Commentary  An asset for first years

The vital role of the First Year Council

The First Year Council (FYC) of the Students’ Society of McGill University is a democratic body that represents the concerns of all 5,891 students in their first year at McGill. The FYC consists of six executive members, two of whom chair their respective Events and Academic portfolios. The FYC’s role is to serve a diverse community of students in ensuring their successful integration and transition into university. We are an important resource available for students in terms of advocacy, because we are the only council that represents students beyond the scope of divisions such as residence, age, academic term, or program. It is our job to bring together solutions to large, overarching issues faced by the first-year body. The FYC’s primary mandate is to aid first-year students in the significant changes when coming to university – both academic and social.

A major part of our mandate is to collaborate and communicate with the many first-year organizations representing various faculties and groups of students. The FYC aims to promote and facilitate coordination between all representative sources. We serve as a political and administrative body for first years. The FYC also votes in the SSMU Council with the responsibility of having our vote represent the best interests of first years. If we should feel that our vote will fail to represent the best interests of first years, we will either abstain from voting or poll first-year students regarding what position to take. As an example of our efforts to represent students to the administration, this year, FYC is looking into how students feel about mandatory advanced standing credits at McGill.

As one of the representative voices for all first-year students at McGill, FYC is eager to advocate for changes to be made to improve the academic experience during the difficult transition year into university. In particular, this year FYC has chosen to focus on improving McGill’s advising structure to ensure first-year students feel informed, supported, and guided while making all the complicated decisions that will greatly impact their future. With the help of the First-Year Office and various other student-based groups, we hope to ensure that all first years feel they have access to the resources they need to make the choices that are best for them.

This year, the FYC is creating a website which will include a suggestion box where students can send in their opinions and questions. We will also have regular polls regarding SSMU political issues and other campus changes. We are also working specifically on improving support for off-campus students and international students. The FYC is working to set up a tighter-knit social support system for off-campus students, which will include one-on-one relationship building.

The council organizes events and collaborates with other first-year representative groups. This year, the Council will be coordinating an inter-faculty event in February. In December, the FYC organized an event for all all first year students, where they could receive free massages to relieve their exam time stress. The FYC is also working on an apartment crawl event in the springtime with other councils so that first-year students can have a better understanding of Montreal’s housing scene.

The First Year Council has a strong commitment to transparency. All our finances, meeting minutes, and meetings are open to the public. To stay in touch, the First Year Council sends out regular listservs through the McGill email system. Our email,, is eagerly awaiting any communication it may receive. Like us on Facebook to stay connected!