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September is a month of novelty—new faces around campus, new courses, new clubs. Among these changes is the return of the Inter-Residence Council (IRC), the organization that represents students living in residence.

The IRC is now functioning fully after a hiatus of event activities from October 2014 to the end of the 2014-15 academic year due to internal restructuring. Nisha Depa, the newly elected IRC President and a fourth year Life Sciences student, is excited to see the changes implemented.

Among these changes is the addition of four vice presidential positions for every residence: advocacy, promotions, administration and yearbook.

This system is similar to that implemented at Guelph, where an upper year fills a mentor position for a council made up of residence students. The goal is to encourage incoming student participation as well as grant students the opportunity to volunteer in positions that do not require the same time commitment as some larger roles.

Changes to IRC bylaws state that two of these positions are filled through an election process while the other two are hired.

In the past, the IRC has operated based on the two main themes of advocacy and programming. A survey distributed to students in residence last year highlighted a demand for greater advocacy. Results showed that only 56 percent of students claimed that they felt they had adequate opportunity to voice their opinions. This gave rise to a new position for Vice President Advocacy and Leadership Development.

When asked about what responsibilities the roles will comprise, Depa explained that the Vice Presidents are working closely with the Director of Housing to create a consultation framework to process requests for issues like more study rooms.

“We have added guidelines into training for event planners to encourage bigger events […] that students can’t plan on their own,” said Gurteg Singh, a fourth year Life Science student and the VP Communications for IRC.

“First year event planner positions allow students to contribute to their own experience in contrast to an upper year planning events for them,” added Depa.

This year there will also be a greater focus on leadership. Changes in this direction are taking place with the addition of new VP, volunteer positions, and the creation of the Students in Residence Fund (SIRF).

“SIRF is a new initiative where students can choose where to [allocate] the money coming out of their residence fees. […] Students can apply for initiatives they are interested in, that then go through the finance committee in order to get passed.”

Along with changes in structure come changes in funding allocation: residences will receive a budget proportional to the size of their student body. Additionally, the IRC has decreased its sub-committees as some delegations have been absorbed into larger groups.

The IRC has come a long way from last October. Events were better organized during this year’s Welcome Week, though not without kinks, like the delay in the Tug of War event.

Despite these few hiccups, the IRC seems to be well-prepared to welcome new students to McMaster and encourage them to get involved with the community in which they live.

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