The St. Thomas University Students’ Union will work on Indigenization efforts, hold a liberal arts jobs fair, and seek to increase student engagement in societies and committees, among other plans for the new school year.
STUSU president Philippe Ferland said one of his main focuses is working to facilitate Indigenization. This refers to incorporating the cultures, histories, and languages of Indigenous peoples at the university. His efforts were inspired by a talk as part New Brunswick Student Alliance training.
“We’ve had a lot of issues around the Indigenous representative position, and this was my attempt to repair those issues and get Indigenous students more involved,” he said. “Because after the previous year, it seemed the students’ union was very much icy with the Indigenous community.”
Last year’s newly implemented Indigenous representative was impeached for not attending meetings, and candidates were disqualified from the election for being under the age of 19.
Ferland will be lobbying the provincial government in November for legislation that would support initiatives towards Indigenization. He also recently convened a committee of Indigenous students and a few non-Indigenous students to work on planning events for this October, including a film screening, a lecture on cultural appropriation and a panel discussion on Canada 150.
The panel will be held on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Off Campus Lounge. The other dates and time have yet to be determined.
In second semester, Ferland will be spearheading a campaign encouraging students to ask for each other’s pronouns. He went through the STUSU bylaws over the summer and reworded them to be gender neutral.
“There was a big issue made about that last year, especially with trans students during the election when they were receiving the nomination forms to sign up,” Ferland said. The forms had asked candidates to “write his or her name.”
UN Sustainable Development Conference
Vice-president student life Jimy Beltran is planning a United Nations Sustainable Development Conference on Oct. 21.
Beltran said that a UN delegate will come speak at the conference. There will also be non-governmental organization booths, six skill development sessions and problem solving sessions in Kinsella Auditorium.
Beltran is also planning activities designed to raise awareness around sexual assault. Events include a Take Back The Night rally in downtown Fredericton and the use of theatre to convey the impact of sexual assault.
Vice-president administration Matt LeBlanc is serving as student chair of the Campus Trust—the organization that provides health insurance to students. He is the first New Brunswick student to hold the chair position.
“That’s my biggest plan for the year. I’m concerned with this organization that is dealing with 13 universities’ health plans, from Alberta to P.E.I.,” LeBlanc said.
Experimental learning, sexual violence prevention, flag hall
Vice-president education Brianna Workman will lead sexual violence prevention strategies and expand experiential learning opportunities for students.
“You see in a lot of STEM programs you go in, you already have a co-op, an internship ingrained in your program, and we don’t see that as often in arts programs,” she said.
Other projects Workman is planning include: an international opportunities fair, advertising exchange and study abroad programs and a housing fair that includes education on tenants rights. She is also working with the university and international students association to establish a flag hall—a room that has flags from every nation represented by students, that would change each year.
“That will be a really beautiful addition to our campus, really add some colour and some life, and really support internationalization on campus,” Workman said.