Vice President of Student Life Megan Rix has announced a significant change to the Student Unionâ€™s sole first-year engagement initiative.
The Future Executive Development Program will be transferred to the Recruitment and International Relations Office (RIRO) for the current academic year. As part of the transfer, the program will now be exclusively offered to international students.
The program was launched in 2015 to connect first-year students with clubs and to provide skills training to those who sought to become club executives. Upon successful completion of the program, clubs were eligible for an operating grant ranging from $100 to $200.
According to Rix, the RIRO expressed interest in running the program. International Student Advisor Richelle Greathouse was blunt about the officeâ€™s involvement, saying that the program would have â€œdiedâ€ if the RIRO did not take over.
Difficulty With Recruitment Cited as Reason for Switch
According to Rix, recruitment for the program has been difficult. Last year, Rix, then the SUâ€™s clubs coordinator, had to ask two of her friends, SU councillors Kali Ross and Erin MacNeil, to participate in the program. Rix approached clubs about the program but said they claimed to have no first-year students or did not reply to her communications.
However, Greathouse was optimistic about recruitment. She states that numerous international students have approached her to participate in the program.
Program Will See Number of Changes Under RIRO
The RIRO will have full control in delivering the program and intends to make changes. Greathouse revealed that in addition to the in-person sessions, training will now include an online component.
Participants in the program will still be eligible for a $100 grant, which can go toward any event they plan. However, the SU will cease to provide funding to the program; instead, the funding will come from the RIRO. Rix said that funding formerly used to support the program would go towards funding other clubs initiatives.
Consequently, the program will narrow its focus and eligibility to international students. Any clubs with an international focus will be eligible for the program, with first- and second-year students being considered as ideal participants.
Move To Be Reviewed
Although the program will be delivered by the RIRO for the 2017/18 academic year, the change is not considered to be permanent at the moment. Rix stated at the September 10th Council meeting that she intends to bring the issue back to Council at the end of the year to discuss whether the SU should take back the program or end it officially.
Greathouse hoped that the program would return to the SU in the coming semester and that the program would be open to everyone.
Rix has said that in the interim, she will consider the development of a new initiative for first-year engagement. No timeline has been given for that initiative to be brought forward.
By: Iain Burhoe
Photo: Iain Burhoe