ResSoc teams seek student involvement

GCS and LCG both look to engage more students in society

From left: Segen Mehreteab, Greg Radisic and Cole Smith.
From left: Segen Mehreteab, Greg Radisic and Cole Smith.
Photo: 
From left: Leo Liu, Emily Gjos and Marianne Cameron.
From left: Leo Liu, Emily Gjos and Marianne Cameron.
Photo: 

Both teams running for Residence Society (ResSoc) executive are aiming to get more students involved in the society.

Team GCS believes ResSoc can be innovated and improved on, while prioritizing student wellness and engagement.

The team is one of two teams running for ResSoc executive this year. Last year, one team ran unopposed.

The team, all ArtSci ’17, includes Presidential candidate Greg Radisic, Vice Presidential (Resident Affairs) candidate Cole Smith, and Vice Presidential (Judicial Affairs) candidate Segen Mehreteab.

GCS’s platform is structured as a ‘pentagon’, with an emphasis on Dialogue, Sustainability, Engagement, Stability and Evolution.

Mehreteab and Radisic met in their frosh week, and found Smith through their ResSoc participation.

Radisic, House President of Watts Hall and member of the Residence Society Elections Committee, said ResSoc has the ability to make changes for the better, being a fairly new society.

ResSoc’s first executive election was in 2013, after Main Council Residents’ Society (MCRS) and Jean Royce Hall Council (JRHC) amalgamated.

“We have the tools in front of us to implement change,” Radisic said.

“It’s about finding efficiencies within the society and really ensuring that we’re running smoothly and effectively as we can.”

Radisic said simple restructuring within the society will prevent too many positions from overlapping.

Positions will have more clear-cut roles, Team GCS’s platform explains, making sure volunteers aren’t in a situation where someone has already completed their work.

“Just by restructuring a little bit internally and not even doing anything overly drastic … [is] an easy way right there to help lower [a] deficit,” Radisic said.

The team is also looking to implement a “Smart Waste” program, building off initiatives that Smith already implemented this year.

Smith, as House President of Leonard Hall, worked with Queen’s Enactus to provide funding for 60 green bins for the residence along with two larger compost bins provided by the Sustainability Office at Queen’s.

Smith said residences produce more garbage than is necessary.

“One of our big plans was to just get organics and waste protocol in order,” he said. “Queen’s has in place existing infrastructure for taking away organic waste, but right now our residences aren’t collecting it.”

Working with other on-campus groups, as well as the University, will help fund Smart Waste, Team GCS’s platform states.

Mehreteab, the Residence Facilitator in Morris Hall, said mental health awareness is important to bring to residence.

She added that, if elected, the team hopes to work with groups such as the Mental Health Awareness Committee (MHAC) in order to address mental health preventatively.

Ultimately, she said ResSoc needs to connect better with students.

“It seems like ResSoc is a negative, where they get you into trouble… that shouldn’t be the case. It should be something that everyone wants to get involved in.”

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ResSoc could benefit from increased communication between staff, better training and stability, according to Team LCG. Team LCG consists of Presidential candidate Emily Gjos, Vice Presidential (Residence Affairs) candidate Marianne Cameron and Vice Presidential (Judicial Affairs) candidate Leo Liu.

After spending their first year at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) together, Gjos and Cameron, both ArtSci ’16, believe their experience abroad helped them understand the need to build a “home away from home” while in residence.

“The main thing about our platform is the stability of the society,” said Gjos, currently the House President in Harkness Hall.

She said maintaining and improving ResSoc for the future is a priority.

“It’s stabilizing the finances and the future of the residency society … making sure that everything is accountable and transparent.” Improved staff training is a part of the “accountability” section of Team LCG’s platform. Gjos said if elected the team will aim to check in with staff throughout the year to ensure they’re prepared, instead of only checking in at the start of the year.

Staff training itself can be improved through bi-weekly staff meetings, and through examining specific roles in more detail, she said.

“We want to make sure [staff] have more hands-on, scenario-based training, rather than just theoretical,” she said.

Cameron, House President of Chown, said the team is looking to get students more engaged with ResSoc.

“We’re looking to re-vamp our website and be very active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Being able to reach out to a wider audience, we’re hoping to get more students involved,” she said.

She said the team hopes to use social media to increase a general understanding of ResSoc.

Liu, ArtSci ’17, said increased communication between Residence Life and ResSoc would help students better navigate the peer-based conduct system.

If students are written up they deserve transparency regarding that decision, he said.

“If the student receives a letter of responsibility, they have the right to ask for the rational behind the decision,” Liu said.

“It all goes back to the idea that ResSoc is created by students, working for students. That’s where all the ideas of accountability and engagement all stem from.”

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