The University of Manitoba Students’ Union held its first in-person board meeting this year on Aug. 18. UMSU president Jaron Rykiss said it felt great to meet with the board of directors and share some of the things the executive commit- tee has been working on.
The weekend before the meeting, the entire executive committee attended the Student Union Development Summit (SUDS) at the University of British Columbia.
A few days prior to SUDS, UMSU vice-president advocacy Victoria Romero and Rykiss also attended the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) policy and strategy conference at the University of Calgary.
Rykiss explained that recently approved CASA policies and action plans will aim to address student issues like mental health supports and student aid, as well as housing and food security. He said these plans will be presented to ministers of federal government in Ottawa in November.
Rykiss also revealed that UMSU is in the early stages of developing strategies to improve reach for the Hire a Bison campaign which is a student marketplace for sharing info and resources, and that they are attempting to find ways to simplify parking for students at the U of M’s Bannatyne campus. He also met with U of M administrators to discuss opportunities to increase financial aid for international students.
The UMSU president said that plans are in motion to update the union’s website and governing documents.
Rykiss explained that this year is all about making sure that UMSU’s governing documents and election manuals are clearly comprehensible.
This is something he said has been put off for several years.
Another priority for the UMSU president is the international student guide. Scheduled to be released in January, Rykiss said the document will help increase resource accessibility, optimize the university experience and make it easier for students to connect.
UMSU’s main goal for the guide according to Rykiss is making sure that the information is easy to read and comprehend.
Other UMSU executives had a lot to declare as well.
Vice-president advocacy Victoria Romero announced that UMSU as well as other student unions from Alberta and Saskatchewan were in the process of creating MAPSS Prairie Advocacy, an inter-provincial advocacy initiative
that will address student issues across the three provinces.
Tracy Karuhogo, vice-president student life, revealed that beginning in September, the UMSU hardship fund, a financial fund for students in desperate need, will undergo restructuring to “increase accountability into how money is spent” by recipients.
Vice-president finance and operations Brook Rivard highlighted the first event at VW’s, a wedding, as well as the opening of a new bubble tea shop in IQ’s named “Boba.”
Elishia Ratel, vice-president com- munity engagement, shared news regarding the newly coined Bison Bash. Formerly known as “Frosh,” Bison Bash will feature events and festivities organized by UMSU from Sept. 12 to 17.
When asked why UMSU determined a name change was necessary, Ratel explained that the goal was to make the annual event safer and more inclusive for all students.
“[Frosh is] a gendered term first of all that means freshman, so we wanted to eliminate that barrier there and make it accessible for all types of people,” said Ratel.
“Also, there’s just been a negative culture with a lot of Frosh events,” she said.
“We wanted to remove that idea that’s surrounding Frosh events, and make it a new culture of safety for students and something they can really enjoy.”
This new attitude toward the event extends past the new student-voted name. Security measures and resources that address sexual violence will be implemented to protect students. Bison Bash will also feature events throughout the week that are alcohol-free, something Ratel hopes will attract students who prefer a more laid-back experience.
A bounce house, karaoke night and an outdoor movie will make up the first three days of Bison Bash. A night market, silent disco and the UMSU street party, an event that showcases UMSU businesses, will close out the week. On Sept. 17, a concert at the Burton Cummings theatre is the final event of Bison Bash.
In 2019, hip-hop artists YG and Tyga headlined UMSU’s Frosh event. When asked who this year’s headliner may be Ratel stayed tight-lipped, saving the announcement for a later date.
All she was willing to say was that one of the artists is popular on TikTok.