Dear Members of the SRA, I would first like to take the opportunity once again to congratulate you on your election to the assembly for the coming year. As a representative on the SRA, the ability to positively impact the campus experience for all students is now in your hands. Whether this is your first time as an assembly member or youâ€™re coming back for another term, prepare yourself for a fantastic year of opportunities. My decision to run for Vice-President (Administration) is the result of a combination of experiences on campus and a genuine passion for improving student life. After two years as an SRA Science representative, I have seen first hand the tangible and positive impacts that can come from this assembly. Fortunately, I have also been able to see the day-today impact that our services have on student life through my involvement as an Executive Board member. In addition to my MSU experiences, I have involved myself with the larger McMaster community as a Residence Orientation Representative for two years, as well as having the opportunity be the Residence Orientation Advisor for Brandon Hall this past year. Through these experiences as well as many others, I have developed a true passion for empowering students to help better the quality of life on campus. When developing my platform, I focused on the different ways that I will be able to support the SRA members, the Part-Time Managers (PTMs), and McMaster students at large. I want to remove unnecessary barriers that impede the potential for growth within our organization. I want to be approachable and maintain an open dialogue with all members of the MSU. I want students to feel part of a larger community that is full of opportunities to get involved with and can offer them the support that they need. I believe my platform is both tangible and feasible, but most of all, will help better the student experience at McMaster. I hope you take the time to read through my platform to get a better understanding of my vision for the Vice-President (Administration) for the upcoming year. I look forward to presenting my ideas to you on April 6th. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have ahead of time. Sincerely,
Aaron Morrow Candidate for Vice-President (Administration)
EXPERIENCE My experience on campus is not just limited to that of a managerial nature - I have also been lucky enough to be involved in Welcome Week and our services as a frontline volunteer. This on-the-ground experience has given me a wider understanding of the issues that students, volunteers, and mangers face on a daily basis. SRA Science Representative, April 2012-March 2014 Helped develop a strong relationship with the McMaster Science Society Put a focus on research opportunities in science and transitions for caucuses Member on the EFRT Advisory Committee and the Child Care Centre Advisory Committee Executive Board Member, June 2012-March 2014 Oversaw the day to day operations of the MSU including reports from the services, updating Job Descriptions, and dealing with employment matters Had conversations with the PTMs about the ongoing challenges and successes of each of the services Involved in the strategic long-term planning of the MSU Residence Orientation Advisor, March 2013-September 2013 Planner for Brandon Hall’s Welcome Week for over 500 students Oversaw a team of 21 Residence Orientation Representatives Duties included budgeting, conflict management, implementing training, and ensuring an accessible Welcome Week for all Brandon Hall students Worked closely with Welcome Week Planners from all corners of campus life Planning Team Member for Horizons, April 2013-August 2013 Developed and organized multiple sessions, including a complete restructure of two, as the Sessions Coordinator Trained all the Leadership Developers on best practices for facilitating conversations with delegates Worked alongside seven Planning Team members to run a three day conference for 150 incoming McMaster students Residence Orientation Representative, September 2011 and September 2012 Helped transition students to Bates Residence and Les Prince Hall Worked with large teams to provide an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere Maintained a level head and a positive attitude while dealing with conflict management and high pressure situations Leadership Developer for Horizons, August 2012 Helped implement and direct sessions and conversations with delegates Acted as a resource for the incoming McMaster students Facilitated debriefs within smaller groups
SUPPORTING OUR SERVICES After thorough consultation with the current VP Administration, it is clear to me that the main focus for the VP Administration next year should be on the services, both old and new. Meeting and listening to all the incoming PTMs’ plans for next year has allowed to understand each of their individual visions for their services. With my experience as an Executive Board member, a manager, and a planner, I believe I possess all the tools necessary to support our PTMs to ensure the success of all of our services.
Training Currently, most of the training our PTMs undergo is during two sessions: one in April and another in August, with ongoing training during monthly meetings throughout the year. However, PTMs are being hired throughout the year (e.g. CLAY and Horizons) and some services (e.g. MACycle and Mac Farmstand) begin operations at the beginning of the summer. As an organization, we need to ensure that our PTMs feel fully empowered to effectively run their service from their first day on the job. One-on-one training with the VP Administration for PTMs hired during the academic year Introduce a May training for the PTMs operating during the summer Have the PTMs who were trained in May help with training of the entire PTM team during the August training
Women and Gender Equity Network (WGEN) Pilot A strong presence from day one is essential for this service to get the traction that is needed for its success. We want the student population to be aware that the WGEN now exists on campus, but we also want to show University Administration that we take gender equity issues seriously within the MSU. Create Job Descriptions, hire a PTM, and hire a WGEN Liaison Begin developing programming ideas with the Coordinator during the summer months Run promotional and educational events during Welcome Week Use September as a month to focus on promotions and training volunteers with an official launch in October
McMaster Outdoor Community Rink (MOCR) After securing funding from SLEF, the next step for the MOCR is to build the personnel structure. Through preliminary conversations with the university, the current plan is for the MSU to supply the Rink Manger and other executive members. Hire part-time employee to begin working on the logistics and programming for the rink Have the part-time employee report to Executive Board for feedback and direction Evaluate where the MOCR best fits within the MSU (i.e. its own service or underneath another existing service)
Volunteer Recognition Volunteers are one of the most valuable resources within the MSU. As an organization, we need to ensure that we are properly thanking our volunteers for the effort that they are putting in. Work with VP Finance to ensure that each volunteer is being recognized equally for the quality and quantity of time they provide Have conversations with PTMs about potential ways of implementing volunteer recognition Ensure a balance between standardization and unique needs of each service is met
Space Audit Part of the VP Administration’s job is to chair the Space Allocation and Audit Committee. This upcoming year, the committee will be auditing all MSU spaces looking at service space requirements and efficiency of the office setup. With space on campus becoming a larger issue each year, this audit will be extremely important. Contact the different departments early to give them time to think about their current space Send out a questionnaire asking for detailed answers regarding the space Physically perform an audit of each space with the entire committee Provide a report to the SRA and Executive Board, as well as feedback on all MSU spaces
Extra Support for Specific Services
Spark: As this is its first year, act as a resource for the PTM particularly helping with brainstorming weekly session ideas and providing support and expertise where needed. Diversity Services: In the past couple of years, the management structure has been changing to find the best fit for the service. With a structure finally set in place, it will be important for the VP Administration to provide support to the Director/Assistant Director in setting clear expectations for the current positions. Elections: Ensure the CRO and DRO have the support they require to properly promote and implement each election cycle. SCSN: Since SCSN has moved to the Committee Room with hopes of moving to 88 Forsyth in the future, ensuring that the PTM has all the needed resources to run the service smoothly will be essential.
Empowering the Student Representative Assembly Being an SRA member for the past two years has really given me a solid grasp of the many areas that can be improved upon for next year. As new SRA members, the learning curve is large. It often takes SRA members a few months to feel comfortable getting involved in conversations at the assembly. My experience with training will help me empower our SRA members to start the year on the right foot.
Training I believe that it is the job of the VP Administration to ensure that all SRA members are equipped with the resources that they need. Providing SRA members with a comprehensive training of the basics of the MSU will help guarantee that all representatives feel comfortable early in their term to speak up and make informed decisions. For this year, strong focus at June training on understanding our MSU Services, Operating Policies, Bylaws, the Constitution, Full Time Staff, etc. Look into creative ways to provide this knowledge to the incoming SRA members next March to ensure they have productive conversations with Vice-President candidates
Commissioners The VP Administration is in charge of all training that takes place at the SRA level. One area that I believe needs more support is training for Commissioners. Our Standing Committees do extensive work throughout the year, and as such they should be provided with all the tools necessary to run efficient and productive meetings. Session during summer training on leading and facilitating conversations Clear expectations for reports to the SRA Regular meetings throughout the year to discuss any ongoing issues
Transition With new SRA members joining the assembly each year, it is important that thorough transitions are in place. Focusing on Caucus transitions will allow all members to gain valuable knowledge about the inner workings of a Caucus, the Standing Committees, Executive Board, and the MSU in general. Encourage informal conversations with outgoing and incoming Caucus members Make Caucus transitions a mandatory process within our Bylaws Solidify and distribute a Caucus transition template Implement mid-year transition reports in addition to year-end transition reports Reevaluate current transition report templates
Improving Welcome Week Welcome Week has the opportunity to grow and expand to ensure that each and every student feels included. Being a Residence Orientation Representative I have a solid understanding of what it is like to be on the frontline of Welcome Week. As the Planner for Brandon Hall’s Welcome Week, I also know what it takes to train and educate our reps to ensure they feel prepared. Combining these two experiences will allow be to portray the unique perspective of all members involved with Welcome Week.
MSU Representation McMaster University and the MSU are equal partners in Welcome Week. However, that does not always translate to equal representation around the committees surrounding the planning of Welcome Week. To me, equal partners should mean equal representation. Advocate for equal representation for the MSU on all Welcome Week committees Ensure that key members from within the MSU are heard such as the Welcome Week Faculty Societies Coordinator
Focus on Faculty Societies If there should be anyone organizing and planning programming for students, it should be by students. Faculty Societies currently are doing a fantastic job of reaching out to students during Faculty Day, Faculty Night, and throughout the week. However, that being said, I think there is a lot of room to grow. Advocate for fairer distribution of the Welcome Week Levy Push for more Faculty events throughout the week Involve the Welcome Week Faculty Societies Coordinator in the larger discussions surrounding Welcome Week
Training With a new style of training being introduced this year, I believe we have a unique opportunity to reevaluate what types of training should be offered. The conference style training is going to allow for a wider variety of training to be offered. Provide more hands-on training to reps in place of lecturing Ensure mental health training continues while advocating for an expansion into anti-oppression and accessibility training Train reps to think about the diverse student population on campus and create an inclusive atmosphere for all students, including those less extroverted
Strengthening Communication Personally, I believe that one of the most important qualities that a VP Administration should display is approachability. In order to have fruitful conversations about student life, there must exist open lines of communication within the MSU. Our PTMs and SRA members should not hesitate to bring an issue or an idea to the VP Administration.
Better Reporting It is time that the reporting expectations within the MSU are reevaluated. Often the report templates do not have clear expectations as to what should be provided in the report. In addition, it is important that reports are being brought forward at times of the year that they are most useful. With better reporting, we can have more constructive conversations about the MSU and its long-term vision. Update template structures to provide clearer guidelines and expectations Provide examples of good reports to PTMs and SRA members Have the services report to Executive Board while operating during the summer period
Acting as the Bridge Often VP Administration candidates create a platform point about building bridges between SRA members and the PTMs with very little outcome. I want to be that bridge within the MSU, not only for SRA members and PTMs, but also for any student wishing to get involved. Plan social events for MSU members to foster positive relationships Organize roundtable style conversations about current student issues Provide opportunities for SRA members to better understand the role of a PTM, and vice versa
Vision Alignment with the President-Elect Having a strong understanding of the President’s vision is essential for a VP Administration. As a Residence Orientation Advisor this year, I had the opportunity to work closely with Teddy Saull, the President-Elect. Through this experience, it became evident that we shared a similar vision and passion for improving student life on campus.
Peer Tutoring Network Education is one thing that connects all students together on campus. It is important that the MSU is providing support in all aspects of student life, including academics. As another new service next year, it is important that all logistics are carefully thought through before beginning programming. I also believe that this would be a project that all members of the Board of Directors could collaborate to see it succeed. Hire a part-time employee to fully flush out the logistics of the service during the first semester Begin promotions during the first semester leading up to the official launch Launch the Peer Tutoring Network Pilot for second semester
Frost Week Much like Welcome Week and Homecoming, Frost Week has the potential to bring our community together and build McMaster pride. Currently there are a lot of events being run during the week by various partners on campus. However, there is a lack of communication between these groups that leads to a less impactful Frost Week than we’d like to see. Use the Student Relations Committee as a tool to bring campus partners together Get all Faculty Societies involved in the week to create a larger buzz on campus Organize events for students in all years to participate in, while ensuring that they are accessible and inclusive
Conclusion I truly believe that the role of Vice-President (Administration) is to act as the main support system within the MSU. That exact reason is why I focused my platform on how I can empower others to make impactful decisions throughout the coming year. My involvement within the MSU and on campus has helped me grow as a person. As an SRA member I have learned that our student population has a wide variety of needs and issues that the MSU has the power to address. As a volunteer and an executive member of one of our services I have seen firsthand the impact that the MSU has on a daily basis. As a Welcome Week Representative I have witnessed students embrace McMaster as their home. These experiences collectively have been the most rewarding part of my undergraduate career. I have the experience and passion needed to excel as the Vice-President (Administration). I would like to thank you for reading over my platform and for sharing your ideas for bettering the MSU. I believe that the MSU is going to do great things next year, and I would be honoured to be given the opportunity to contribute to its success. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.