Laurier Students’ Union gives public update

Annie Constantinescu gave an overview of what the Students' Union has been up to for the past few months. (Heather Davidson)

Annie Constantinescu gave an overview of what the Students’ Union has been up to for the past few months. (Heather Davidson)

On the evening of Sept. 25, members of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union congregated in the Concourse for their first “State of the Union” event. The event, which will be happening monthly on both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses, is meant to be a venue for the Students’ Union to practice transparency and provide a forum for students to get engaged.

Annie Constantinescu, president and CEO of the Students’ Union, began the night with an update on what the union has been working on over the summer months and into the fall.

Following this, she and other members of the union were interviewed by The Cord’s editor-in-chief, Justin Smirlies. In addition to Smirlies’ questions, students were asked to submit questions by email, on Twitter or in-person at the event.

One question posed through Twitter inquired about fall reading days at Laurier. Constantinescu touched on the fact that the first-year experience task force has been looking at how fall reading days would impact the first-year experience.

“However, while that’s going on we do realize there is a need for something that will identify and attempt to improve mental health, as it is becoming a more prominent issue,” she said.

According to Constantinescu, studies have shown a fall break to have a positive impact on mental health.

“How it will look at the Laurier campus, again, we’re very different; we have a smaller group of students,” she continued. “So we’re really trying to identify a solution that will cater the most appropriately to our campus and then the Brantford campus as well.”

Jordan Epstein, chair of the board, responded to one of Smirlies’ questions about how the Students’ Union is approaching reviewing the strategic plan.

“One thing that we were very adamant about when we started the strategic planning process is that we are going to the students — we’re going to be sending out comprehensive surveys, we’re going to ask all the students for feedback,” Epstein said. “We want as many as we can get. The big part there is that we didn’t want to come into this strategic planning process with presumptions about what students want.”

Other topics touched on were the Students’ Union’s debt, the recently-enforced lockdown of the Science building, as well as multi-campus governance.

The chairs set out in the Concourse were far from full during the event and, outside of Twitter and a question from a director, there was only one student who engaged in-person.

Andres Melendez, a third-year psychology student, gave what he called “a rant” at the end of the event, expressing his opinions on what was discussed.

His first contention was with Orientation-Week.

“Somebody said previously that o-week is like a bit of a comfort for the homesick, but honestly I think that’s just kind of bullshit,” he commented. “Because I think that it was a little bit overwhelming, like they were kind of coked out or something. I found that a lot of the activities were rowdy and they were generally geared towards an extroverted crowd.”

Melendez also expressed that not enough awareness is brought to mental health.

He explained that he decided to talk at the event due to a survey he filled out from the Students’ Union.

“I think that it would be stupid to fill out a survey and not give reasons to that- not actually explain myself of why I’m disappointed with certain things or why I’m happy with certain things,” he said.
Constantinescu felt that it was a good opportunity to reach out to students who might not otherwise engage with the union.

“I’m not going to lie, some of the questions- didn’t catch me off guard- but it was interesting to see that that’s what some students were thinking about,” said Constantinescu of the event. “Even the individual who spoke at the end- he showed so much passion and [gave a] perspective on big issues that we have heard a little about, but again we’re curious to find out more.”

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