How do you plan on bridging any communication gap(s) that exist(s) between the VUSAC and the VCU?
Hi, Dhir! Thank you for this question.
Bridging the communication gap between VUSAC and VCU is crucial for fostering collaboration, transparency, and efficiency in student governance. I would go about this by implementing the following steps:
Regular Meetings and Open Forums: Organising regular meetings between VUSAC and VCU member which provide a platform for both organisations to discuss their goals, share updates, and address concerns openly.
Cross-Representation: Encourage cross-representation between VUSAC and VCU which can involve having designated liaison officers from each organisation attend meetings and events of the other to ensure information flows smoothly.
Feedback Mechanisms: Implementing feedback mechanisms to gather input from students about their concerns and suggestions is crucial for bridging the gap between VUSAC and VCU. Both the organisations should actively seek student opinions and use them to guide their decision-making processes.
Continuous Assessment: Regularly assessing the effectiveness of communication strategies and collaborative efforts and making adjustments as needed to ensure that communication remains open and productive helps increase accountability.
These steps are crucial to fostering a more cohesive and student-focused approach to governance and representation.
This organization simply cannot label itself as the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council if it does not maintain a strong bridge of communication with its constituents and does not listen to and take action to realize and amplify their voices, ideas, feelings, and concerns. VUSAC (and all members of it) should work to serve the students of Victoria University.
When I first arrived at the VUSAC Office, prior to even officially becoming a registered UofT student, all the members described to me how the VUSAC office is not a private space reserved for its members only, but that it has an open door policy and all are welcome to drop by at any time. I feel as though this attitude must be furthered and translated into an online platform where students can not always be present, but can also at any time drop in and express their thoughts on everything VUSAC. A digital "suggestion/anonymous comment box", per se, which VUSAC Members (perhaps more specifically the first year councillors) would check regular and bring up the content at the next VUSAC Meeting.
I also believe that, if resources permit, a regularly occurring "Constituents-Council Meeting" (Working Title) could take place in which VUSAC Members and members of the VCU engage in a moderated dialogue session (all recorded) in a large spacious location. Where members of the public can address concerns, provide feedback, and suggest ideas for initiatives and events. In essence, it could resemble the question period with the professors and alumni during the Faculty of Arts & Science Welcome Event earlier this year.
From my experience as a member of the student council and an experienced executive for multiple clubs and organizations throughout my life, I have realized that there are various ways of successfully getting in touch with one side to another.
Firstly, by regularly sending out Victoria College newspapers via email, students could access extensive details on information they should be aware of. In the online newspaper, we could add links to pre-recorded meetings or video messages that everybody can freely view and watch.
Secondly, by making a designated application of use for essential notices, participants can frequently check and engage with content posted. In an era of technology and social media, using apps such as WhatsApp, Instagram, or Discord, which many use already, will bring the gaps in communications closer between the VUSAC and the VCU. In addition, sending out emails for big announcements would be even more helpful in bridging the gaps.
Lastly, encouraging more small meetings with the residents and dons could allow Victoria College residents to gather and review the meetings and agendas proposed during the board conferences. The indicated is also an excellent opportunity for residents to socialize as well.
Albert Deok-Hyun Ahn.
Based on my previous experiences participating in and leading various student councils and leadership groups, I've found several ways to work effectively in communicating with the student body, which can be applied to bridging any communication gaps between VUSAC and the VCU.
Using a centralized platform, such as Instagram, Slack, Discord, Remind or MS Teams or a mix of all of them, can provide instant updates and allow members to communicate and engage effectively on the platform.
I've also found that posters on bulletins can be a powerful way of keeping members informed on certain topics. High-traffic areas such as the Goldring Student Centre, as well as residence doorways tend to have dozens to hundreds of students who pass through every day and many students could potentially look up and check for any new information posted.
Follow-up emails after meetings regarding meeting minutes, key dates of events, announcements, etc. to all affiliated members can be another direct way to ensure everyone stays informed.
There are definitely other potential methods to effectively communicate with others and help close any communication gap (if any). I've simply suggested what I've found works best in my experience in mass communications.
First of all, let me just quickly acknowledge that this is my second response. I did originally misinterpret the question, that's my bad.
As the current Chair of two separate boards of directors, it is always an issue trying to keep everyone in the know of what our board has been accomplishing. The only way you can truly speak to the people you represent is through your social media, and by keeping folks up to date with what has happened at recent board meetings.
One strategy is to potentially livestream certain board meetings, or to hold an open Q&A every once in a while! I have found that for those who are looking for information, it is an effective means of promoting what you as a board have accomplished.
Another trick I have used is posting updates every week/two weeks on all social media with both what we have accomplished since the last post and the major achievements since our mandates began.
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!
How should VUSAC cater to students who do not use social media platforms and / or have other preferences for communication platforms?
Other potential solutions include posters, announcing progress at VUSAC events and we could send out a monthly email blast to all the students to talk about all the hard work that has been going on at VUSAC!
Communication gaps between a student council and its student body are an issue that seems to exist everywhere. Although, in my own opinion, my high school's student council (Of which I was the Treasurer), seemed to have resolved the issue somewhat effectively.
Beyond the usual business of announcements and social media posts, I personally set up a TV in my school's lobby to rotate through our announcements, so that students can see them whenever they wish. Additionally, my student council got permission to send announcements through our school agenda app, which the vast majority of the students in our school (and their parents) had downloaded on their phones, meaning that we had a nearly 100% reach rate for our events.
Otherwise, we kept our cafeteria-located office door open during lunch periods, allowing anyone to step in to give suggestions or voice complaints.
If anything should be done to reduce communication gaps, then VUSAC should push the faces of its members so that students better recognize who they have in charge (And can confine in).
Communication gaps between the student council and the student body was an issue that we were constantly brainstorming solutions while I was the director of public relations on my high school's student council. We found that Instagram was often the most effective way to connect with students, which is something VUSAC already does well. Two quick pieces to improve it further would be to post a monthly events calendar and a short summary of key elements from VUSAC meetings (similarly to the agendas that are currently being posted). People are busy, and don't always have time to see every post and read every report. By posting consolidated versions, the information becomes more accessible to all students.
In my previous role, we also developed Instagram reels to advertise our major events. This helped our council be approachable and we were able to better convey how much fun the events would be!
In my experience on student government throughout high school, the represented student body always feels disconnected and is not aware of what events/activities are happening.
In order to bridge this gap, I believe VUSAC should invest in a phone app that can be used as a virtual bulletin. It can include all VUSAC events and options for VCU to subscribe to reminders for specific events. It can also include an anonymous feedback/forum for all Vickies to drop their ideas or concerns for VUSAC to address.
This is an excellent thought!
While I have not formally done the review to see whether the cost of taking this initiative would be less than the benefits, I believe that it would increase the visibility of VUSAC events and increase modes of communication which can be beneficial as all VCU members may not be on social media or may prefer more direct channels of information like an app. This app could be an extension of the already existing website to maintain consistency across all VUSAC platforms.
Regarding moving forward with this, should I be elected as a councillor, I will take a deeper dive into this and present my findings to VUSAC.
Communication between VUSAC and the VCU is extremely important to me! I think that it's important that the benefits, activities, and ideas we come up with at VUSAC suit the needs and wants of all the students at Victoria. One of the ways I think we can help bridge that communication gap is by providing the opportunity for victoria college students to provide feedback on VUSAC events or changes that have occured over the course of the year. This would help VUSAC understand what areas we need to focus on in order to support and provide the student body with reasons to enjoy being a Vic student. This would also help Victoria College students as they would feel more involved with VUSAC and develop a better sense of community if they see that VUSAC cares about their opinions.