UMSU highlights plans for new semester

Graphic by Dallin Chicoine, staff

University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) board members discussed preparations for a new semester at the University of Manitoba during their most recent board meeting last Thursday.

Issues discussed included the return to in-person classes, as well as a proposal to restore international students’ health care.

UMSU president Jaron Rykiss said the union is “doing a lot” to prepare for in-person classes and activities to resume in the fall.

“The name of the game for us this year is really making sure that students have the resources that they need to return back to classes,” he said.

“Not only are students going to be confused because we have three cohorts of students who have not experienced life on campus thus far, but students are going to be anxious, right?” Rykiss stressed the importance of UMSU providing resources for students experiencing mental health struggles.

He said members had been chosen for the mental health working group, commenting during the meeting that they had received over 60 applications, and that UMSU was looking to partner with other organizations to provide mental health support.

Additionally, UMSU’s course delivery mode working group will offer students a way to conduct classes both safely and conveniently by offering in-person, online and blended course options. UMSU is also preparing its proposal for an international students’ health care policy after the PC government removed international students from the Manitoba health care system in 2018.

The union’s campaign will advocate for the province to provide free health care for international students once again.

This contrasts with UMSU’s stance last year, which proposed to allow international students to buy into Manitoba’s health care, a position that the union pragmatically adopted due to the Manitoba government’s apparent unwillingness to reinstate universal health care for international students.

Representatives from UMSU recently met with Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Jon Reyes to discuss the need to address international students’ health care. They are working to co-ordinate another meeting regarding the issue at the end of August. UMSU would be willing to collaborate with the provincial government if it is receptive to the proposal, but is prepared to hold a month of action to pressure them if it is not.

“We really want to highlight the fact that international students get overlooked a lot of the time, so we’re looking to create an international student welcome guide,” said Rykiss.

“We’re meeting with our marketing team to make sure it looks great and reads easily,” said Rykiss.

Rykiss also highlighted the importance of providing support and information to domestic students.

He added that he hopes to draw attention to “the fun stuff” of campus life such as orientation events, concerts and finding new friends and com- munity “that can surround them for their next three or four years or more at the campus.”

“We’re looking to have a street party on UMSU street one of the days [and] we’re looking to have a concert at the Burton Cummings Theatre,” he said.

Rykiss said UMSU was also planning a festival to showcase local music and vendors, adding that more information about the concert at Burton Cummings would be available soon.