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New Student Writer in Residence chosen, hopes to bring together creative community

The University Students’ Council and Department of English and Writing Studies are excited to welcome the new Student Writer in Residence (SWIR), Victoria Wiebe. A third-year psychology and creative writing student, Wiebe is a published author with experience in writing, editing and community organization. In her role, Wiebe hopes to create more spaces on and off-campus for varying types of writing and creativity. “It is my hope that this year I’ll be able to engage with students who have a passion for the arts, but aren’t as likely to get involved,” said Wiebe. “Whether because they’re in a different faculty, are embarrassed to share their writing, or don’t know how to get involved.” The Student Writer in Residence program, a partnership between the USC and English department, will be going into its fifth year – continuing a history of connecting an accomplished undergraduate writer with peers in the area. “The student chosen for this role has a variety of resources coming from their personal experiences as a writer,” said Helen Ngo, the current SWIR. “They are able to act as a mentor to other creative writers and with Victoria as a published author, this sets up opportunities and connections in the publishing community.” Ngo, a mathematics student, emphasized the value of the program. Students can arrange one-on-one meetings with the SWIR to share ideas, edit previous work or further develop their writing skills. The SWIR is a rare opportunity for students to have their work reviewed by a fellow student with publication experience. Ngo plans to introduce Wiebe to the community on Tuesday, March 22 in the International Graduate...

8-year-old visits Western to teach students about taxes, part of USC Income Tax Clinics

Undergraduate students at Western have the chance to meet Carlie Weinreb, an 8-year-old Torontonian who specializes in teaching students and business professionals how to file their taxes. Weinreb’s presentation is part of the University Students’ Council’s annual Income Tax Clinic, where student volunteers help their peers file taxes in partner with the Canada Revenue Agency. Weinreb has been working with taxes since the age of five after learning steps and formulas from her father, a chartered professional accountant. Given that her mother is a teacher, Weinreb had a gift for public speaking and began her a career as a lecturer when her father was asked to give a presentation at a conference and decided she would be best able to speak to the information. Since then, Weinreb’s presentations have been featured in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and CTV News. Lindsay Banks, the USC’s Associate Vice-President Finance & Internal Audit, explains that typically the Income Tax Clinics are designed to “give students fish rather than teaching them how to fish.” Thus, Weinreb’s visit is aimed at providing undergraduates an easy to understand but in-depth explanation of how to file their taxes. “Though our student volunteers are more than able to complete your taxes with you, we also wanted this year’s programming to have a learning component. Carlie’s presentation and other financial workshops will address just that,” said Banks. Carlie Weinreb’s lecture, called “Learn How to Do Tour Tax Return in 15 Minutes,” takes place on Wednesday, March 16th from 3:30-4:30 in Council Chambers in the University Community Centre. Students can expect to learn the basics about T4s, income...

USC General Manager steps away from role following eight years of service

Cathy Clarke, General Manager for the University Students’ Council, has decided to leave the USC effective September 30th, 2016, up until which time she will remain with the organization to ensure corporate stability and the transition of her successor. This provides the USC the opportunity to review the scope, autonomy, and accountability of the GM role, as well as the overall organizational structure of the USC. Clarke has served the USC for eight years as a mentor and advisor to many student executives and leaders. Her dedication and teamwork has supported the organization through a number of trials and she can claim many achievements in her tenure. “Through her time at the USC, Cathy has been a fierce advocate for students and worked hard to ensure the organization has always been supported,” said USC president Sophie Helpard. “Many student leaders who are now USC alumni know her to be a mentor and a friend. I would personally like to thank Cathy for everything she has done for me, my executive, and for students. I am proud to have worked so closely with her over my year with the USC and look forward to a new chapter for the organization.” Highlights from Clarke’s years with the USC include the development of a corporate governance structure, financial and program sustainability, comprehensive capital renovations on all USC operated space and a fully funded five-year capital plan. “I’ve seen a lot of positive changes at the USC in my time here and predict a stable future for the organization,” explained Clarke. “It’s time for a change in my life and a change of...

Wellness Education Centre and mental health guide created, work to promote better student holistic health

After months of advocacy, the University Students’ Council works with Western University to launch two new student wellness initiatives this semester. First, the OWL Mental Health and Wellness Resource Guide – a comprehensive guide available to every student online. Second, the Wellness Education Centre – a professionally run space operating from the basement of the University Community Centre hosting a number of full-time staff. The OWL resource guide and the Wellness Education Centre aim to maximize the number of avenues through which students can find support and advice. The guide in particular is designed to provide tools necessary in finding the best suited resources to students’ unique situations, differentiating all the on and off-campus services. In addition to being a source of personal relief, the guide will serve as a map for campus leaders like sophs, residence staff and teaching assistants in directing peers in need. A PDF copy of the guide can be found HERE. The Wellness Education Centre will operate with similar objectives, focusing on overall mental, physical, sexual and spiritual wellbeing. Modelled on spaces at other Ontario universities, the Wellness Education Centre will host two full-time coordinators as well as a number of work-study students. The Wellness Education Coordinator will work with students to find the best-suited services for individualized care. Moreover, the role will help students learn about wellness at any stage. “This is a space for anyone to learn about and be inspired by their overall wellness,” said Melanie-Anne Atkins, Wellness Education Coordinator. The second full-time staff coordinator, a Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coordinator, will be a point-person for all issues pertaining to sexual violence, its...

2015 Student Survey results published, part of larger USC feedback efforts

The University Students’ Council is committed to improving the educational experience and quality of life for undergraduate students at Western. In order to effectively fulfill this mandate, the USC needs to identify the barriers students face in their time at this institution – done here through a student survey. This survey is part of larger feedback initiatives that aim to match advocacy priorities with student interests. Prior to the creation of this survey, student unions across Canada were consulted to gauge the most astute questioning and to reflect on best practices. This survey is a key component of the USC’s feedback strategy and will hopefully be continued on an annual basis with the goal of tracking trends. To view the survey results, read the 2015 Student Survey report HERE. The results for this survey were collected using an online survey platform. The survey link was disseminated through social media, on the University Students’ Council website and over UWO email to every undergraduate student at Western University. The questions appeared in various forms: rating scales ranking experiences, ordering options by importance or preference, multiple choice and long answer. The survey received 3,220 responses. The opportunity to win an iPad Air 2, iPad Mini and one of four USC Platinum Cards was also presented as an incentive for participation. USC Platinum Cards are reward cards that gift holders with discounts and line-bypass as certain USC events or operations. For further questions please contact: Kevin Hurren Communications Officer University Students’ Council communications@westernusc.ca 519-661-2111 ext....

Referendum on Propel, Western’s business accelerator, to come for 2016 USC elections

A referendum on Western’s business accelerator, Propel, will be coming to the 2016 University Students’ Council elections. Propel aims to expose students to concepts of entrepreneurship, encourage testing of ideas through hands-on experience and offer supports like mentorship. The program has existed for two years and has worked with over 130 student start-ups, largely funded through grants from the USC, Western, the Ontario government and external partnerships. Now, the program is hoping to move away from reliance on grants and instead is asking students to vote yes to a $4.89 student fee increase for Propel. “Our current funding model results in several constraints with respect to making our services available to all qualified and deserving student-based start-ups,” explained Ian Haase, Director of Propel. The most notable constraint is matching fund requirements from the Ontario Government. Before government grants are given to start-ups through Campus-Linked Accelerators, Propel has to match that support 2:1. If the referendum passes other Propel improvements will include an additional full-time staff member to handle intake, improved space in the Student Services Building and an expanded summer incubator program. Third-year Ivey students Ayush Vaidya and David Aideyan joined Propel last year to develop their audio content licensing start-up, Everest Media. “The biggest thing we got out of the program was an understanding of what we had the potential to achieve – we weren’t yet thinking like a business,” said Aideyan. Everest Media has now licensed content to over 1,300 musicians internationally, an amount of growth that both Vaidya and Aideyan attribute to Propel. “Digital marketing strategies, meeting people in the industry, pricing frameworks – these are...

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