New Ways to Look at Things
Over the course of last week, I attended a conference with Vice President of Student Affairs, Alex Werenka, in Montreal. The conference was held by StudentCare, the health and dental plan that the USSU is partnered with. We were not the only student union in attendance for there was representation from UBC, McGill, Queens, and Concordia, just to name a few.
We were engaged in a number of different sessions pertaining to aspects of the health and dental plan, student initiatives, and a great keynote speaker, Stephen Sills, the Creative Director of Student Life Network. The Student Life Network is described as a collection of integrated web applications that drive students to interact and communicate with each other. Stephen challenged all of us to think out side of the box when we look to engage students on campus. He insisted on social media as the medium between the union and the students so we can create social interaction offline. He spoke of a text messaging system that allows students to create dialogue around an issue that is important to them or share an idea they believe could help the campus community. Ideas began to come from a number of different people such as a WOW tournament for the gaming club on campus where over 100 people came out to play, and an art event where plastic covered the walls and floors and students groups were able to come out, be creative, and afterwards sell their art for their club. This theme of engaging students in a different and a collaborative way truly was the theme of this trip, and I hope that some of these ideas we saw has rubbed off and the USSU can look at this issue in a new way.
We were able to meet a lot of student leaders over the past week. Fostering new relationships like this helps with student collaboration, and as such, I look forward to the forthcoming conversations.