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Vol 39  No 1
Aug. 10, 2006


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Student’s Union does not break for summer

By Jon Carpenter
Special to the Gazette

Summer doesn’t mean things slow down for MUNSU President Katherine Giroux-Bougard (left) and Vice-President External Stella Magalios. The two are hard at work ensuring the following academic semesters meet the expectations of returning students. (Photo by Jeff Green)

In spring, when exams are finished at Memorial, some 9,000 students depart their classrooms for a deserved break from academics and a chance to soak up the sun. Life at the St. John’s campus, however, does not slow down.

According the Office of the Registrar, about 7,900 students continue classes during the summer months. Likewise, MUN’s Students’ Union is also hard at work ensuring the following academic semesters meet the expectations of returning students.

During their fourth day on the job, President Katherine Giroux-Bougard and Vice-President External Stella Magalios were busy planning their first council meeting for 2006 and brainstorming ideas about the upcoming academic year.

“The summer days are very different than the fall semesters, but we still work 30-hour weeks, managing finances and our student services,” said Ms. Giroux-Bougard.

“All summer we’re putting ideas on paper and planning events for orientation, how we’re going to structure our committees and a lot of housekeeping duties that got pushed aside in the previous administration. The provincial elections are also approaching, so we’re planning events towards putting pressure on government for reducing tuition fees,” she added.

The Students’ Union is composed of 36 elected representatives including five executive members, who represent 13,000 undergraduate students at the St. John’s campus. The five executive members, including the president, VP external, VP internal, VP academic and the Arts representative, are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the union, including managing its services and implementing its campaign strategies.

Ms. Giroux-Bougard, a fourth-year political science major, was elected Student Union president during the general elections in March. Her official term began on the first of May. She is now the primary liaison between the union and university administration, while assisting other executive members with their duties. Ms. Magalios, on the other hand, is the spokesperson of the union and represents the views of the union to administration, government and the media.

Ms. Giroux-Bougard explained: “We usually tell people the student union has two main goals; we’re part services and part advocacy. We do the day-to-day management of some of the services around campus for things like student resource centres, the Copy Centre, the used bookstore, Walk Safe and Drive safe programs,” adding The Muse student newspaper and CHMR radio also fall under the jurisdiction of the union.

“The advocacy work that we do is basically sticking up for student’s rights and making sure that students aren’t being taken advantage of,” added Ms. Magalios.

“Part of the work that the president and the vice-president do in the office is things like academic appeals, student loan appeals and making sure that students are being treated fairly. Some of the most important advocacy work that we do is lobbying for accessible funding for post-secondary education,” said Ms. Magalios

The union is also responsible for recognizing and ratifying the more than 80 clubs and societies, which are still operating on campus during the summer. The clubs can range from an academic specialty, leisure activities to religious affiliations. The union provides funding to the clubs as well as helping establish their guidelines.

Because the union is a full-time job, Ms. Giroux-Bougard said that in order to balance the heavy workload, academics usually becomes a part-time endeavour.

“But it’s also very rewarding,” she said. “Being part of the student union and the student movement is something I am very proud of. I worked as an executive council member last year specializing in academic appeals for students. It’s very rewarding to know you can make even a small difference in someone’s life, just by giving them your help.”

While half of Memorial’s student population is pursuing other interests this summer, they can take comfort in knowing their union is hard at work to ensure their experience at Memorial is a positive one.

Jon Carpenter is a student currently enrolled in CompuCollege's Public Relations Graduate Diploma Program in St. John's.

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