Annual Report 2021-22
Scroll down to read BUSU's 2021-22 Annual Report and watch a short highlight video below brought to you by our student powered video production department, BrockTV.
Message from the GM
Dear Brock University Undergraduate Students,
The 2021-2022 year was one of slow and measured rebirth for the Brock University Students’ Union.
BUSU worked collaboratively with Brock University to progressively return to campus.
We reignited our goal to “Cultivate a Transformative Student Experience” and our subgoal to “Enhance Student Engagement” as BUSU began with hosting our first in-person events, limited to 100 people outdoors in September. By March, our Club events were being held in-person and BUSU hosted our first concert in nearly two years.
BUSU made significant strides on or subgoal to “Revitalize and Empower Advocacy” at both the Brock University and Provincial level through a series of successful initiatives.
The Brock University Students’ Union continued to improve in the area of “Organizational Excellence”. BUSU developed a Marketing Plan based on the BUSU Strategic Plan that was developed in 2020-2021. We also stabilized our finances and developed a Non-Restricted Reserves Policy.
We increased our impact through the delivery of “Higher Quality Services. BUSU expanded the Breakfast program and the Drive Home program for the Benefit of Undergraduate students.
BUSU worked to transform our Businesses into Social Enterprises. We converted our coffee shop in the Learning Commons (Library) into a Coco Fresh Tea. We also engaged Brock University to conduct an Environmental Sustainability Audit.
In 2021-2022 we worked with Brock University to develop a feasibility study for New Student Space on campus.
I would like to congratulate the BUSU staff for their efforts. They have continued to demonstrate commitment, dedication, and tremendous resilience.
I would also like to thank the BUSU elected students. You navigated some challenging situations while keeping the best interests of BUSU in the long term in mind.
In reflecting back on the year, I believe we delivered on the BUSU mission of fostering an ever-improving Student Experience that is transformational, enriching and empowering.
I am looking forward to 2022-2023. My hopes include
- A return to more normal Club Programming and BUSU Programming.
- Continuing the Momentum we have built in Internal and External Advocacy.
- Progress towards a New Building.
- Better living our Value of “We’re here to do good”.
Best wishes for the Summer and to all those graduating, once a Badger, always a Badger!
Brock University Students’ Union
Strategic Plan update
After its official approval during the 2020-2021 academic year, BUSU’s Strategic Plan has served to improve our ability to support and advocate on behalf of students in adherence with our core values of inclusivity, leadership, accountability, fun, and integrity. The plan’s overarching vision is “to foster an ever-improving Student Experience that is transformational, enriching, and empowering” and has greatly shaped our decision-making throughout the year.
Over the past year, the executive team developed annual priorities in accordance with the plan, a budget to accomplish the plan’s goals and a reserves policy for unforeseen circumstances in the future. Furthermore, we are in the process of finalizing a marketing plan and redeveloping our website in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to improve communications and boost student engagement moving forward. This year’s annual priorities were as follows:
We will enhance student engagement.
To ensure students felt comfortable participating in our events this year, BUSU organized events with both hybrid and virtual models during BadgerFest, Frost Week, and both Wellness Weeks. During the annual #12DaysofBUSU in December, we held giveaways both virtually and in-person, to ensure everyone had the opportunity to participate. Looking forward, we are currently working with Hughes and Co Inc. to establish a Marketing and Communications strategy in line with student feedback to shape the way we interact with students both on campus and online.
We will revitalize and empower advocacy.
As part of our Federal Advocacy - Vote campaign, we hosted six local candidates from the Niagara Centre and St. Catharines ridings for a virtual town hall ahead of the most recent federal election. Our student representatives on the Brock University Senate also saw major wins with the approval of alternate grading and self-excused absences. Finally, we presented and submitted a letter to the regional and municipal council in support of the proposed consolidation of Niagara Region transit. Since then, the region secured the required triple-majority support and will move forward with the planned consolidation in 2023.
We will foster a welcoming, inclusive, and diverse student culture.
A major development in Brock’s recreational services this year was the introduction of women’s only hours at The Zone. This program was spearheaded by BUSU’s incoming President, Faten Darbaj and has helped us provide a safe, comfortable, inclusive and fun atmosphere for all students who identify as women.
In preparation for the next academic year, we plan to review our policies through the lens of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Upon receiving results of our most recent environmental audit in the spring, we will review the proposed changes and adjust our policies accordingly. We have also passed motions to provide capital funds for the creation of a new student space on campus. This work is expected to commence early spring.
This past year marked the third consecutive year — and second full year — where the daily operations of both Brock University and BUSU were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between a number of vaccine and mask mandates implemented by the university, as well as the Omicron wave that began in December 2021, the year was rife with changes as far as working in-person was concerned.
The fall semester saw a mix of in-person and online learning, the former of which marked the first return to campus for a majority of Brock students. All individuals who came to campus were required to be double vaccinated, had to undergo daily COVID-19 symptom screenings, and were required to wear a mask at all times.
The winter semester began exclusively online due to the Omicron wave, and remained so until the beginning of February, when the university began a steady return to campus akin to the fall semester. The week of Jan. 31 saw all in-person first and fourth-year classes return, while the following week saw all in-person second and third-year classes return.
While third doses, or booster shots, were not mandated (aside from all students living in residence), they were strongly recommended by the university. Other non-academic campus activity returned around this time as well, including varsity athletics, campus recreation and intramurals.
BUSU was heavily impacted by the pandemic as well over the past year, switching back and forth between remote and in-person work much like the rest of Brock’s population. Below is a brief timeline indicating these stretches.
- May 1 - Sep. 7, 2021 — BUSU worked remotely
- Sep. 8 - Dec. 17, 2021 — BUSU returned to the office
- Dec. 17, 2021 - Jan. 9, 2022 — Winter Break
- Jan. 9 - Feb. 28, 2022 — BUSU worked remotely
While operations were still online at this point, the BUSU Office opened back up on Jan. 10, 2022, and remained open from that point forward. It should also be noted that BUSU’s Food and Beverage (Social Enterprises) operations continued to operate throughout the remote stretch in early 2022.
BUSU’s Badgerfest ran from Sept. 6 to 30, making it the first month-long orientation. This was a result of COVID-19 protocols limiting event capacity to 100 people, BUSU made the best out of the situation by welcoming students with activities throughout September. Some events were hosted online while others were in-person and some activities that have been hosted indoors previous years were moved outdoors.
Activities offered include:
- Tie-dying in Weather Station Field, Sept. 6 to 7 from 12 - 5 p.m.
- Roller Rink at Isaac’s Patio, Sept. 6 - 10 from 6 - 10 p.m.
- Virtual Community Fair on virtual platform GatherTown, Sept. 7 to 8 from 4 - 6 p.m.
- BingOHHHH! With Vanity a la Mode in Weather Station Field, Sept. 7 from 7 - 11 p.m.
- Outdoor Movie Nights at Weather Station Field and Isaac’s Patio on Sept. 8, 16, 23, 30 from 7 - 11 p.m.
- Block Parties at Weather Station Field, Isaac’s Patio, Tennis Courts, and Jubilee Court, Sept. 11 from 6 - 11 p.m.
- Badgers Believe It Or Not! at Weather Station Field, Sept. 17 from 7 - 10 p.m.
- Patio Games at Isaac’s, Sept. 22 from 1-5 p.m.
- Virtual Bingo with Vanity a la Mode on Zoom, Sept. 27 from 7 - 11 p.m.
- Karaoke at Isaac’s Patio, Sept. 8 from 7 - 11 p.m.
Fall 2021 Events
Fall events took place indoors, outdoors, and online, complying with COVID-19 restrictions. The BUSU events team partnered with other post-secondary institutions on events.
Fall events included:
- Virtual Q & A with Dan Levy on Zoom, Oct. 5 from 5 - 7 p.m.
- Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland, Oct. 23 7 - 11 p.m.
- Patio Pumpkin Party at Isaac’s Patio, Oct. 26 - 28 from 1 - 4 p.m.
- Isaac’s Halloween Activities (trivia, movie night, karaoke) at Isaac’s & Union Station, Oct. 26 - 28 from 1-4 pm
Fall Wellness Week
The BUSU events team partnered with Brock services during Wellness week. They also partnered with SWAC, Recreation and HRE. Wellness Week is a week-long campaign to support students with their mental health journeys.
Wellness Week events included:
- Wellness Walks from Isaac’s Patio to Bruce Trail, Nov. 9 - 12 at 10 a.m.
- Paint Party at Isaac’s Bar & Grill, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
- Talk Sex with Darryl & Nicole at Union Station Food Court, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m
Winter 2022 Events
In January and February 2022 BUSU hosted online activities, moving to in-person events as of February 28. In March, BUSU hosted some events in-person and some online. The winter semester also featured a welcome week as well as special events for St. Patrick’s day.
Winter events included:
- Music Bingo with Dancing Phil on Zoom, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.
- Trivia on Facebook Live, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m.
- An Evening Andre DeGrasse on Zoom, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.
- Deal or No Deal on Facebook Live, Jan 27 at 1 p.m.
- Tarot Readings on Zoom, Feb. 8 at 1:30 p.m.
- Parks and Recreation Trivia at Isaac’s Bar and Grill, Feb. 10 at 1:30 pm.
- “Know Ya Boo” game show on Facebook Live, Feb 14 at 7 p.m.
- Immunity Quest - Mobile Escape Room at Union Station Food Court, Mar. 14 & 15 at 11 a.m.
- A Virtual Q & A with Erika Casupanan on Facebook Live, Mar. 15 at 7 p.m.
- Karaoke at Union Station Food Court, Mar. 22 at 8 p.m.
- Schitt’s Creek Trivia at Isaac’s Bar and Grill, Mar. 24 at 1:30 p.m.
- Ontario’s Got Talent Watch Party on the Fanshawe College Twitch, March 24.
- Drag Bingo at Union Station Food Court, Mar. 30 at 8 p.m.
- Dwayne Gretzky Live Concert at Union Station Food Court, Apr. 6 at 8 p.m.
Winter Wellness Week
The BUSU events team partnered SWAC, Recreation and HRE. Wellness Week is a week-long campaign to support students with their mental health journeys.
Wellness Week events included:
- Wellness Fair at Union Station Food Court, Mar. 7 at 11 a.m.
- International Women’s day with Nadya Okamoto on Zoom, Mar. 8 at 7 p.m.
- Mini Massages with Trillium College at Union Station Food Court, Mar 9 at 2 p.m.
- Great BUSU Baking Class with Boxed Cookies on Zoom, Mar. 9 at 6 p.m.
- Friends Trivia on Zoom, Mar. 9 at 6 p.m.
- Jack Talk with Jack.org and the Brock chapter on Zoom, Mar. 10 at 7 p.m.
St. Patrick's Day
BUSU and Brock University supported the need for alternative programming for students on-campus. The BUSU events team partnered with the social enterprises teams and SWAC to offer safe on-campus activities to students for St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Day activities included:
- Free pancake breakfast at Union Station Food Court, Mar. 17 at 8:30 a.m.
- Board Game Cafe at General Brock, Mar. 17 at 7 p.m.
Women Only Gym Hours
BUSU Vice-President, Student Services, Faten Darbaj spearheaded the Women-only Zone hours project. The aim of this project was to create an atmosphere that would be safe, comfortable, and inclusive for anyone who identifies as a woman to work out at Brock's gym. Additionally, certain religions and cultures don’t allow women to use fitness centres alongside men. With women-only hours the space becomes much more accessible to women.
Brock Recreation began to offer women-only hours at the fitness centre as of Nov. 1, 2021. Darbaj worked alongside Karen McAllister-Kenny, the Director of Brock Recreation and Leela MadhavaRau, the Director of Human Rights and Equity, to bring this project to fruition. The Zone was also recently renovated, construction began in late 2019 and finished last March, making the fitness centre 15,5000 square feet.
To provide privacy during women-only Zone hours, signage is installed to indicate when women-only gym hours are taking place and all windows that would otherwise allow passers by to see into the space are covered. There is also a female certified personal trainer present to guide and assist visitors with equipment.
Partnerships & Student Deals
BUSU recognizes that finances are a top concern for students. For the 2021-2022 year they partnered with local and national organizations to provide students with saving options. They also offered educational opportunities for students to learn more about topics such as elections in anticipation of the provincial election in the summer.
The Student Deals page offers organizations a space to advertise. BUSU also advertises new student deals on their social media platforms and e-newsletter. This year BUSU partnerships grew by over 200 per cent, including new partnerships with HelloFresh Canada, Telus, and Zoom Zoom.
Partnerships are separated into categories such as finances & services, which includes TD, Dejardins, Scotiabank, CIBC, RBC, SPC, and Niagara Student Mini Movers. They also have a dining and entertainment category that lists partnerships with Amazon Prime Student, Score Pizza, Marble Slab 4th Avenue, Landmark Cinemas, Taco Embassy, and Cracker Jack’s. The final category is travel and tourism, including partnerships with Driverseat Niagara, Contiki Holidays, and Blue Mountain Resorts.
Most partnerships and student deals this year were limited to online offerings, including the virtual community fair during BadgerFest and the aforementioned online advertising. In March 2022, BUSU brought in partners for the Wellness Fair as part of Wellness Week. Examples include Positive Living Niagara. Student VIP, and DrugSmart Pharmacy Group. They also partnered with Elections Canada to promote voter registration.
BUSU is excited to offer partnership opportunities to local and national organizations for the 2022-2023 year and are hopeful for the in-person return of the Vendor Fair as part of BadgerFest.
While most of this academic year’s activities were required to be held virtually, BUSU Clubs were more active than ever. With 119 ratified clubs on campus, students were able to get involved from the comfort of their home using platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Some new clubs introduced this year include the South Asian Women’s Society, Brock Climbing and Bouldering Club, and Brock Podcasts. BUSU approved over $100,000 worth of funding requests from the Clubs Committee, all of which were used to fund club initiatives throughout the year.
An exciting highlight from this year was the return of the annual Clubs Banquet. BUSU brought club executives together in-person for the first time since 2019 on April 7 for an evening of recognition in celebration of their work over the 2021-2022 year.
A full breakdown of award recipients and new clubs can be found below.
This past school year marked the inaugural year of several new clubs, all of whom fall under BUSU’s umbrella. While the pandemic certainly impacted how a number of clubs — both new and old — have had to operate, they were ultimately able to adjust when needed and have added to the depth of extracurriculars BUSU is proud to offer. Below is a list of new clubs that came to fruition this year, as well as a brief description of their function.
South Asian Women’s Society
The South Asian Women’s Society aims to create a safe space for South Asian women to congregate, express themselves, and grow both spiritually and academically, while ensuring that the growing population of South Asian women at Brock are well-represented and feel a strong sense of community. Another goal of the club is to unify and support the South Asian women who may feel marginalized at Brock in order for them to reach their full potential. BUSU plans to advocate for this club by organizing workshops, professional development seminars, and having discussions about topics that are not often discussed in South Asian spaces.
Brock Climbing and Bouldering
The Brock Climbing and Bouldering club offers students a chance to join the burgeoning climbing community, providing a welcoming and supportive environment to students of any and all skill levels. The club also aims to help members improve their problem-solving skills, develop their collaboration abilities, and provides the opportunity for students to challenge both themselves and others, all while belonging to an inclusive community that shares an interest in rock climbing and bouldering.
Brock Podcasts (BP)
The Brock Podcast club aims to increase accessibility and encourage student engagement within Brock University by broadcasting engaging audio content which students can freely listen to at any time. Club members are able to start their own podcast, or, for those who prefer to work behind the scenes, can join in an administrative role on one of the existing podcasts. The BP club ultimately wants to provide Brock students with a voice, and engage with their peers in a variety of discussions.
As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has had an impact on the way these clubs have had to operate in the past year, specifically with regards to club events. Many clubs have had to get creative in order to keep both their own members, and those in the general Brock community engaged.
Clubs have utilized video-conferencing platforms like Zoom or MS Teams to host meetings and events, while some clubs have utilized social media platforms in the form of livestreams or digital scavenger hunts, for example. As clubs slowly begin to move back to in-person events, club leaders are working hard to produce face-to-face events that are both safe and fun for their community to enjoy.
Virtual Club Events
Varying levels of restrictions have been placed on BUSU clubs over the course of the 2021-2022 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This changed how clubs operate and caused them to find innovative ways to host club events virtually when they were not able to meet in-person. The goal of virtual events was to keep club members and the community at Brock engaged throughout the year.
One of the main examples of restructuring club meetings and events to suit a virtual platform was utilizing platforms such as Zoom to host club meetings and events. Other clubs took to social media to create online scavenger hunts for club members and the Brock community to participate in. Others hosted live-streamed events. Many clubs found creative ways to showcase their club and to engage the students at Brock.
Many clubs had been operating entirely online for the 2020-2021 school year and were able to apply what was learned during that year to running events and meetings virtually this year. Model UN, Brock Improv, and Brock Musical Theatre are just some examples of clubs that have met online. Many of the dance-based clubs were hosting online lessons that members could attend from their homes. There are a number of ways clubs have adapted to the pandemic and restrictions. This flexibility allows the sense of community fostered by joining and attending clubs to continue to flourish.
As restrictions are lifted and in-person events become more and more feasible, clubs are working hard to continue to produce events that are safe and enjoyable for the community. For example The Clubs Banquet on April 7, 2022 took place in-person at Club Roma. This was an opportunity for BUSU to recognize Brock’s clubs and their leaders for the work they put in to increase student engagement, boost morale, and provide spaces for students to feel welcome and included, whether online or in-person.
2022 BUSU Club Awards
Clubs Policy Committee
BUSU’s Club Policy Committee (CPC) is a committee under the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council (BUSAC) umbrella who handles the distribution of club funds. The CPC works closest with the Vice President, Student Services (VPSS), as that position serves as the chair of the CPC, while the body of the CPC is made up of a group of elected students, at-large student applicants, the Clubs Manager, and the Clubs Coordinator.
Club funding is used to help clubs cover the cost of apparel — like club-specific shirts and hats — host events, and hold conferences, among many other areas. In order for a club to receive funding, clubs must create a presentation, and a budget to present to the CPC and/or BUSAC, depending on how much funding they are looking for.
In addition to funding, the CPC also oversees club creation, deals with any conflicts in the form of disciplinary hearings, and also helps plan club events headlined by the annual end-of-year Club Banquet.
This year’s Club Banquet took place on April 7, 2022, at Club Roma in St. Catharines, and was the first in-person banquet since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 150 students attended the Banquet to celebrate the many clubs Brock has to offer. The Banquet saw the awarding of several annual awards, the full list of which is listed in the ‘Club Awards’ article.
Over the past year, the CPC has made many positive decisions that have benefited the club community here at Brock. The CPC oversaw the creation of three new clubs (described in the ‘New Clubs’ article), while overseeing all general club management. The CPC has approved over $100,000 worth of club funding for student clubs to put towards club events, as well as other initiatives that aim to benefit the Brock University community.
Our advocacy team was certainly busy this year, as they were involved in a number of efforts with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), the federal election, and more, outlined below.
As a member of OUSA, BUSU is afforded a place on their Steering Committee each year. For this past year, that committee position was held by Austin Hurley, Vice-President External Affairs.
Hurley, along with a team of delegates, were sent to both OUSA’s fall and spring General Assemblies, and were involved in the passing of the following policy papers:
- System Vision
- Responding to COVID-19
- Student Mobility and Credit Transfer
- Indigenous Students
- Student Financial Aid
- Technology Enabled Learning
- Mature Students
The “Responding to COVID-19” and “Indigenous Students” policy papers were both authored by BUSU. All of these policy papers will serve as the foundation and guiding documents that will inform OUSA’s approach and demands of the provincial government in their lobbying efforts.
In terms of lobbying, Hurley and the delegation were also involved in two Lobby Weeks, wherein they had the opportunity to directly meet and speak with members of parliament. In their lobbying efforts, Hurley and the delegation were able to successfully represent and communicate the interests and demands of not just undergraduate students in Ontario, but Brock University undergraduate students more specifically.
In the leadup to the 2021 Federal Election that was held on September 20, our advocacy team hosted a town hall event, which featured the local candidates from all of the major political parties and gave them the opportunity to answer questions directly related to student issues and concerns.
The event was well attended, but due to COVID-19 protocols, it had to be held entirely online. This was only possible thanks in large part to the help of BrockTV who set up the livestream.
The advocacy team also circulated a campus-wide student survey on textbook affordability, participated in 16 Days of Activism in support of Students for Consent Culture Canada, and also purchased and distributed 500 free drink covers, produced by NightCaps, to help students protect themselves against drink spiking.
One of the major priorities of our new five year strategic plan is reconciliation and decolonization.
In keeping with our commitment to this strategic priority, the advocacy team met with Brock Aboriginal Student Services (AbSS) early in the year to understand in what ways we could best support them and the work that they do.
The goal of AbSS is to help Indigenous students transition successfully to Brock, while also maintaining and strengthening their cultural identity. They offer culturally sensitive support to help indigenous students in both academic and social contexts, as well as educational and cultural resources for interested non-indigenous students.
Some of the services they provide to Indigenous students includes: Smudging, tutoring services, the lounge, Indigenous books, videos and more, cultural art and design workshops, luncheons, access to Elders, a computer lab, refreshments, as well as student job opportunities.
As a result of this engagement with AbSS from the advocacy team, we supported AbSS by hosting a movie night on the Isaac’s patio on the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, where we showed the film adaptation of Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, and we also purchased orange shirts and swag items for AbSS to give to students and their staff members.
During that fact finding and communicative process, the advocacy team also discovered that AbSS was funded solely through government grants. In response to this discovery, it was decided that introducing an AbSS levy would be brought to referendum.
The referendum question posed to undergraduate students in the February elections asked if they would support the introduction of a mandatory $2.75 per credit fee to help provide more consistent funding to AbSS.
The referendum passed, with 64.5 per cent of students voting in favour. As a result, AbSS is now guaranteed over $200,000 in funding per year, which is set to be spent on creating student jobs, as well as developing and providing additional programming and support services for Indigenous and non-indigenous students.
As we are accountable to all undergraduate students at Brock, it is required that AbSS will prepare an annual budget, in which they will detail how they plan to spend the monies provided to them by the levy, which will be presented to our Board of Directors. Any potential CPI increases can be requested, but will need to be approved by our Board of Directors as well.
The 2021-2022 school year marked students’ return to campus for the first time in almost two years. As students adjusted to in-person classes and activities, our undergraduate student representatives on the Brock University Senate advocated for increased support and accommodation and saw three major wins: the approval of self-reported absences, a tuition freeze for international students, and the extension of alternate grading options.
In light of changing public health guidelines surrounding isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms and community exposure, the Brock University Senate approved modification to the university’s medical exemption policy for students who were unwell for a period of three days or less. The new policy allows students to self-report their absence using the Medical Self-Declaration Form, instead of obtaining an official medical declaration from a licensed professional for both COVID-related and non-COVID-related absences.
Tuition Freeze for International Students
During the 2021-2022 school year, the Brock Senate also approved a tuition freeze for all international students which will eliminate the need to budget for annual fee increases and inflation. International students will now pay an amount equal to their first-year tuition during each year of their undergraduate studies. Furthermore, the adjusted policy also requires fees to remain steady for five years instead of the original four, allowing students one extra academic year to complete program requirements. This change will be implemented starting in spring/summer 2022.
Alternate Grading Options
First introduced during winter 2020, Brock’s grade flexibility options allowed students to choose how their grades were presented on their official transcript. This year, the Senate approved the extension of these grading options through the fall semester in recognition of the challenges students continued to face throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These options included maintaining the alpha/numeric grade assigned, replacing the alpha/numeric grade with a “Credit during Disruption” (CD) or “No Credit During Disruption” (ND), or withdrawing from the course without penalty as a “Withdrawal During Disruption” (WDD).
Food First & Free Breakfast Program
In an effort to address food insecurity amongst Brock students, we run the Food First food bank program, which saw a massive resurgence in use as we returned to in-person, on-campus learning this past year.
Food insecurity is when someone is unable to access quality food, be it for physical or economic reasons.
Food insecurity is extremely prevalent amongst university students. According to the 2021 National Student Food Insecurity Report, 56.8 per cent of students faced food insecurity, 60.4 per cent couldn’t afford to eat balanced or nutritious meals, 55 per cent relied on low-cost, unhealthy foods so as to not run out of money, and 32.4 per cent of students had to skip meals due to not having enough money for food.
The issue is worse amongst marginalized student communities, as it affects 82.6 per cent of students who are single parents, 74.8 per cent of students who require loans to pay their tuition, 74.5 per cent of international students, and 69.3 per cent of queer students, according to the 2021 National Student Food Insecurity Report.
Through the Food First food bank program, we provide students facing food insecurity with gift cards to a local grocery store. The program can be accessed by a student up to three times per semester.
With food insecurity affecting such a large portion of the undergraduate student community, and with the program seeing increased use as classes returned to in-person, on-campus delivery once again, we expanded the Food First program this year by also launching the Food First Free Breakfast Program.
Through the new free breakfast program, we provided breakfast for undergraduate students every Tuesday and Thursday during the month of March. The breakfasts were provided in bags, which included juice, yogurt, a granola bar, an apple, and a free coffee coupon to be used at the General Brock store.
The program was well received by students, and clearly made an impact on food insecurity. We received direct feedback from students who said that they couldn’t remember the last time they had eaten breakfast, and that our free breakfasts helped them remain more focussed during their morning classes.
We are proud to have been able to provide over 1,000 free breakfasts during the month of March through this new program, making it a massive success in our eyes, and something we hope to build on in the future.
Social Enterprises Reopening Summary
Due to COVID-19 and the University shut down, our Social Enterprises (Isaac’s, General Brock Convenience Store, and Union Station Food Court) were closed for 18 months. After reopening to students in September 2021, BUSU's business managers returned and began to build their operations from the ground up. The management team also organized several renovations to improve operations and keep businesses fresh.
BUSU businesses hired over 80 students, most of whom had never worked in a university environment before. These job opportunities allowed students to expand their university experience through employment, friendship, and opportunity.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, our businesses had to make several adjustments. Students and managers worked together to create a safe environment for both employees and guests. As additional students arrived on campus, some measures were re-assessed and altered as was deemed necessary. Towards the end of the academic year, restrictions continued to be lifted and university life began to resemble pre-pandemic activity with Isaac’s and General Brock hosting more in-person events.
If the trend of re-opening and fewer COVID-19 restrictions continues, we will be looking forward to entertaining students with programming and events once again. Further plans are underway to enhance student experiences on campus during the 2022-2023 school year. Additionally, our businesses will be operating during the Canada Games and using the opportunity to welcome people from all over Canada to Brock.
Similar to last year, our 2021-2022 elections and referenda took place completely virtually. During all three election periods, candidates ran their campaigns primarily through social media.
During the October election, voter turnout reached 17.3 per cent representing a 2 per cent increase from the prior year. This election saw Vanessa Fiorella elected to the BUSU Board of Directors and Sumin Oh elected to The Brock Press Board of Directors, as well as the passing of the by-laws referendum to increase the size of BUSU Board among other structural changes.
In February, students voted for their new BUSU Executives and Board of Directors. Due to a pause to conduct an external investigation, the Presidential and Vice President External Affairs races were pushed to April. With 17.5 per cent of students voting, Yasmine Hejazi and Andrea Lepage were elected Vice President, Student Services, and Vice President, Finance and Administration, respectively. This election also saw four members elected to the Board of Directors for a one-year term (Hannah Gray, Aleiah Torres, Mark Chrabalowski, Aishah Sonekan) and two members elected for two-year terms (Carleigh Charlton, James Maxwell-Barillas). During this election, students also voted to pass the Aboriginal Student Services (AbSS) referendum, which will secure AbSS approximately $200,000 of additional funding to support Indigenous students each year moving forward.
In the April election, students voted for their next BUSU President and Vice President, External Affairs, and acclaimed 16 At-Large BUSAC Councillors, five Faculty BUSAC Councillors, and three Student Senators for a two-year term. With a 9.7 per cent voter turnout, Faten Darbaj was elected President and Austin Hurley was re-elected Vice President, External Affairs. The following students were acclaimed as:
During the 2021-2022 academic year, we returned to operating transit at 100 per cent capacity compared to 50 per cent in the prior year. For students returning to campus, this meant all existing routes were running at their pre-pandemic frequencies. However, we also offered the opportunity to opt-out of the transit pass to students who were studying completely online during the fall semester. Plus we offered subsidized transit passes during spring and summer 2021/2022 for students who were enrolled in classes during that time.
Looking forward, Niagara Region plans to amalgamate all transit services by January 2023, which will provide students even greater and more convenient bus access throughout Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Grimsby, St. Catharines, and Thorold.
Details regarding pricing have not yet been decided, but we remain committed to providing reliable, affordable transit for Brock students and will provide further information as it becomes available.
Health and Dental Plan
Our health and dental plan provides medical coverage for undergraduate students to cover the costs of healthcare and pharmacy services. Students who already have comparable coverage have the opportunity to opt-out of this fee.
For those students on BUSU’s plan, we’ve been hard at work to continue improving your user experience. One of the most exciting developments we saw this year was the introduction of the digital benefits card, which can be used to save time and money at pharmacies, dental offices, and doctor’s offices. Available through the Medavie Blue Cross app, the digital card stores all of the information contained on the user profile and can be downloaded onto any smartphone. Each year after Sept. 1, students can log in and register to gain access to claims history, eligible benefits information, practitioner search, among other tools. The app can also be used in place of the physical card for direct billing to Medavie Blue Cross.
As always, the student health and dental plan coverage extends through the spring until Aug. 31, 2022. A full list of eligible expenses and claims details can be found on your student profile, along with other resources for finding the right professional to meet your healthcare needs.
New Student Centre Update
Through a referendum passed in the 2018-19 school year, Brock University’s undergraduate students approved a $36.50 per credit levy to be put towards a new on-campus Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) Student Centre.
The levy will be charged for 12 years for all full and part-time Brock University students, beginning after completion of the building, which is estimated to be roughly 45,000 square feet. After that 12-year period is over, the fee will be significantly reduced to $8.50 per student, per credit. If, upon completion of the building, the cost comes in under the initial budget, the $36.50 per-credit levy will be adjusted accordingly with any residual funds being returned to a BUSU capital reserve.
The new student centre will create spaces for studying, events, clubs, and lounging, will offer more after-hours accessibility to students, and will serve as a central base for BUSU and BUSU Services.
BUSU worked closely with Brock University to develop a shared Brock Health and Community Building (BHCB) throughout the 2019-20 school year as well as the first six months of 2021-22. This collaboration between Brock and BUSU resulted in a block diagram and cost estimate for the BSCB building, which includes the New BUSU Student Centre. BUSU also plans to retain the Student and Alumni Centre as part of this project.
In the fall of 2021, Brock University confirmed that there was no federal or provincial funding for the BHCB project to fund Brock’s portion of the cost. BUSU is moving forward with the development of a feasibility study, a cost estimate, as well as a financing plan for the New Student Centre on campus in the spring and summer of 2022.
Marketing & Communication Plan
During the creation of BUSU’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, student survey results showed a very strong average score of 4.2/5 as far as BUSU’s on-campus brand presence is concerned. Between the nearly 12,000 Brock students who follow BUSU on Instagram and our digital events that capture the community’s attention, BUSU’s marketing has become a central part of BUSU’s overall student engagement strategy. Despite all this progress, however, there are still a number of students who may not yet comprehend the full scope of BUSU. As such, a new Marketing & Communication Strategy will be implemented during 2022 in order to reflect the goals of the Strategic Plan.
In October 2021, local marketing agency, Hughes & Co. was hired to review BUSU’s marketing and communications, gather feedback from stakeholders, and work with our Marketing & Communications Team to create a new strategy going forward.
The New Plan is set to be completed by the end of May 2022, seeking approval from the BUSU Board of Directors, and will be implemented ahead of the 2022-23 school year. This Marketing & Communication Strategy will increase awareness by reaching students where they are online and through their preferred methods of traditional communications to better communicate the many services and programs BUSU has to offer to students. Listening and using student feedback will also help BUSU create an inclusive and diverse online community. In addition, the plan will aim to improve brand continuity and making the most of BUSU's available marketing and communication resources.
Website Redevelopment Project
In order to meet the goals of our Strategic Plan and new Marketing & Communications Strategy mentioned above, improving both the quality and engagement of BUSU’s website is necessary moving forward, and as such we are currently in the planning phase of a new website.
Our website redevelopment project will take place between May and August 2022. It will be an investment in our overall relationship with Brock students — and is set to improve existing website services, focus on creating a more user-friendly environment, and increase accessibility, all of which will help students find the information they need with ease. Student feedback will be collected during the website redevelopment project to ensure it meets student needs.