A new academic year brings a new St. Thomas University Student Union executive team with a vision and plans to help students.
In its priorities document, STUSU outlined five pillars described as “overarching goals” for the 2023-24 academic year. The Aquinian reached out to STUSU’s executives to explain how their goals and initiatives will serve the students.
Reconciliation of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous People
Stevie DeMerchant, the first Indigenous STUSU president, said this is one of STUSU’s top priorities.
“Reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous students is crucial as it nurtures understanding, respect and unity,” she said. “By acknowledging and embracing the rich culture and perspectives of indigenous communities, we create an inclusive educational environment that fosters empathy, dialogue and collaboration.”
She said STUSU executives are committed to working closely with the St. Thomas Reconciliation Committee, the Senate Committee of Reconciliation and the Wabanaki Student Center.
“Together, we can build a future where mutual appreciation and shared experiences pave the way for a truly harmonious society,” said DeMerchant.
According to DeMerchant, this year will be focused on the value of fine and liberal arts aiming to reach as many students as they can.
The fine and liberal arts campaign is about raising awareness and what it means to be a graduate with a liberal arts degree.
“People in society and government, question the value of [a Liberal Arts degree],” they said. “Are you just going to be a teacher? Or are you just going to be like a social worker, there’s more to it than just that, there’s critical thinking, we have lawyers coming out of here.”
Isabella Baralt, the vice president of student life, said that she wants to bring in-person campaigns back to life after COVID-19. This is the first year without COVID-19 regulations.
“We also plan an increase in mental health services to advocate for mental health and support for the students,” said Baralt.
Enhancement of the student experience & supporting student growth
DeMerchant said that providing services to students is a main priority. She recognizes that year-to-year one of the main concerns for students is affordability.
“We try to have those resources [emergency bursaries, academic bursaries, universal bus pass, community food smart] set in place to ensure that we can alleviate some of that stress from our students.”
Ahmik Burneo, vice president of administration, said that he knows the huge role that clubs and societies play in the experiences of students at STU.
“We’re looking forward to increasing support for clubs and societies, as well as keeping them well trained in different aspects, for example, budgeting, event planning and how to keep an active club or society,” said Burneo.
Burneo emphasized his desire to bring the community together through several activities such as the Winter Formal, Halloween event and other surprise events.
“Get ready,” said Burneo.
Transparency & Accountability
Burneo said that he spent the whole summer redesigning the STUSU’s website so the students can have easy access to detailed information.
“We’re ensuring that along with our new director of communications, to enhance STUSU’s visibility through social media as well,” said Burneo.
He remarked on the importance that the team feels for being an open, reachable, and reliable group that the students feel comfortable with.
DeMerchant said as per their 2023-24 priority document they are committed to sustainability “through events and daily operations.”
STUSU will work collectively with the university to create a recycling plan for residents and work closely with Divest STU to amplify their concerns and advocate for a more sustainable campus.
The STUSU team has a mission for the 2023-24 school year on top of their “overarching goals.”
“Ensuring that the time you have at STU is safe, you’re heard and you’re enjoying your time,” said DeMerchant.
The Aquinian contacted Emily Boucher through the executive team, but she could not provide an interview due to health issues.