Commentary | What is the FYC (First Year Council?)

Attention all first years! If this is your first year at McGill, your interests are represented by the First Year Council. We are a SSMU service composed of six first year students that are publicly elected by and for first years; the elections occured in mid-November, and we’ve been hard at work planning some great events and projects for all of you this semester.

Our job is to represent first years in the McGill community, to help integrate you into McGill life,  to serve as your advocates and guides, and, of course, to plan awesome events for you to enjoy. We are also dedicated to listening to feedback and suggestions from all of you.

As we are dedicated to open and accountable student leadership, we’d like to tell you about some of the things we are planning this year, using the $1500 budget that SSMU provides us with – this is your money, so let us know if you love or hate our ideas!

First, our fabulous events! The FYC is planning two great events this semester. We’ll have the perfect thing for midterm blues: free massages and candy! Then, near the end of the year, we’ll be having a new event: the First Year Formal! You’ll have a chance to help us plan this awesome and fashionable end-of-year bash, the profits of which will go to charity. For this event, we’re working on collaborating with the Inter-Rez Council and the Off Campus Fellows program.

The FYC is dedicated to student advocacy and improved access to information. It’s no secret that McGill is a huge place, but few know of all the great services that are provided  (like the FYC). Additionally, information in such a huge place is daunting to keep up with, and a lot of students don’t know their student or academic rights, or the structures of governance – both student and administrative – that shape the University.

To deal with this, we have two major strategies. The first is a partnership with the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) to produce a generalized version of the excellent AUS First Year Guide. This guide is an AUS publication that contains a lot of the relevant information for first years in Arts. We plan to add information from all the other faculties, revise it and update it and then distribute it – free of charge – to all first years and to new students. We will also be working with the first year office to improve and expand the information available to first years on the new student website.

Our second idea, which will hopefully involve a collaboration between the FYC and other McGill services, is a student advocacy service and a group of students trained to direct students with questions, ideas, or complaints, or who feel their rights have been infringed upon to the right people and services. Together, these two projects will help integrate first years more rapidly into the McGill community, providing them with the tools to make the best of their time here at McGill. There are so many things that McGill has to offer, from clubs and student activism to awesome spots in downtown Montreal.

On the academics side, our VP academics will be creating a study roster for first years this semester, which students will be able to access and add themselves to through one of our future listservs. This resource will be a list of first years by residence, by program, and by class, and will serve as a way from people from the same classes to get into contact and form study groups.

In the spirit of our commitment to truth, accountability, and student activism we decided at the end of last semester to reserve up to $100 for the use of the Independent Student Inquiry Into the Events of November 10, 2011. November 10 was a traumatic day for the McGill community, and the money will help the Inquiry pay for Access to Information requests. These documents will help paint a complete picture of the event.

Last semester may have been crazy – with the strike, protests, and riot police on campus – and it’s all a bit overwhelming for us first years. But we have it on good authority that things aren’t usually this chaotic! It’s obvious that there are many causes that a variety of people are fighting for here at McGill, and that means there are great opportunities to get involved, have your voice heard, and make some changes.

This is the part where we ask for your help! First, we need your suggestions and comments to truly work as your representatives, if you have any ideas, please don’t hesitate to email us! Second, we are going to need a lot of help with our projects this year, so we will be creating three committees: the advocacy committee (which will help us set up the advocacy program), the First Year Guide Committee (which will help research and compile the guide), and the Events Committee (which will help us plan events such as the Formal). If you would like to play a role in these committees, please feel free to email us your name and program, and we’ll get back to you about the first meeting date – this is a great way to get involved, learn about McGill, help your fellow students and to get something to put on your resume (we can act as references). Finally, remember all FYC meetings are open, and we’ll advertise times in the listserv, so feel free to drop in, and please email us with questions, comments, or concerns at fyc@ssmu.mcgill.ca.

Your First Year Council:

David Benrimoh, President

Michael Lessard, VP External

Maymanat Nazari, VP Internal

Mibo Zhao, VP Finance

Sara Chughtai, VP Academics


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