackle as we revised our social media strategy to networking with students rather than selling to them. We posted work-in progress and polled students on our stories. I curated the Social Media Ambassadors based off similar programs that paid students each semester to post Instagram stories of daily life on campus. Lastly, we added all the student Executives to our social media to let each post what they felt relevant to students. This also left little to no gaps in what was happening on campus.
Student vendors/entertainers understood our culture and played off students. They were respectful and inclusive. They also knew our space, the sufficient equipment and what students wanted to hear. Student entertainers were an excellent addition to events as student vendors usually have student friends making for a built-in audience. We had DJs, musicians, rappers, and more! It was perfect and we hope any students wanting to expand their business or offer services come see us.
Lastly was a more inclusive campus. Our spaces have always been safer spaces for all students. What we wanted to do was a make a public statement of our commitment for safe spaces and inclusion where every student knew without a doubt that they were welcome and could be themselves.
Our major public statement of the year was our Pride Crosswalk outside the main campus doors. This was unveiled September 24th to the public with lots of media coverage for us to share our message of inclusion. We were aware that many did not fall in line with our beliefs that everyone deserves the same respect and it was vandalized, twice. Our commitment to students has not wavered under public opinion. We promised students we will paint the crosswalk as many times as it is vandalized and we will continue to celebrate and stand behind the message of the crosswalk.
The crosswalk means many things to students on campus. Crosswalks were created as a sign of safety from traffic and pride adopted the symbol of safety and they signify safe places and most of all your right of way.
Crosswalks are intersections between drivers and pedestrians. If you’ve ever stood on the side of the road and felt the wind whip past you when a truck raced by, you know the difference between power and vulnerability. It’s easy for drivers, insulated in their vehicles, to breeze past pedestrians — but there are fleshy, vulnerable people to watch out for. Similarly, it’s easy for people who don’t struggle with discrimination due to sexuality, gender, or race to ignore the reality of people who do.
A crosswalk is a reminder to those of us with power to look out for the vulnerable people, to respect their right of way, and to let them pass unharmed. Rainbow crosswalks do all that, while also letting members of a particularly vulnerable population know that their greater community supports them as they move forward on their paths.
While the controversy has died down in our community, our drive for a more inclusive campus has heightened. We are cultural change leaders. Every. Single. Student. We have the power to change what is happening in our community and change the conversation on campus. We can take something like vandalism and make it educational. Take something dividing and bring people together with it to protect each other.
The conversation continues on campus. I represented the students at a two day audit lead by the Center for Sexuality. The Students’ Association led the path for cultural change on campus with awareness, disclaimers, safe spaces, and even symbols handed out to allies. We need to celebrate this! And if you are a student know that you are seen. If you are an ally, student you need to know that you make a difference!
For better representation of LGBTQ2S+ we have created a Task Force that meets to find gaps, create events, and provide feedback to the SA and College. You are seen and you need to be heard. If you are interested in joining the efforts to make a more inclusive campus, please contact me at email@example.com. Cheers!
In January 2019 we got creative with our friends fron Frontier Signworks in Brooks and came out with new Merchandise! We love the styles, fit and design but to be honest Maybe I love the story a little more.
In August, SAMHC hired Cyndi, a graphic designer to work as our Brooks Campus Coordinatoor. She fit in our team seamlessly and her creative side was invaluable to our team and social media presence! Like all good things do, Cyndi left to occupy a full time position at Frontier Signworks, a print shop in Brooks. We wished her the best but wouldn’t let her go that easy. We wanted new swag that fit in 2019 (Goodbye tie-dye!). She created a collection of designs that were beautiful and unique to us while still being gear that we want to wear to work!
Brooks hosts our satellite campus so supporting a local Brooks business was obvious. We ordered hoodies, sweatshirts, tees and long sleeves that will appeal to everyone. The service was great and gave us a little more time with Cyndi. Please stop by our offices and check out our gear or attend our events where grand prize winners are lucky enough to get some new stuff!
*Models are Council Members and Executives. Pride Shirts by MacDesigns
-VP External, Shelby.
(Students of) Medicine Hat College,
As representatives for the entire student body, our mission is to use student fees in a manner that supports and empowers our membership. Over the past eight years our organization has been challenged with operating our food and beverage establishment, Crave. Crave (originally The Den) is a hub on campus for students to receive a sit-down dining experience in a student-focused and student-ran pub. We have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure that the food and drink items are desirable and affordable, the events we hold are appealing to students and that all students feel safe in this space.
The past three years have seen SAMHC Executives take action to improve Crave’s financial standing. Unfortunately, Crave has been negatively impacted over the years by a lack of disposable income of students, reduced trade seats and minimum wage increases.
As we prepare for a future of economic uncertainty, we must ensure that the Students’ Association is not only sustainable but even more importantly, student-focused. Since 2008, Crave has lost over $140,000. We do not take this loss lightly as we like you, pay student fees.
In an effort to ensure we are student-focused and future ready, we are proposing that as of April 30, 2019 Crave is no longer run by the Students’ Association. We have begun working with the College to negotiate a transfer of ownership as we strongly believe Crave is a critical component of our campus.
We would appreciate any student feedback or questions and encourage you to attend our Open House February 13th in the Den from 12:00 to 2:00 with a presentation at 12:15, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely, Beth Lewis, Evelyn Schottner & Shelby Meyer 00000000000
Evelyn Schottner lets you know how services provided by the SA, like her role as VP Internal, helps students everyday.
Being a student myself, I understand the struggles we can face every day with the stress of classes, assignments and working to support ourselves. Sometimes things can get overwhelming and you may need that extra help. I know that some students may feel shame in failing an assignment or a class but that is why I am here to help you.
As your Vice President Internal, I will provide you with guidance and support if you feel that you may have received a grade that you do not deserve.. I will help you find out if you are eligible to go through an informal or a formal grade appeal by going over the four grounds for proceeding with a grade appeal. These grounds are:
We will also be holding mobile offices around the college this semester to make ourselves more visible and to answer any questions students may have. If you see us at our table, don’t hesitate to stop by and ask questions. We will have some goodies and information at our table to hand out, so please come see us.
Some days we hear, what does the Student’s Association do? With the whisperings of making student association fees optional, we have decided to give those of you who are unaware a little more insight of our services and how we add value to students with weekly blogs from the Students’ Association team. Starting with President of three years, Beth Lewis’ gives insights on what her job looks like.
As I begin to wrap up my three years in office, I have been spending more and more time reflecting on what I’ve accomplished, what I haven’t accomplished and what my legacy will be. When I won my first election in March of 2016, the main goal I set out for myself was to leave the organization better off than it was when I took office in May.
Like many new student leaders, I had big ideas with a very limited understanding of why things were the way they were. I quickly learned that I would need to put my priorities to the side for a while to deal with bigger issues that I was walking in to. Within my first week as President, our General Manager left the organization. The learning curve was extremely steep for me. How do I regain staff morale, keep the organization moving forward and move on from this? At the time I only had one year of studies under my belt so to say I had no idea what I was doing was fair. I leaned on my Executive team at the time and worked to rebuild the culture to one that focused on hard work with a focus on students.
The job description for the President position is relatively vague and talks about major roles rather than day-to-day responsibilities. While I may have been arrogant and thought I knew exactly what to expect and what type of leader I needed to be, I soon figured out that what the organization truly needed was different than what I thought it needed. I spent the first few months working with the team of staff that we had and trying to find my way around my new role. I quickly gained a strong appreciation for each of our staff members and the unique skill set that they each contribute to the organization. I eventually got to make positive changes that I had campaigned on and all was good. But to say that along the way I had no curveballs, would be a lie.
Over the past three years my leadership style has changed dramatically, and I think the biggest change is that it developed further. I came into this position as a bright-eyed and bushy tailed, naïve and excited student leader, and I think I will be leaving as a more thoughtful leader with a renewed appreciation for team work, that isn’t as afraid of change… and has the odd grey hair. I am looking forward to reflecting on my three years as President in my upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned as I am sure to discuss my fight to be taken seriously, how politics make me want to poke my eyes out, how I learned that being a leader isn’t about yourself and much more.