The Inter-Residence Council will soon undergo structural changes which were determined at an executive meeting on March 9.
After the IRC’s announcement of a hiatus in early December, the group has been relatively quiet, with a new focus on conducting research on how to better the organization.
“We’ve been working together at least once a week since mid-November or so, and often more than once a week since mid-January, trying to figure out the best way to set up IRC for success into the future,” said Michael Porritt, Director of Housing and Conference Services.
As a result of this research, the IRC has determined that it needs to take more of an advocacy approach, provide more opportunities for students to get involved, and focus on training and assessment.
The need for advocacy will see a new vice-president in advocacy and leadership development on the IRC.
“[The IRC survey] feedback, combined with feedback from the other housing surveys from previous years really highlighted the need, and also with discussions, that we need a bigger focus on advocacy and training, hence the new VP position,” said Porritt. The new VP will be elected in the spring for the 2015-2016 school year.
A second structural change will occur within the residences themselves. The current model of two residence representatives will be replaced by one Hall President assigned to each residence.
“Their main role would be to advocate for students in their building and on their behalf,” said Nisha Depa, VP Communications and President-Elect of the IRC. “They would collect opinions in their building and come to a council meeting where the other representatives and other hall presidents [are] and voice their opinions on behalf of their students.”
Several unpaid roles will be added as well, in an attempt to provide more leadership opportunities to first-year and residence students. Currently, it is proposed that four vice-president roles will be created in each residence.
“[The vice-president] is more of a leadership position, and it’s a little more time consuming than just being a floor leader,” said Gurteg Singh, incoming VP Communications.
The IRC is also re-focusing on conducting more assessment about student needs. The research methods that were conducted this year will be continued in years to follow.
“Especially with the student population that we now have in residence – it’s almost all first-year students – that also means it’s almost a completely new group of students every year,” said Porritt. “We really have to be much more intentional about assessing what the students want as opposed to what they need, and then who’s best placed to provide it, and sometimes in partnerships to do that because the population has changed so drastically.”
With this new plan in place, the IRC will move forward with electing a new VP advocacy and leadership development and Hall Presidents for each residence.
However it is still unclear whether these new plans will be successful, or what it will cost students.
“The budget that was submitted in January was before [the March 9] meeting, so we’re definitely going to have to re-work our budget based on the changes that have been made,” said Depa.
In the 2014-2015 year, the IRC spent $68,592 in honourariums for representatives, president, vice-presidents, speaker, and other positions, while $36,100 was spent on residence programming.
This year’s budget is yet to be finalized due to the new structural changes, but the reduction of residence representatives and more volunteer opportunities could be a good sign.
Another relatively large expense is the IRC clipboard, which costs the IRC $17,000 of the promotional budget.
“We haven’t specifically gotten into that yet, and the clipboards were passed out first term I think, so for this year it’s kind of a done deal anyways. And the yearbook coordinator has been in place and working hard all year, so this year will be a typical yearbook year,” said Porritt regarding the status of the clipboards. “Those two items and just in general what the budget says about what the organizational priorities are – that’s been discussed a lot.”
Though some things are still to be determined, it seems the IRC’s new vision is becoming clearer. It will involve a move to better fulfill its purpose, which was to provide advocacy and programming for residence students.
“We’re just starting with our re-structuring,” said Depa. “We’ve done a lot of changes since council meetings have started up again and we do have a couple of months left for this year, so we’re looking to definitely make further structural changes.”