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The MSU Board of Directors hosted their annual State of the Union address on Jan. 20 and touched on a number of topics pertaining to student life, including exam upgrades, Frost Week and mental health.

The meeting opened with a basic rundown of the purpose and mission statement of the MSU. The Board of Directors took this time to detail their responsibilities and to highlight their respective accomplishments since taking office in May 2014.

The Board of Directors then touched upon areas of focus as they pertain to student life, including:

  • “Exam upgrades” in extended gym and Thode hours closer to exams,
  • Increased attendance and programs at Frost Week
  • The new Learning, Information, Networking, and Knowledge Conference (LINK)
  • Off-campus safety measures
  • Participatory budgeting by altering the Student Life Enhancement Fund (SLEF)
  • Welcome Week efforts
  • New MSU services Spark and WGEN
  • Risk management implementations for the MSU

Out of these, the Frost Week and new services were given the most attention.

“I think everybody has a different definition,” said MSU President Teddy Saull.  “But what we have been striving do to this year is to look for on-the-ground impact, where they’re actually going to feel it, so something like a Frost Week or a Homecoming or a program, something that students will feel readily on their educational experience.”

Mental health was a large discussion point in the “Advocacy & Community” section of the presentation. The Board discussed the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, the upcoming Student Mental Health and Wellness Strategy from McMaster administration, the yearly mental health awareness campaign, and the creation of a Trauma Counsellor and a Response Coordinator.

The sections pertaining to MSU Finance and Communication both expressed a desire and priority to discuss issues with students as clearly as possible to increase the possibility of feedback for MSU initiatives. While their YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook numbers have all grown within the last year, this remains a point of interest for the organization.

While these systems do exist, more could be done to embrace and better use these both within the organization and to communicate to the rest of the students.

“We have a wonderful reach on social media,” said Saull.

The health referendum, in comparison, was barely discussed, with the interpretation that people already knew enough about the motion going forward.

“I’m sure everybody is aware what’s going on,” said Scott Mallon, VP (Finance).

The only question during the main presentation was regarding Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s visit, communication, and the potential “paternalistic” relationship between the MSU and the wider community given the perceived restrictions placed on this visit.

Saull gave a hesitant and convoluted answer, explaining that the MSU made various attempts to extend access to clubs. His answer drew murmurs of dissatisfaction from the audience.

For more extensive information about The State of the Union, the full document can be downloaded here. You can also view all of the Prezi slides.

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