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I want to hear what you think about. . .

Student Feedback Commissioner

jirwin32@uwo.ca
Do you think inter-council communication could be improved? What have you struggled with? What do you like about Fuss on the Bus? Is it accessible to you? If the USC is a brand, what do you want the specific substance to be behind that brand?
(I’m not going to do a Chakma and ask where you would take it to dinner)

Increasing and facilitating student communication towards the USC is my primary passion and what has driven me to run for this position. With the recent advent of social media strengthening, improved communal spaces and the renewed mandate of the USC team, the USC’s voice is heard louder than ever on our campus. But even if all outgoing communication is at a perfect score, ultimately only half of the portfolio is succeeding. Incoming communication—that is, students “talking” to the USC-- is just as vital to a healthy student government. Average students often find that when they want to voice their individual opinions to the USC, their ideas are diffracted, misdirected, or fall through the cracks. While social media and surveys serve a function in collecting student feedback, relying on them exclusively marginalizes a large number of students and deprives the USC of “meaning-rich” responses. Pioneering alternative web spaces like Idea Forum will allow for deeper online discussion and reflection on new issues. Change Camp provides a phenomenal opportunity for community building and conversation, but we are only just unpacking the potential for “public forums”, large and small. Creating this Commissioner position will be a much-needed step towards seeking first to understand, then to be understood.

Creative Services Team

With the launch of the new Creative Services space, the U.S.C will have the physical resources available to provide centralized, professional assistance with development and promotional projects. The need for graphics and media support is outstripping the Communications portfolio’s capacity give hands-on support. Building a team of skilled volunteers to work under the Advertising Commissioner using the resources of the Creative Services team will give an opportunity to talented students and provide top-grade support to other USC volunteers.

Promotional Briefs

Just because you lack Photoshop skills, it doesn’t mean you’re missing purpose and vision in creating your promotional materials. Creating a standard, comprehensive and easy-to-use promotional form will allow USC volunteers to submit their events or programs to the Creative Team and receive the results they want. A tentative version of this has been developed by this years’ Communications Committee, but it needs further work in order to be effective as a catch-all for diverse needs. By implementing a USC-wide standard of promo development, partnering with the Creative Team will be accessible and simple. In turn, graphic volunteers will have fewer misunderstandings or panicked requests. “I SAID BLUE!!”

Communications Training for Commissioners and Coordinators, Online and Offline

The USC is a business- how much should we be targeting students as consumers? Customers?

For the tremendous work and effort the USC expects from its Commissioners and Coordinators, it is fitting that the USC gives back to them in meaningful ways. Implementing basic Professional Development initiatives and training will equip Commissioners and Coordinators to best execute their respective portfolios and will be an investment in for their futures postWestern. It is incredibly important to me that with any training developed for Commissioners and Coordinators that “soft skill” communication is just as valued as “hard skill” instruction. Learning how to use twitter effectively is fantastic and serves a very important function in “leading” today’s world. #Relevant. However, making a concerted and targeted effort to develop interpersonal communications training –things like active listening, conflict resolution, empathy and leadership—will give our volunteers a more developed set of tools for their tasks and will strengthen the USC as a whole immeasurably. Partnering with the Student Success Centre to develop this programming would be easily implemented for the 13/14 year.

Is working to develop small scale, in-person dialogue opportunities naive in an online campus? The USC is by nature a political entity, but rarely expresses “political” views. Should it? What questions do you have about the portfolio? What is under its jurisdiction? How does it fit with the other Executive portfolios? Have we considered a skywriter?

While the intent and mandate behind Fuss on the Bus is as relevant as ever, the format and name are due for a change. The primary rationale of Fuss on the Bus is to allow USC councilors to directly report to and independently engage with their constituents. Since its creation, Fuss on the Bus has morphed from existing primarily as a YouTube channel (where councilors were interviewed on a bus…get it?) to its current form as chiefly a website and blog. The name “Fuss on the Bus”, while adorable and rhyming, is too ambiguous to hook average students or inform them as to the site’s purpose. There has been a tremendous amount of respect for preserving the integrity of Pat Searle’s mind baby; however being prepared to be creative and critical in continuing its success will ultimately serve the program better and give it longevity.

Fuss on the Bust

Intuitive and Informative USC website

When it comes to developing an online presence, it pays to adhere to the ABT principle: Always Be Tweaking. Finding specific documents and information on the USC website can be like trying to find a seat in the Fireside Lounge—disappointing, frantic, and seemingly up to chance. Ain’t nobody got time for that. The website doesn’t need to be redone, but it needs some major and reflexive tweaking in to better serve student needs. A great first step? Better search functions and searchable documents. The events calendar as it exists today is not a reliable place for students to go to receive updated, comprehensive account of what is happening on campus—it is, however, a stellar way to get a glance at what’s playing at Western Film. Between all of the Coordinators, Commissioners and club presidents, it’s a little terrifying to think about the volume involved when showing every coffee house or pop-up sale. However, by developing a standardized way for events to be submitted and a clickable daily schedule, the USC can provide students with the opportunity to reap the full benefits of their amazing campus and hopefully avoid FOMO for things that may have slipped their attention. Working to build a large, centralized calendar of ALL events on the website will serve as a promotional boon in and of itself, and will allow for cross-pollination and diversity in student attendees. Clubs and USC volunteers will be able to submit a calendar slip at any time, ideally with Events Approval. This could be an additional function of Western Links.

ALL Events, ALL THE TIME Calendar

Mustang Monthly Revamped

Sending out a monthly e-mail to all students as a USC news source is a great idea, and is a way to get student’s attention without deluging them with incessant updates. However, I want to a) “beautify” the e-mail version more in order to be eye grabbing and professional and b) find a way to have a hard copy make it into circulation among students. Ideally, this would occur as a monthly ad insert in the Gazette and, if possible, Western News.

Monthly Student Feature

Profiling an interesting or remarkable student every month will serve a number of functions. 1) It will celebrate and highlight the achievements of our phenomenal students, 2) It will be a way for “non-USC” achievers (they are not the only kind!) to be championed and be recognized by the large audience we are fortunate to have access to and 3) It will increase traffic and interest through the website at regular intervals.

BREAK OUT OF THE ATRIUM?

Depending on where their faculty is, many students have no reason to leave their corner of campus—the UCC is a place for buying school books and posters of people making out in Paris. Taking certain promotions and events “on tour” through campus (hosting them in different buildings) will not only engage more students with the event messaging, but will also send the message that USC initiatives welcome, recognize and place value in students of all varieties. Being seen is important, but making students feel like they are seen is even more crucial.