(to see all Jackie's messages, click on the above link)
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!
- Jacqueline (Jackie) Arlen
New at MAPS
MAPS leaves OUSA
At its meeting on April 29th, the Board of Directors voted to terminate MAPS' membership in the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.
In the letter to the OUSA President, MAPS notes:
"While we appreciate the work OUSA has done ... the Board does not feel that MAPS is a good ‘fit’ with OUSA.
"OUSA’s governance model is designed [for] ... [full-time] student leaders ... [MAPS'] leadership ... balances work, family, and studies in addition to volunteering to lead the Association. A commitment of 3 or 4 additional days per month for OUSA is simply not realistic... As we cannot participate as a full and engaged partner... it would be inappropriate to be a member in name only.
MAPS did, however, leave the door open to working with OUSA on an issue-by-issue basis, noting, "... we welcome the opportunity to work with other student governments and other organizations where our interests align... [and] appreciate your assurance that OUSA ...will welcome opportunities to partner [with us] in the future.
Course Availability Study started
MAPS has engaged Centrality Data Services to conduct research into historic and projected course availability for part-time students.
Phase I will review how accessible course were for part-time students for the past twelve months, by looking at how the university set course sizes and surveying members on how often they were able to get the courses they wanted. Phase II will look at the upcoming 12 months to see where likely access issues may exist. Results are expected in late October 2014.
"We have a plan!"
On July 15th, the Board of Directors approved the Association's first Operational Plan (Op Plan).
"This is a very important document for us", explained Jackie Arlen, MAPS' President, "...our Operational Plan clearly states what we plan to do, how we plan to achieve it, and how we will measure our success."
In June, the Board of Directors identified its overall strategic goals and statement of purpose, and then discussed what sort of activities would best achieve those goals.
The McMaster Association of Part-time Students helps you successfully navigate your part-time student experience.
The Op Plan is based on the Board's direction, and organizes the Association's goals in five themes: Representation, Recognition, Member Support, Communications, and Research.
Each theme has a number of projects planned for the next twelve months which will move the Association forward.
"The Op Plan is a huge step in transparency. It makes our Board more accountable to our members, and the executive director more accountable to the Board," noted Kyle Johansen, MAPS' executive director. "We have clear objectives to achieve and projects set out to get us there. Because the Op Plan is a public document, everyone will be able to judge how well we are doing."
The Op Plan will be posted to the website in the next several days. Please see the quick link at the top of this page for direct access to the plan when it is posted.
Just the facts...
2014 Revised Budget Approved
The Board of Directors approved a revised budget for the Association on July 15th. Revisions were necessary once the university confirmed its decision to stop collecting summer student fees from undergraduate students who were, in the prior fall/winter term, MSU members. The impact of this decision reduced MAPS' fees by over 50%.
"This was not an easy process for us "noted Emily Cerantola, Vice President Finance, "we've had to sharpen our focus so we can continue to meet the needs of part-time students."
In spite of this fee reduction, MAPS has launched an ambitious 12 month Operating Plan that is focused on helping part-time undergraduate and CCE students while attending McMaster University.
The Association has been developing additional policies to meet our commitment to our members for transparency and accountability. In July, the Board approved a new job description for the executive director, and a compensation schedule for all Association staff. The Board will consider new policies regarding election procedures, dispute resolution and human resources management in September. All approved policies are posted on the Association's website.
Want to be a MAPS volunteer?
We now have a one-page questionnaire you can fill out to make that happen fast! You can find it here.
New bank for MAPS
As a result of a competitive bidding process, MAPS has selected ScotiaBank as its primary financial services provider.
"While the terms offered to the Association are confidential at the request of the bank, I can confirm that the services provided, rates and charges are extremely competitive" noted Jackie Arlen, MAPS' President.
What does this mean for anyone doing business with MAPS?
"Cheques issued from our PACE Credit Union account will be honoured until July 15th", Kyle Johansen, MAPS' acting Executive Director advised, "after the 15th, the Credit Union account will be closed and stop payments will be put on all outstanding cheques."
Stopped cheques may be replaced with one from our new bank upon request.
If you want to let us know about the quality of service you received from our office, please go here and complete a brief survey.
MAPS' first Annual Report (formerly the Report from the Board of Directors) was released on March 25th. You can view or download the report here.
The 2013 Audited Financial Statements were approved by the Board of Directors on March 25th and are available here.
Six members were elected to the MAPS Board of Directors by acclamation on March 25th and April 11th, 2014. The Notice of Election is available here.
Congratulations to Marijana Govorcin, Caroline Hill-Smith, Jeff Huber, and Suet-Fun Cassandra Lo, Erick Merlos, and David Moore.
One seat on the Board of Directors remain vacant and will be filled in September 2014.
For more information, please see our Memebership Meeting and General Meeting Materials page.
There are no current media releases. Older releases can be found here.
Notices that are not listed below have been moved to our notice archive page