At MAPS, 2015-16 is all about our members. Your Board of Directors have been workin hard to ensure you have access to everything you need to navigate your success.
We have just finished updates to the part-time studen lounge that include:
A variable height workstation
12 Day-use lockers for use by members during office hours
A low cost (free to members) video-conference system that can be used as a virtual meeting room
Reoganization of the office with built-for-purpose millwork to increase floor space and make the office and lounge easier to navigate
We are also updating our website (starting with this page) to make it easier to navigate; and are apply this principle to all of our communications.
We are continuing programs like our mentorship program - which links students with greater campus experience with those who are relatively new to university life.
We are providing any member with a customized tour of campus which includes identification of important university offices as well as practical information like the fastest route to your class and where you can get coffee at break.
We continue to advocate for part-time students to improve access, the part-time experience in the classroom, and will shortly be surveying you about what campus services you want access to.
We are very excited about this year, and as always, we would love to meet you. Please feel free to stop by the office and lounge - we are in room 234 in the student centre.
On behalf of the Board, have a great term!
Jackie Arlen, President
March 18, 2015
Report on 2014
Back to school! Back to school?
Is it just me, or does everyone seem to smile more in the sunshine? Summer was lovely, if a little too cool and a bit too short (as it always is). As we enter September, the countdown to the first day of classes moves into single digits and we are compelled to shift back into a more serious state of mind.
For many part-time students, summer is not much of a break at all. While some of us enjoyed lingering sunsets or sleeping late on the weekend, many others took courses year-round. Whether you spent the last few months relaxing or ‘keeping the pressure on’, I hope that you got what you needed out of this (almost past) summer.
Like you, MAPS is ramping up for the fall. Since approving the Operational Plan in July (you can see a summary of the plan by clicking the link above this message), our team has been working to get new programs and services ready for you. These services include designating MAPS as a pick up location for Campus Store purchases (which will start in late September), arranging for part-time students to ‘opt-in’ to the MSU’s health and dental plan, launching a mentorship program (October), and reaching out to you to get your input on course availability and the creation of an online community (September and October).
None of this would have happened without the support of your volunteer Board of Directors and our very dedicated staff – and I’d like to take this opportunity to all of them for their work so far. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this dynamic and fun group of people who want to make a difference in the lives of part-time students.
Maybe you’d like to join us.
MAPS has many opportunities for you to help make a difference. Because we are all busy, our organization is designed to accommodate volunteering for as little as an hour a month – or more if something is important to you.
There are lots of ways to volunteer. In addition to a few new positions that come with an honorarium, there are opportunities to sit on the Finance and Awards committees, be a mentor, or simply send us a tip or trick that you’ve learned during your time at Mac. How you help your fellow students isn’t as important as making some time to help.
My work at MAPS has shown me how good it feels to make a difference, and that’s a feeling everyone should have. And for those of you who are looking at grad school or want to advance at work, nothing says ‘team player’ better than a person who volunteers (and a letter of reference can sometimes make all the difference…).
Even if you’re not sure what you’d like to do, click on the “volunteering” button above this message (the hand on the right) and fill out the form, or stop in and talk to us. I promise we will find something fun for you to do.
As always, if you’d like to learn more, need help with navigating the university, or if you haven’t visited the Lounge, please stop by! Our Welcome Week Open House is Wednesday September 3rd from 6pm to 8pm (there is more info about on this webpage), or you can stop by anytime. Kim, Malanie, Felice and Kyle are a friendly group and will happily show you the lounge amenities, help you navigate the campus, or help you find the fastest way to get something done.
Best of luck with your studies! If there is anything that MAPS can do to make your university experience better, please let us know.
I am very excited to have so much great news to share with you this month.
The first is personal --- I graduated! Yes, after 7 years I finally got my B.A. in Labour Studies. Getting this done took me through some of the most challenging and frustrating points of my entire life, but I am so proud that I did it.
I was fortunate to have an amazing support system at home – which included my two children who doubled as my personal cheerleaders – and my spouse who was able to help out with making dinner, get me through the occasional writer’s block and keep my cheerleaders entertained when I needed to study for finals.
Achieving this milestone and reflecting on how I got here made me incredibly thankful for what I have in my life --- and realize that the part-time educational path for many others often has much higher hurdles to overcome: Single parenting, chicken pox and poorly timed public school breaks are a few that immediately spring to mind.
Part-time students are “part-time” for very good reasons. Most of us have important responsibilities besides getting our education --- and many of those are actually a higher priority than studying at Mac. Keeping our paid jobs, ensuring health and safety of our children, or providing home care support for a dependent relative --- can trump education when they conflict.
Many people who aren’t part-time students just don’t get that. They don’t understand the personal commitment that part-time learners have to make to advance their education. The very real choices we make – like taking a night class when your child doesn’t want you to be away for bedtime, or missing a family weekend getaway to study for a mid-term – are not the same when you are a parent or a spouse. The experience of being a full-time undergraduate – having your first taste of freedom from home – gives these sacrifices an entirely different flavour and can render full-time students uncomprehending of part-time learners’ needs. More recently, university administrators are taking this view as well – thinking that a student is a student is a student.
When I am asked why McMaster needs a part-time student association – these are the reasons I give.
MAPS' goal is to support the very personal and significant commitment that each of us make to advance our education. We face hard personal choices to move our studies forward that full-time students rarely face. The implications of these decisions affect our personal lives, our relationships with our spouses, children and dependent relatives; and often force us to extend the time it takes to complete a degree. Who, if not other part-time students, can speak to these issues at the decision-making tables at McMaster? With this in mind, MAPS is moving forward with a number of exciting projects.
One of my primary goals for this year is to bring part-time students together to help each other out. MAPS is establishing a mentorship program that will match newer part-time students with other part-time learners who have been ‘in the system’ and can share their wisdom and experience. Collaborating to solve problems, swap stories, and just having someone you can talk to who ‘gets it’ can make all the difference. We are 3,000 students in a sea of over 20,000 — university can feel like a very lonely place when you don’t have a little moral support.
We are also reaching out to you through Facebook, email, and our website to get your thoughts and ideas on how to improve the part-time experience at Mac. To get this ball rolling the Board had a three hour brainstorming session to put some ideas on the table. We are using the results of that session to develop an Operational Plan for this year; which I hope to share with you in the coming weeks.
I’m very pleased to tell you that we are rebuilding our relationship with the MSU to ensure that our two associations can work collaboratively to keep full and part-time students’ issues on the table. It is my hope that where we have common interests MAPS and the MSU can present a ‘united front’, and when our members have special needs, we can provide mutual support to get those needs addressed. I have already started this dialogue with Teddy Saull, and we have agreed to continue our discussions to keep the momentum going.
We are re-launching The Link - the newsletter that MAPS produced for many years. We are moving it to a digest format and reformatting it to be primarily an e-publication so that you can quickly see what’s going on and then dive deeper into stories that are of interest to you. We will also be publishing a limited number of hard copies for those who prefer paper over computer screens. We are in the final stages of working on ways that you (or anyone in the McMaster Community) can contribute by providing stories or asking questions.
I have asked our executive director to look into developing an online community for part-time learners – providing an easy-to-navigate and friendly environment to get information, ask questions, and get to know your fellow part-time students. We are also working on innovative options to increase the ways that part-time students (who are perpetually short on time) can be a part of the Association.
I am so excited to be able to get these projects started as I think they will make a big difference for part-time students. I’d love to hear what you think about these plans, and any suggestions on how we can we support you during your time at Mac.
Have a great summer!
As I begin my second year on the Board of Directors and start my term as President, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your support of MAPS over the past year. We have come so far in just 13 months – due to the dedication of our volunteer board, our members, members of the university community and our incredible staff.
It’s now time to turn the page on last year’s issues and return our focus to the original purpose of MAPS – representing and advocating for your needs. To do that, we need your help.
On May 13-16, MAPS will be holding a referendum to elect new directors to the board and ask you some other important questions.
We created the e-referendum process specifically for you. Understanding that your lives are filled to the brim with school, work and home activities – we decided to bring our questions to you, rather than you to them.
In the coming weeks, we will be emailing you information about the referendum, the questions we want you to answer for us, and how to vote. We will also be giving you details on an information meeting we are holding on May 12th at 7pm where the Board will present information to you, and answer your questions – either in person at our offices or over the web through WebEx technology.
I hope that you will take some time to review the information we send and take a few moments over the three day voting period to make your voice heard.
2013 was a building year - bolstering our governance policies and increasing the transparency of our decision-making. With that solid foundation in place, we can now shift our focus back to you, the students we represent.
The Board and I are working to demonstrate that MAPS – your student government – is relevant and uniquely represents the interests of part-time students. We’ve told the university, and I am committing to each of you, that we can do this in one year.
I am very excited to get to work establishing new programs and talking to you about how we can improve your experience at McMaster.
Thank you again for your interest and support. I look forward to chatting with you at the Information Meeting, and throughout the year.