Every September, a new cohort of first-years come to McMaster, some for the very first time. With these new students comes a new election, this time for the McMaster Students Union First Year Council. By the time you have read this article, the 2017-2018 council will have been voted in and will begin their journey in representing first-year students in student governance.
The need for FYC is simple: the MSU holds elections for their Student Representative Assembly and their committees during the winter for 12-month terms, meaning first-year students do not have any representation within the governing body of the MSU. FYC attempts to fill that void.
Last year, much of FYC’s structure changed to make up for the shutdown of the Inter-Residence Council in 2016 following an internal audit. The IRC was a student council who represented students living in residence and worked with the Residence Life to enact change. IRC was largely responsible for material changes to residence improvements, such as the extended Centro hours during the exam periods.
Following the IRC’s dissolution, FYC took on their roles. They introduced residence councillors, who act as a mini IRC within the larger FYC body.
FYC focuses on advocacy, mentorship, event planning and volunteering. They often collaborate with other MSU services such as Spark and the Maroons to hold events for first-year students. During the MSU presidential campaign in 2017, FYC held “meet the candidates” events in residence to introduce first-year students to MSU politics.
In particular, FYC held a formal in conjunction with Spark in November, first-year Olympics and a paint night with the Maroons.
Hazra Chowdhury, the FYC coordinator, hopes to continue the advocacy and events of their predecessors. She is currently working with Kevin Beatty of Residence Life to create consultation committees within residence. Her main goal is to make the committees more efficient and effective, by first condensing the original six committees into four and working on communication between both FYC and Residence Life.
“The six committees that were in place last year had been in place with the IRC for a very long time, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been the most effective,” said Chowdhury.
In addition, Chowdhury hopes to work with Residence Life, particularly residence orientation representatives, to put on more programming throughout the year.
“This year we’ll be extending [the programming] but I know that as a first year it’s difficult to run an event when you’re the only chair,” Chowdhury said.
“Since RORs this year have a full year contract and community advisors are there to help, it’s a part of the alternate programming committee; those RORs will help students put on events throughout the year,” she added.
As the election results are tallied, one can expect FYC to continue to do work throughout the school year to support first-year students and have their voices heard within the union.