University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union executive team launched new initiatives for affordability and to ease campus groups’ transition online.
The projects include a new USSU Groups Office, a new Campus Group Management System and an amended Campus Groups Policy.
Jamie Bell, vice-president operations and finance, now in his second year at the position, says that he was familiar with the policy and knew that he wanted to make it easily comprehensible and more organized.
“It was at a point where I really just wanted to start on a blank canvas and create something new. We rewrote the whole thing from cover to cover,” Bell said.
The project officially started on May 1, with the amendment to the policy happening on May 25, but Bell says that “in some ways the project has been ongoing for three years.”
Bell emphasized the changes made for affordability in the new policy. New campus groups now have a grace period to pay their ratification fee and there is an early bird discount for existing student groups that applied before September.
“I didn’t want students to pay for things out of pocket,” Bell said.
Other changes to the policy include more affordable insurance and revising the granting structure by creating two grants instead of one. Another change that is still in progress is the Group Orientation and Leadership Session, which will provide orientation and training to all student groups.
GOALS is a collaboration between the USSU and the university. Bell says that they are developing training modules for issues that campus groups face. It will also be used to train campus groups toward cultural awareness. This course will not be mandatory this year, but Bell plans on changing that for next year and onwards.
“There are issues around power dynamics and manipulation. So, [GOALS] is a harm-prevention strategy [for] taking active steps into harassment prevention,” Bell said. “How to do tasks and building some competencies related to being a group leader [will be covered], but also being a responsible member of the campus community as well.”
Another new development, the social media and newsletter initiative UGO, will contain important information for campus groups such as directories and contact information for navigating through different supports offered by the USSU.
“In essence, it is a more focused and intentional way of supporting student groups at the university,” Bell said. “Moving forward, it provides the opportunity for growth.”
The CGMS will serve as a database for students and student groups. Students can browse and view what different groups are doing whereas campus groups will have all the resources they need in one place. They can apply for ratification and insurance, and request advertising for events within the system.
“So [they] can do all of these things that would normally be done in any kind of separate form so it might be difficult to find. But it’s just another way that everything is much more organized,” Bell said.
“And then it will also maintain a record from year to year so it will be easier for applications being submitted in the future. They will feel a little bit less like starting from scratch every year — [they’ll] have all the documentation in the file.”
Wardah Anwar | News Editor
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