Student Summit 2023: the rest

Student Summit 2023: the rest
Student Summit 2023: the rest

On March 25, the caucus of student associations of the Confederation of Student Associations of Laval University (CADEUL) adopted an important document which charts the path towards improving student life and improving the university experience at Laval University. This thirty-page report is intended to be the culmination of a major event which took place on campus in October 2023: the Student Summit, the first of its kind at the University. The contents of the Summit discussion workshops were analyzed to serve as a basis for the report. This contains 40 recommendations.

CADEUL, the Association of Laval Students Enrolled in Higher Studies (AELIES), the University management and several administrative units had organized this special moment of exchange and reflection lasting five days. The discussions revolved around five themes: mental health, financial health, the inclusive campus, educational aspects and community services.

The report was written jointly by CADEUL, AELIES and the Student Association of the University of 3e age of Laval University. Remember that CADEUL brings together 89 departmental and faculty associations representing more than 35,000 students registered in 1er cycle. AELIES, for its part, represents the entire student community of the 2e and 3e cycles, or some 15,000 people.

Better communication

Cathia Bergeron is vice-rector for studies and student affairs, responsible for health. In interview with ULaval news, she emphasizes from the outset that several of the report’s recommendations refer to issues that were already in progress before the Summit. “Actions are already being done at the University, services are offered in several cases,” she explains. We can think of the course Discover Quebec and scholarships for French courses offered to international students. But a large part of the student community tells us that they are more or less aware of this or that service and that access is not so obvious. Our students often tell us that they receive a lot of information. But how do we bring out this information among so many others?

According to her, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to have new benchmarks and to use new means of communication. “It’s normal, in these circumstances, not to be able to reach everyone,” she continues. But this situation can be improved by better communication. We are going to do this work together, the management of the University and the two major student associations.”

James Boudreau is the outgoing president of CADEUL. He discusses the close collaboration that has been forged between the management of the University and the two major student associations. “We collaborated together in the design and organization of the Summit,” he said, “and this will continue with the follow-up of the report which will be done during the monthly meeting of student associations with the vice-rector.”

Cathia Bergeron recalls the origins of this co-construction. “The idea of ​​the Summit came to rector Sophie D’Amours during the race for the rectorship of her second term,” she says. She wanted to meet the students, hear from them and find out their priorities. From the first year of her second mandate, she set the Summit project in motion.”

Several issues

The mental health section of the report alone contains 11 recommendations. The development of peer helper or mentoring programs for newly enrolled students is one of them. Another is to reduce the number of academic credits required to be considered full-time at the graduate level.

In the financial health component, it is recommended that students who work for the University as administrative, research and teaching assistants receive an adequate salary comparable to that offered in other major Quebec universities.

One of the report’s recommendations, described as very important by James Boudreau, stems from the discussion workshop on the inclusive campus. It reads as follows: “That Laval University, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and the Office of Respect for Persons (BRP) raise awareness among the university community about respecting the choice of first name and pronoun used by each member of the community.”

“This issue concerns gender identity,” he says. CADEUL has been working on this for a while. In the student movement, this has become very recurrent. In formal meetings, we write our gender on a small card.”

The vice-rector adds. “It’s a very good example of recommendation,” she says. Our students take this to heart. People want their gender to be identified by their first and last name. They feel the need, for whatever reason, for their chosen identity to be reflected in the various University systems, for their identifier to be different from the one officially registered. There is complexity behind this adjustment of systems, but we are almost there.

From student engagement to international students

Frank Kenfack Jumetio is the outgoing president of AELIES. It identifies two recommendations relating to students enrolled in graduate studies. The first concerns the policy for recognizing student involvement. The second concerns the policy relating to students and student parents. “Both policies are under review,” he said. The first aims to revitalize student engagement. We must address the engagement crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy needs to be reviewed and publicized further. The committee’s work began a few months ago. We emphasize the listening of the university administration in this matter.”

For her part, Cathia Bergeron emphasizes the financial precariousness of students. “We hear everywhere about financial insecurity,” she explains. This is a major concern for students. The management of the University is sensitive to this reality. We’re really trying to work on making sure that our entire scholarship and financial aid program is maximized.”

What about international students? During the Student Summit, speakers said they felt well received, sometimes not equipped enough for their integration, and wanted to be more supervised. One recommendation in the report is to hold information sessions and produce a study guide on aspects such as the grading system, plagiarism rules and the type of teaching offered. “We welcome this recommendation very favorably,” says the vice-rector. Our goal is for these students to succeed. I often say that we must not only welcome them, but support them until the end, until they graduate. When you change environment and culture, you face many obstacles. They need to be as well equipped as possible to integrate, to learn about our services.”

Consult the Report on the 2023 Student Summit discussion workshops

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