Mature students’ rep moves to expand portfolio

If passed, motion will change position to also represent part-time students

Part-time students may finally be represented in UMSU chambers if a motion introduced Thursday is passed.

The motion, introduced by mature students’ representative Sharlene MacCoy, proposes expanding her portfolio to include part-time students. It will be voted on at the next Feb. 28 board meeting.

MacCoy is the first person to take on the mature students’ representative position, which she had a primary role in establishing last year.

She said she should have included part-time students in the role’s responsibilities earlier.

“It was an oversight,” she said. “I brought the actual position to UMSU last year, I guess, and it was an oversight on my part. I just said mature students.”

There is currently no UMSU board member tasked with representing part-time students. The UMSU board was open to the idea immediately, according to MacCoy.

“The board has been great and they’ve been including part-time students — which I think is more accurate and more inclusive and it kinds of includes everyone, so I wanted to make sure that it got added,” she said.

MacCoy said she believes placing mature and part-time students under a single representative makes sense because the two groups have significant overlap.

“They kind of tend to have very similar demographic or similar circumstances, right. If you’re part-time there’s probably a reason,” she said.

“It’s usually you either have kids, or you’re working, and it’s very similar to a mature student too, you either have kids, you’re working. So it kind of ends up being one and the same anyway, but then that way it also kind of catches the outliers that don’t quite fit under that umbrella of mature students.”

Part-time and mature students often face similar academic struggles and are eligible for similar government assistance — an example being the Skills Boost program launched by the federal government for the 2018-19 academic year that provides special supports to part-time students and students with children, many of whom are considered mature students.

Should the motion pass, MacCoy said she hopes the shift in her responsibilities will foster a sense of community between the two groups on campus.

“I’m hoping that I can get mature students and part-time students out to do things, and build a community,” she said.

“Because I know it’s harder when you’re only here part-time to meet people, so I’m hoping that knowing that they have a rep that’s on UMSU for them that they will maybe bring some concerns forward or things we can do to make it better for them and for everybody.”

With more duties, the workload of the position will likely increase and McCoy is planning to reach out to perspective members in the next few months.

“I am just starting the role and it’s almost the end of the year already, so how much I’m going to get done this year is just trying to get a community group started, getting a membership base, getting surveys out to people, all of that, that’s my workload probably until the end of I would say March probably,” said MacCoy.

“It’s going to take me that long, and nothing, other than that, will probably start until I would think the fall. And then depending on how many students are interested, how engaged they are, the workload could get humongous, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.”

MacCoy said that she will be running for the mature students’ representative position again in the upcoming UMSU elections, regardless of whether or not the position’s role changes.

“I feel like I just got started and it’s the end of the year already,” she said.

“I’m definitely going to run again. I’m pretty excited about it.”