Message from the President
To My Dear Friends,
If you had told me the day after I was elected for this role, that the 2020-2021 academic year would be entirely online, I would not have believed you for a moment. Further, I would have probably asked how any valuable initiative could see itself to completion if our campus based operations were transferred to Zoom calls and Teams meetings. Our O-Week, reduced to a meeting link and a screen. Our Isaac’s nights, ceasing to exist. Or our advocacy campaigns success, without the interactive tables in Mackenzie Chown. To my delight, we managed to pull off incredibly impactful projects, such as our contribution to Mental Health and the COVID-19 Emergency Benefit. We also worked with architects to create the design for a 45,000 sq. ft. student centre and put the final touches on the long-awaited Zone Expansion, and so much more.
As this annual report aims to share with you, our team has been at work, ready to deliver on our commitments, as well as smoothen the bumps that the past year has created.
More importantly though, this report is a thank you, to you. Without your support, none of this would be possible. Even more powerful than our projects, was your resilience and attitude in facing each day with strength and positivity. Some days were tough. Actually, a lot of days were tough. I’d like to hope that the worst is behind us.
The road that has led you to where you are today has been a bigger test than anything a university degree or co-op placement could prepare you for, and yet you conquered even that. I am proud of you.
Our new vision at the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) to cultivate a generation that intently shapes the world. I am realizing more and more every day the importance of that vision. At the same, I am recognizing that our role will be minimal in that vision's actual fruition, because it is you who will push yourself to climb any mountain ahead of you--it has always been you. It is my understanding now that our role at BUSU is to maybe give you that small lift that gets you off the ground, and that is something we will always be ready to do.
Brock University Students’ Union
My name is Raadhiyah Zowmi, and over the past year I've had the incredible opportunity of serving as your Vice President, Student Services. While I understand this year has been far from easy, I am honoured to have had the opportunity to work with such dedicated, resilient students. I did not anticipate working virtually over the course of this term, and it came with its fair share of challenges and incredible opportunities. I was able to collaborate with various departments on campus, reinvent student programming with my team, as well as serve on so many wonderful committees, to name a few. I can't thank you all enough for this amazing year, and I can't wait to see what BUSU has in store for the next one!
2020-21 Vice President, Student Services
Brock University Students' Union
I'm Rafay, your 2020-21 Vice President of Finance & Administration. I act as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for BUSU and provide oversight to the Health & Dental Plan as well as the Universal Bus Pass. I also deal with internal affairs on campus and served as chair of the Undergraduate Student Senators Committee on the Brock University Senate, which is responsible for establishing and maintaining such faculties, schools, institutes, departments, chairs, and courses. This year we reduced student fees, contributed towards more mental health funding, introduced flexible grading options and International Home Country Health Coverage.
2020-21 Vice President, Finance and Administration
Brock University Students' Union
Message from the Board
This past year has been very challenging for everyone around the world, but I can definitely say that Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) has overcome these challenges to improve students’ experience in every possible way. From reduced ancillary fees to providing COVID-19 Emergency Benefits, BUSU have taken all the necessary actions to provide students with the help they need.
I would like to acknowledge our executives’ hard work and dedication towards Brock students. Regardless of circumstances, they continued to work towards major projects, while adapting to the unexpected situations due to the pandemic. As the first group of executives who transitioned into their positions after Brock moved only, they play a very important role in easing the path for the future elected executives.
At the Board, we have taken very important decisions this year, including the approval of Strategic Plan, that will shape how the organization will look like in coming years. This year, the Board has made sure that every dollar from students’ money is utilized in favor of students and all our decisions were based while keeping that in mind.
I want to thank all the Board members for their continuous effort in doing what’s right for students. Your hard work is appreciated. I can assure all the students that this Board is very dedicated, and we will keep it the same until the last day of our term.
2020-21 Chair of the Board
Brock University Students’ Union
Message from the GM
Dear Brock University Undergraduate Students,
The 2020-2021 year was unprecedented.
The Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) closed our food and beverage operations and operated the BUSU office remotely due to the Pandemic.
There was no buzz of students in the hallways. There was no in-person O-Week, Homecoming or Frost Week.
Despite the circumstances, BUSU had an extremely productive year delivering value for the Brock University undergraduate students.
BUSU worked with Brock University to open the expanded Fitness Centre and designed a new Student Centre. We also updated our Investment Policy and Strategy and launched our first Strategic Plan based on broad-based consultation. BUSU also worked on many other projects that are recapped in this Annual Report.
I would like to thank the BUSU staff for their efforts. They have demonstrated commitment, dedication, and tremendous resilience during COVID-19.
I would also like to commend the BUSU elected students on the Board, Executive and BUSAC. You did not sign-up to serve during a pandemic but you rose to the challenge and collectively worked to move the organization forward while supporting your fellow students during a very difficult year.
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 also believe that we moved our organization further toward our vision of cultivating a generation of students that intently shape our world.
Brock University Students’ Union
The Brock University Students’ Union Board of Directors is a branch of the elected student government within BUSU. The Board is the highest electoral body that governs the legislative documents, human resource, financial and legal decisions within the Students' Union. The Board meets bi-weekly throughout the year.
The Brock University Students' Administrative Council (BUSAC) is a branch of the elected student government within BUSU. BUSAC is an electoral body that governs over decisions such as club funding, capital requests, political policies, elections and has many committees that do great work across a number of spectrum's that BUSU oversees.
BUSAC's Committees include: Appeals, Clubs Policy, Governance/Elections, Finance/Sustainability and Referenda.
To learn more about BUSAC, please visit the BUSAC website.
The Brock University Senate is responsible for the educational policy of the university. The Student Senate Caucus is composed of six undergraduate students and a BUSU VP that are elected at large to represent the undergraduate student population in the Senate. These students are responsible for attending all meetings of the Senate and are assigned to the various committees ensuring students’ voices are well represented. To learn more about Senate committees, please visit our Senate and Board of Trustees website.
For the 2020-2021 year, the Student Senators focused on three main projects:
- Advocating to extend the winter break to better allow students to travel home to see family and safely quarantine upon return
- Reduction of third party software fees that many students were charged due to virtual learning
- Extension of compassion grading which allowed students to choose “Credit During Disruption” or “No Credit During Disruption” instead of taking a numeric grade.
In accordance with the Brock University Act, the Board of Trustees is responsible for the government, conduct, management and control of the University and of its property, revenues, expenditures, business and affairs.
To learn more, please visit Brock's Board of Trustees Website
Each BUSU Executive is a member of various committees throughout the Brock community. To see all committees each executive is a member of, simply click on the position you'd like to learn more about.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we have been diligently following public health guidelines, all while still providing the critical services that students depend on in a safe, alternative format.
Since March 2020, the world truly has not been the same. The onset of the pandemic threw everyone a major curveball, including us. However, once the magnitude of the situation became known, we were quick to act in the interest of the health and safety of our staff and our students.
For starters, on Thursday, March 12 we cancelled the Throwback Thursday event that had been scheduled to be held at Isaac’s Bar & Grill for students that evening. While no restrictions had yet been released by the government or Brock University at that time, we independently determined that the event posed a significant risk to health and safety and thus cancelled it.
The following day, in response to Brock’s decision to cancel face-to-face classes for the remainder of the semester, we outlined how BUSU operations would be altered as a result of the pandemic for the rest of the 2020 winter academic term. We announced the closure of our main office, all of our businesses, including Isaac’s Bar and Grill, Union Station and General Brock, the cancellation of all of our organized events and BUSU club events, and the decision to make the March 2020 BUSU elections fully digital.
This quick response required a great deal of coordination and compromise, but ultimately was in the best interest of our students, our staff and the community at large.
Since that announcement in March of last year, we have almost exclusively been working remotely. The minimal work that has been conducted in person has always been done in accordance with Brock’s lockdown restrictions as well as federal, provincial, and local government restrictions and guidelines.
For the first time ever, we also held BadgerFest and Frost Week events entirely online, in September 2020 and January 2021 respectively. While the offerings of both events were significantly altered in their delivery, both were rousing successes.
While we have been successfully able to adapt in the face of the evolving pandemic situation, we are all also eager to begin the transition process of returning to campus. Health and safety will remain a priority at all times as we prepare for an in-person fall 2021 semester.
Overall Fee Reduction
After Brock University announced an online 2020 fall semester and 2021 winter semester, we immediately began working to reduce ancillary fees. This year, the reduced ancillary fees helped alleviate some of the financial stress put onto students and ensured that the value we delivered to Badgers was reflected accurately in the fees they were charged. Overall, we saved students approximately $4 million this year.
At BUSU, we typically host on-campus events year-round that foster inclusivity and acceptance, however, COVID-19 curbed our in-person student engagement. With a decreased ability to entertain, connect, and enhance the Brock experience, we felt it was important to also reduce the ancillary fees that students were charged. The fees that remained were integral to the programs, opportunities, and services BUSU continued to offer throughout the remote school year.Reduced Fees:
|Fee||Original Cost||Revised Cost||Change|
|Engagement Levy (First Year Only)||$100/year||$75/year||-25%|
This fee allowed students to have access to the local St. Catharines transit system. Without this program, students would have to spend upwards of $1,200 on public transportation in a regular year. Although students were not on campus, it was important that students had access to reliable transportation throughout the year. Students continued to use public transit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for essential travel to and from work, home, appointments, and the grocery store. The Transit Fee was reduced 50 per cent, yet students continued to have full access to public transportation during the 2020/2021 school year.Federal Advocacy
The Federal Advocacy Fee provided us with funding that allowed us to advocate for undergraduate students to the federal government. This included lobbying and advocacy campaigns related to a wide variety of student issues. This fee was reduced by 50 per cent due to our limited ability to execute advocacy campaigns during the online semesters.Safety Fee
The Safety Fee funds the first aid team on campus. This fee was reduced by 50 per cent and the remaining fee was allocated towards ensuring that the first aid team’s resources and supplies were maintained and are ready to use when students return to campus.BrockTV
BrockTV is a student-powered online media outlet, which provides staff and volunteers with professional, skill-building, and leadership opportunities. The BrockTV Levy has been reduced by 25 per cent. The team at BrockTV has continued to create fantastic content throughout the 2020/2021 school year.Clubs Levy
The Clubs Levy provides funding for over 100 student-run and supported clubs and 600 different club events. We provide students with the tools and resources they need to start, manage or simply join a club that they are passionate about. The Clubs Levy was reduced by 25 per cent in order to reduce costs, while still allowing clubs to foster community and a sense of belonging among Badgers.Engagement Levy
The Engagement Levy provides funding for events and programming for first-year Brock students, to orient them with their campus and help them make new friends. This year students engaged entirely online via an online Welcome Week, Frost Week, and other various events throughout the year.Eliminated Fees:
|Fee||Original Cost||Revised Cost||Change|
|Zone Expansion Fee||$17.00/credit||$0.00/credit||-100%|
|Strategic Expansion||$5.50/ credit||$0.00/credit||-100%|
Last year, students voted in favour of funding the Zone Expansion project, which will see the Zone triple in size from 4,300 square feet to 15,500 square feet. The Zone Expansion Fee has been eliminated, although students will still have access to the completed facility when it is safe to do so.Strategic Expansion
The Strategic Expansion Fee supports major expansions and projects on our campus. The fund has previously been used to support the creation of our turf field which had a student contribution of $1M. The Strategic Expansion Fee was eliminated because there were no major expansions on campus this year.Green Levy
The Green Levy provides funding to reduce the environmental footprint of us Brock students, through efficiency improvements and student education. Although the Green Levy was eliminated, there were five new water stations installed on campus which students will be able to use when it is safe to do so.Deferred Maintenance
This fee supports repair and maintenance of Student Union assets including infrastructure Costs, (i.e. roof, plumbing, air conditioning systems, flooring, etc.), accessibility projects as required by AODA legislation, general repairs associated with wear and tear to the Student Alumni Centre, renovations to the Student Alumni Centre and other maintenance costs. This fee was eliminated; any maintenance that did occur during this year was funded by previously collected maintenance funds.Maintained Fees
|BUSU Operating Fee||$21.02/credit|
|The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)||$0.63/credit|
|Health and Dental Plan Fees||$161.82/year|
|World University Service of Canada (WUSC)||$0.56/credit|
The BUSU Fee funds the central operations at BUSU. Programs such as Food First and Drive Home, training for our BUSAC Councillors and Board of Directors, and wages for our staff and students on our marketing, finance, business operations and human resources teams are funded through this fee. This fee was maintained to ensure we could continue to deliver programming and resources to our students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.Capital Fund
The Capital Fund supports projects and capital purchases such as mechanical and construction work at the Student Alumni Centre and Isaac’s, and fridges, freezers, and food equipment for our business operations. Throughout the pandemic, Brock’s campus continued to be upgraded and enhanced.The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is a provincial lobby group that advocates on behalf of post-secondary students by creating student driven policy recommendations to the provincial government. The OSUA fee covers BUSU’s membership to the organization and ensures Brock’s undergraduate students are represented when policy is developed. Even though the school year was online, we continued to be active participants of OUSA. This year, we are writing papers on topics such as Student Health & Wellness, Environmental Sustainability and Housing, Transit & Community Development.Health and Dental Plan Fees
The Health and Dental Plan Fees extended medical coverage provided to undergraduate students for pharmacy and healthcare services. Students with comparable coverage have the opportunity to opt-out of this fee. These fees were not reduced to ensure that students continued to have access to health and dental care during the pandemic. International students also continued to have access to healthcare, even if they were not located in St. Catharines, via the Home Country Health and Dental Plan.World University Service of Canada (WUSC)
The WUSC (World University Service of Canada) directly funds the education of our students in the Student Refugee Sponsorship Program. Our students come from the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi and Syria. This fee was not reduced in order to ensure that these students had access to education despite the pandemic.
Transit Fee Reduction
Through effective negotiations, we were able to reduce the cost of the 2020-2021 UPASS by 50 per cent, putting money back in students’ pockets while still providing them with the critical service that they rely on.
First introduced for the 2003-2004 school year, the BUSU UPASS Program provides unlimited access for students during the full eight months of the fall and winter semesters to Niagara Region Transit.
Valued at $1,280.00, the UPASS is provided to students for just $272.32 during a normal school year. However, in response to the financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of the disruption to on-campus classes and other activities, we were able to reduce that fee for students to just $136.16 for the 2020-2021 school year.
This reduction in cost of the UPASS Program for students required a great deal of negotiation with our local community partners. The negotiation process was led primarily by Rafay Rehan, BUSU Vice-President, Finance and Administration, with the support of Asad Jalib, BUSU President.
This was only one part of a larger effort to reduce fees paid by students during this difficult and at times tumultuous year, putting more money in their pockets.
Across the board, we reduced Student Ancillary Fees by 35 to 40 per cent, resulting in savings of over $3.5 million for students. Some fees were eliminated entirely for the 2020-2021 school year, including the Zone Expansion Fee, the Strategic Expansion Fee, the Green Levy and the Deferred Maintenance Fee.
Others, including the UPASS Program, the Federal Advocacy Fee, the Safety Fee, the BrockTV Fee, the Clubs Levy and the Engagement Levy paid by first-year students, were all reduced by upwards of 25 per cent. We were able to still provide the critical services that students rely on, only in an altered form as a result of the pandemic.
On top of the savings that were secured for students on the UPASS Program fee and many others, we were also able to secure a 50 per cent discount for Niagara Regional Public Transit service during both the fall and winter reading weeks.
Ultimately, we are proud of the way we were able to put money back in student’s pockets in a responsible manner. The 50 per cent reduction in the UPASS Program fee that we negotiated for students, on top of other fee reductions, all while maintaining the services that students rely on was a major way that we could support students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021-2025 Strategic Plan will improve our ability to advocate for students in a variety of ways. Our Strategic Plan adheres to our values of inclusivity, leadership, accountability, fun, and integrity.
To create a comprehensive plan we were involved in nine community roundtables, one-on-one interviews with external stakeholders, discussions among our Board of Directors and staff, and extensive analysis of our governance and strategic documentation.
Our vision is “To foster an ever-improving Student Experience that is transformational, enriching, and empowering.” Our Strategic Plan to achieve this vision is based on four key concepts: “The Hedgehog Concept,” “Clock Building Not Time Telling,” “20 Mile March,” and “Preserving The Core.”
“The Hedgehog Concept” involves creating a transformative experience for students. To achieve this, we will enhance student engagement and empower students to grow during their time at Brock. The “Clock Building Not Time Telling” focuses on ensuring we are an institution that is not reliant on one change-maker but is an organization that will prosper for many decades to come. We will work to institutionalize continuity, optimize our governance model, and strive for organizational excellence. The “20 Mile March” ensures that our team is aware of their importance and has clear markers of success during their tenure at the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU). The “20 Mile March” also entails providing higher-quality student services and fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment. Lastly, “Preserving The Core” indicates we will focus on the foundational parts of providing a positive student experience to Badgers. We will build a new Student Centre to deliver more value to our students, and stimulate business on campus to create more jobs for students. These four pillars will serve as our guiding lights for the success, improvement, and prosperity of BUSU.
Going forward we will create action plans, measure performance indicators, improve planning efforts, focus on successful implementation, rise to upcoming challenges, and seek feedback from the students at Brock.
New Student Centre
Originally built in 1990 when the undergraduate population of Brock was 5,500, the Student Alumni Centre currently sits at 30,000 square feet, which is well under what would be the standard area-per-student ratio given Brock’s current undergraduate population, which has surpassed 17,000 students.
We are now in the process of building a second Student Centre that will be 45,000 square feet; it will not, however, replace the Student Centre of old, but rather add to the existing space, resulting in a total undergraduate student space of 75,000 square feet.
Below is a timeline outlining this extensive process:
- March 2019: 2018-19 BUSU President Aidan Hibma runs the referendum for the new Student and Alumni Centre.
- November 2019: 2019-20 BUSU President Bilal Khan becomes a member of the Brock University Architect Evaluation Team.
- April 2020: First meeting with design consultants B+H Architects and McCallum Sather Architects Inc.
- November 2020: 2020-21 BUSU President Asad Jalib and 2019-20 Vice-President of Finance Rafay Rehan complete the functional space program and block diagram for the new building.
After conducting a survey of current Brock University students, we concluded that the most important priorities among students are: a 24/7 study space, private study spaces, coffee shops, relaxation areas, an on-campus pharmacy, a sports lounge, a massage room, a convenience store, professional development areas, a legal clinic, and a theatre.
The new Student Centre can be broken down into three main categories; (1) Study Space, which will consist of quiet study areas, collaborative study areas, bookable meeting rooms, feature space, and event storage; and (2) Amenities, which will include The Studio, BrockTV, The General Store, a coffee shop, a demonstration kitchen, Halal food services, the Student Justice Centre, and the Ombudsman; and (3) Offices, which will consist of individual offices for all Executives, Directors, the General Manager, Accounting Assistants, Graphic Designer, a Health and Dental office, as well as two shared offices and meeting rooms.
A breakdown of the amount of space dedicated to each of the above categories is below:
- Study Space — 1,674 net sq. m./18,008 net sq. ft.
- Amenities — 688 net sq. m./7,416 net sq. ft.
- Offices — 425 net sq. m/4,575 net sq. ft.
The numbers above add up to a total of 2,787 net square feet/29,999 total net square metres. The photo above shows a floor plan of the BUSU administrative offices, while the photo to the right breaks down the floor-by-floor layout across each of the four floors of the new Student Centre in addition to the basement.
The quiet study spaces will be designed for individual study, the group study areas will be designed for collaboration, while the active study areas will be designed with the goal of creating a comfortable environment for students to engage with each other. All the spaces will be enhanced with thoughtful implementations of colours, lighting, and furniture. The individual study spaces and the collaborative study spaces will be located on different floors, in order not to disrupt the quiet nature of individual studying. This will also be reflected in the design of the floors.
Highlights of the new amenity spaces include The Studio: a dance studio to be used by Brock Improv, Brock Dance, and Brock Musical Theatre, among other groups. BrockTV will also have their own space in the Student Centre, including an office as well as a green screen room and a sound booth.
The new Student Centre will provide all Brock University students with a state-of-the-art space complete with multiple floors dedicated to both individual and group studying, multiple new amenities to enjoy, an array of services aimed to provide assistance, as well as a place where they can feel at home on campus.
The Zone Expansion
In what is certainly the largest project we undertook this past year, we oversaw the completion of The Zone Fitness Centre — hereby referred to as The Zone, or Zone — expansion project, a project that began roughly three years ago. The completed expansion saw The Zone more than triple in size, growing from 4,200 square feet to 15,500 square feet.
At 4,200 square feet, the previous Zone was the smallest fitness centre among all Ontario universities.
The project began in March of 2018, when former BUSU Presidents Patrick Foster (2016-17) and Faisal Hejazi (2017-18) ran the successful Zone Fitness Centre Referendum which officially laid the groundwork for the future expansion.
In October of that same year, the first design meeting was held with the architect firm McCallum Sather, with 2018-19 BUSU President Aidan Himba and 2018-19 Vice President of Finances and Administration (VPFA) Bilal Khan serving on the Design Team.
April 24, 2019 saw the official groundbreaking ceremony take place within the Welch Courtyard, while the first construction meeting was held in August with Aquicon Construction serving as Construction Manager. 2019-20 BUSU President Bilal Khan and then 2019-20 VPFA Asad Jalib served as part of the Construction Team.
Construction officially began on July 31, with The Zone temporarily closing from August 6-30 for preliminary construction work. A series of detours were put in place on Aug. 21 allowing for students to safely navigate the Walker Sports Complex while the construction team continued to move forward with construction.
The Zone was closed once more on September 3, 2019 and remained closed until Sep. 16. The remainder of the Fall 2019 semester saw several additional detours and closures to accommodate for the newly-erected steel structures that would be the base for the expanded Zone. Areas that were affected by these detours included both the upper and lower levels of the Walker Sports Complex, in addition to the Scotiabank Hall and the South Block.
Construction of The Zone continued into the new year, with the interior structural work that caused many of the Fall closures being finalized in January 2020 in addition to continued work on The Zone’s roof.
The project took an unforeseen turn when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Brock to close in March 2020. On Mar. 13, Brock University closed indefinitely and announced that all classes would be shifted to an exclusively online format. Not long after that, construction on The Zone was put on hold due to COVID-related concerns in early April.
On May 4, updated government regulations allowed the project to continue. In June, The Zone’s main concrete floor was poured. Painting began in September of 2020, with flooring and railing installation following shortly after. Equipment was placed in The Zone in December 2020 right as Ontario went into a government-ordered provincial lockdown which included several stay-at-home orders.
In February of 2021, after nearly a year since the onset of the pandemic, the provincial lockdown was lifted in many parts of Ontario, including the Niagara region. Henceforth, The Zone was allowed to officially open for students.
In addition to the extra 11,000-plus square feet of space, the new Zone features a significant amount of new equipment for students and members to enjoy. The equipment was thoughtfully selected by a Brock-BUSU-GSA team, in which President Asad Jalib served on behalf of BUSU.
The Zone now sees four full dumbbell sets — ranging from 20 lbs to 100 lbs — instead of the previous two sets, nine half racks instead of the previous six, as well as eight Olympic bench presses consisting of four flat presses, two incline presses, one decline press and one military press. Previously there was only one decline bench that shared use with the half racks.
The new Zone also sees over 600 lbs of bumper plates for each half rack; previously there were no existing bumper plates. There are now eight lifting platforms (up from one in the Zone of old), over 17,000 lbs worth of new plates and free weights, 13 treadmills (up from nine), 16 cross trainers (up from 10), four stair climbers (up from two), two eight station cable units (up from one) as well as over 30 pieces of stationary, resistance training machinery. New yoga and spin studios have also been implemented, as well as multiple sections of indoor turf designed for more metabolic training.
Throughout this project we shared several updates regarding the construction through our social media pages, with Instagram videos being shared in August and September of 2019 as well as April, May, and August of 2020.
On March 8 2021, the Zone officially opened to the student body. Sessions to train in the new space were fully booked within 10 minutes of being open. On this day, BUSU and Brock shared videos of the space and a news story. The videos and story became viral instantly, with over 10K views within a few hours, ultimately being one of the most engaging content released all year.
Since the start of this project back in March of 2018, we have successfully funded, designed, and constructed The Zone Expansion Project while having to navigate a global pandemic during the final stretch of the project. With The Zone’s renovations now complete, we have provided students with a top-tier fitness facility that will be used by generations of Brock students to come.
BUSU Celebrates it's 50th Anniversary
To view our 50th Anniversary mini-site, complete with our Interactive timeline, please use the button below.
BadgerFest is our annual orientation week, welcoming new and returning students to the Brock campus and community. From September 7 to 11, 2020, undergraduate students could participate in BadgerFest online - a first in the organization’s 50-year history.
Traditionally, BadgerFest allows first-year students to bond with their roommates and residence neighbours while participating in various events and activities. Through these events, students are presented with opportunities to engage with Brock’s numerous departments, services and resources, as well as BUSU Clubs - the university’s largest body of volunteer-run student groups.
The budget for BadgerFest, determined in May, 2020, was set at $100,000.
Our virtual events allowed students to interact with one another, from the safety of their homes. While we anticipated a decrease in participation in comparison to previous years, the engagement and feedback from those who attended was extremely positive. We saw upwards of 300 students participate in BadgerFest, with Dirty Bingo and Escape Games being the most popular events. The transition to virtual events allowed us to explore new ways of providing engagement opportunities between students, clubs, services and community partners. For example, Vendor Fair, which involves BUSU and Brock departments, and community vendors, was transferred to an online platform to ensure students were well informed about what Brock has to offer.
Along with over 30 fellow Canadian post-secondary institutions, we partnered with the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities (COCA) to host a virtual concert and had a terrific turnout. The concert was headlined by Lennon Stella and featured artists such as The Reklaws, Tyson Ritter, A Tribe Called Red, Roy Woods and Pink Sweat$.
The following lists each event we held as part of our 2020 Virtual BadgerFest:
- Sep. 1-7: Daily Photo Challenge
- Sep. 8-11: Virtual Vendor Fair
- Sep. 8-11: We Got Game E-sports Tournament
- Sep. 8: Dirty Bingo (featuring drag entertainer Vanity a la Mode, with special community members present to promote sexual health)
- Sep. 9: Game Shows and JR LaRose (in partnership with Brock HRE)
- Sep. 10: Clubs Fair (with hourly activities featuring different Brock clubs)
- Sep. 10: COCA Virtual Concert
- Sep. 11: Virtual Variety Night (featuring Mighty Mike, Kobbler Jay and the Monsters of Schlock)
BadgerFest’s first-ever virtual event had its set of unique challenges and learning opportunities, but we were able to effectively adapt to the “new normal,” which resulted in another successful welcoming of Brock students.
For the first time ever, we hosted an entirely virtual Frost Week. From Monday, January 11 to Thursday, January 14 undergraduate students were invited to participate in a variety of online events in order to ease into the new year.
During virtual Frost Week students were able to make friends online and connect with their peers, just as they would during an in-person Frost Week. We adapted to the COVID-19 restrictions by hosting online events that engaged students from all over Ontario. Students were receptive to the virtual Frost Week and gave positive feedback regarding the delivery of the online events.
The events held during virtual Frost Week saw an average of 50 student attendees. The most popular event was BUSU Bingo and Music Bingo. Students were rewarded for yelling “Bingo!” as well as getting up and dancing, which made for lots of laughs among the participating students and BUSU staff. Among Us was also a hit among attendees and fostered friendly competition among the Badgers who tuned in. Throughout the week, BUSU gave away $2,000 worth of prizes to students.
This year, Frost Week cost just under $6,000, which was a significant reduction compared to years prior. This budget was allocated towards funding the giveaways and prizes and the software to host the virtual events.
Aside from connecting students to one another, Frost Week allowed BUSU to interact with students in a casual setting and share information about the various services that the students’ union offers. Frost Week was the perfect opportunity for BUSU to connect with students so that we could understand the difficulties Brock students were facing and advocate for Badgers this year, even from afar.
- Monday, January 11: Music Bingo with Mitch Masters (X-Events)
- Tuesday, January 12: Among Us Sessions (one at lunch, one in the evening)
- Wednesday, January 13: Clubs’ Digital Scavenger Hunt
- Thursday, January 14: Delving Deeper: Anti-Black Racism Town Hall with Black-Identified Students; Deal or No Deal with Mitch Masters (X-Events)
12 Days of BUSU
Since December of 2015, we have dedicated 12 days leading into the holiday season to give back to Brock students by giving them an opportunity to win prizes through a variety of contests and daily challenges.
The overall success of this year’s campaign was incredible. Multiple contests on Instagram saw over 1000 comments and likes, which is significantly higher than usual. The campaign also provided us the opportunity to highlight various sub-departments within BUSU, such as BUSU Events, BUSU Advocacy, BUSU Clubs, and BrockTV. Each of these departments sponsored one of the 12 Days. Additionally, all of the above departments saw their own Instagram accounts gain over 100 new followers during the course of their sponsored day.
The 12 day event not only increased awareness among students within the Brock community but also allowed us to give back to students in a fun and engaging way during the holiday season.
The prizes, ranging from small items like notebooks to more expensive items such as a pair of Apple Airpod Pros, were given out for 12 consecutive days beginning on Dec. 1 and ending on the 12.
The theme of each day, as well as their challenges and accompanying prizes are listed as follows:
Dec. 1: “Taking Care of Business”
Challenge: comment your favourite study tip on BUSU’s Day 1 Instagram post.
Prize: RocketBook Smart Notebook prize pack.
Dec. 2: “House of Cards” — $100 ‘Support Local’ gift card
Challenge: take or create a holiday card using Instagram story features, post it on your Instagram story while tagging @BrockBUSUClubs.
Prize: $100 ‘Support Local’ gift card.
Dec. 3: “There Are Badgers Among Us”
Challenge: play the hit game ‘Among Us’ with BUSU executives over Zoom.
Prize: $25 Amazon gift card awarded to the winner of each game.
Dec. 4: “3-Point Contest”
Challenge: on Instagram, tag a friend who you would beat in a game of basketball.
Prize: an arcade-style ‘pop-a-shot’ stand.
Dec. 5: “Holiday Movie Madness”
Challenge: comment your favourite holiday movie on BUSU’s Day 5 Instagram post.
Prize: a digital projector, a 100-inch screen, and a Netflix gift card.
Dec. 6: “Chef Santa”
Challenge: share your favourite holiday meal in the Instagram comments below.
Prize: $100 Sobeys gift card and reusable shopping bags.
Dec. 7: “Bingo!”
Challenge: participate in a game of Dirty Bingo featuring Vanity a la Mode over Zoom.
Prize: five $100 gift cards.
Dec. 8: “To Health and Happiness”
Challenge: share your favourite tip on how to relax and recharge over winter break while also following @BUSUadvocacy on Instagram.
Prize: $200 Wellness pack including a weighted blanket.
Dec. 9: “Dinner’s On Me”
Challenge: tag three friends in the comments of BUSU’s Day 9 Instagram post.
Prize: $100 DoorDash gift card plus a $25 DoorDash gift card for each friend tagged.
Dec. 10: “Love is in the Airpods”
Challenge: comment your favourite song of 2020 on BUSU’s Day 10 Instagram post.
Prize: a pair of Apple AirPod Pros.
Dec. 11: “24K Gold”
Challenge: create and post a short holiday-themed video on Instagram or TikTok, while using the hashtag #12DaysBTV.
Prize: A 55-inch 4K LG Ultra-HD TV.
Dec. 12: “Santa’s Watch-ing”
Challenge: sign up for BUSU’s email mailing list.
Prize: Apple Watch Series 6.
In order to have been eligible for each of the prizes, the entrant had to be a current, undergraduate student at Brock University. They also had to be following BUSU on Instagram, @brockbusu, while having submitted their entry before 11:59 p.m., EST, on the respective day.
Wellness Week occurs once per fall and once per winter semester. This year, Wellness Week took place November 23 - 27, 2020 and March 15 - 19, 2021.
The aim of Wellness Week was to highlight different aspects of wellness: mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual. These weeks provide events that are connected to Brock’s services, such as Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre, Recreation, Human Rights and Equity, Dining and Student Life. We also provided special events with external partners and clubs.
This year we saw impressive turnout, despite the Wellness Weeks being primarily online. There were over 150 students in attendance at our synchronous events, more than 200 views on the fall cooking demonstration, over 100 Wellness Wishes submitted, and 300 comments or shares on @busuevents or @brockbusu Instagram posts relating to Wellness Week.
This year we offered both synchronous and asynchronous virtual activities for students, as well as one in-person event. We allocated $17,000 to Wellness Week this year. Of that amount, $9,500 was spent: $3,500 for Dr. Jess; $6,000 for giveaways, including Wellness Wishes.Events:
Bowling Night at Parkway Social, November 26, 2020: in a partnership with Parkway Social in St. Catharines, ON, we were able to offer students a night of bowling. Nine teams (34 students total) participated in this event. This was a rare chance during the COVID-19 pandemic to bring students together for an in-person activity, and we received lots of positive feedback.
Cooking demonstrations with Brock Dining Services, November 25, 2020 and March 18, 2021: Chef Nick and Yvanna, the in-house dietician, hosted two live cooking demonstrations. In November Chef Nick showed how to upgrade a student staple, ramen noodles, from one meal to three dishes and leftovers; in March, he showed how to turn a prepared, store-bought chicken, into three delicious meals.
Let’s Talk Sex with Dr. Jess, March 16, 2021: We invited Dr. Jess, a Toronto-based sexologist and relationship expert, to answer questions submitted by students about sexual health and relationships. The informative evening provided students with an open-forum and safe space to have their questions answered.
Jack Talk with Jack.org special guests, March 18, 2021: With the Jack.org Brock chapter, we hosted two guest speakers from Jack.org, both undergraduate students and mental health advocates. The event provided a safe space for open discussion about mental health while providing insightful details on the mental health spectrum and resources available to students.
Wellness Wishes, both semesters: Wellness Wishes provided students with an opportunity to make a wish that will assist them on their wellness journey. Students could submit a wish for themselves or a friend. After the wishes were submitted, we would review them and grant ones that helped students with their goals. Wishes ranged from spa days to improving healthy eating to fitness.
BUSU Clubs adapted to the online environment and presented innovative ideas, events, and student engagement opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year we had a record-breaking 119 clubs operating. As of March 2021, there have been over 1000 club events hosted. This milestone marks another record-breaking achievement for BUSU Clubs. Club engagement has increased an impressive 80 per cent since the 2019-2020 school year. This is due to the ease of attending online events, and increased advertising opportunities via social media platforms.
Despite being run virtually, clubs offered an engaging and positive environment for students to grow, learn and connect with one another. The virtual setting has allowed clubs to interact differently, and with this new form of interaction, many students found themselves developing stronger bonds and heightening their technical skill sets. During this year BUSU Clubs used Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Instagram Live, Discord, and Twitch to connect with students online.
During the pandemic, it was even more important to highlight the various involvement opportunities clubs offer, such as socials, workshops, competitions, professional development, and community engagement. This year students were not able to connect in-person, but online clubs ensured Badgers still felt a sense of belonging and connection as they tackled the online school year.
At BUSU, we believe that student advocacy starts with amplifying students’ voices and taking action based on students’ needs. In order to advance students’ interests we conduct student consultations, feedback surveys, as well as interact with students via direct messages and one-on-one meetings. Additionally, we take opportunities to present students’ concerns to the provincial and municipal government, as well as Brock’s administration and stakeholders. Student advocacy at Brock is essential in order to improve students’ extracurricular, engagement, learning, and professional growth opportunities.
In September 2020, we introduced the BUSU Advocacy Instagram account (@busuadvocacy). The increased dedication to advocacy on our social media is part of our five-year Strategic Plan. This account shares advocacy initiatives and awareness with students. Since launching this account, we’ve seen excellent engagement; we’ve reached over 1000 followers, with an average of 250 interactions per post, and a high of 16,000 interactions on a single post. Additionally, hundreds of students have participated in our social media contests.
Through Instagram, we’ve also been able to answer dozens of questions and concerns via direct messages. For example, when we received several complaints about students paying for third party fees for their online courses, we released a survey to collect more data on the number of students affected by this issue. After this data was collected, we collaborated with our student senate representatives to take steps in order to help reduce those fees going forward. This is just one of the many examples of how advocacy affects Badgers and how we stayed connected to Brock students during the remote school year.
- The Advocacy Levy referendum was passed, which now gives us the ability to better spend student dollars on advocacy initiatives.
- The Hungry for Change campaign that raised food insecurity awareness, promoted the Food First program and connected students with community resources.
- We participated in “16 Days of Activism” and brought in Sophia Sidarous as an Indigenous rights speaker.
- Highlighted the four OUSA policy papers that passed at the general assembly.
- Ran Sustainability Week campaign to highlight the BUSU Green Levy, Brock Sustainability, Niagara Region recycling tips, Brock Eco initiatives and several giveaways.
- Advocacy for sexual violence policies to be more trauma-informed, survivor-centric and evidence based came to fruition with amendments to Ontario Regulation 131/16.
This year, we installed 26 dispenser and disposal units across Brock’s campus to improve equitable access to menstrual products at Brock. Through a partnership with the Human Rights and Equity Office and Facilities Management, we were able to install six menstrual product vending machines and 19 Hygeia Personal Hygiene Disposal Units on campus.
The new disposal units are touch-free and are more hygienic than traditional disposal methods, which will help protect the students that are using them. The newly installed units offer hygienic, safe, and efficient access to menstrual products on campus. The units are located in high traffic areas across campus, like the Rankin Family Pavilion and Market dining hall. They are located in three female washrooms, two male washrooms, and one gender-neutral washroom. We believe it is important that equitable and safe access to menstrual products is afforded to all students on campus. That is why we prioritized installing these units in male, female, and gender-neutral washrooms, while also ensuring that the units were high-quality and reliable for students.
At BUSU, we believe that fighting the Pink Tax is important to ensure equality and equity on campus. The Pink Tax charges women more for products than what is charged for the male equivalent. By offering free menstrual products, we hope to reduce the amount of money those who require menstrual products spend on these necessary products. Equitable access to menstrual products ensures that students feel safe, confident, and empowered to access the menstrual health products they need.
We highly value menstrual equity on campus and were eager to roll this project out so that all students had access to menstrual products and were able to take care of their menstrual health without facing accessibility or financial barriers.
In October of 2020, we began collaborating with Brock University on the Food First Program in order to address food insecurity amongst Brock students.
Food insecurity is when an individual lacks the ability to access quality food, be it for physical or economic reasons, according to Meal Exchange.
This issue is extremely prevalent amongst university students. According to a report by Meal Exchange, nearly two in five Canadian students have experienced food insecurity at some point. 30.7 per cent of students experienced moderate food insecurity while another 8.3 per cent experienced severe food insecurity.
The issue is worse amongst BIPOC students, as 56.4 per cent of Indigenous students and 41.9 per cent of racialized students have experienced food insecurity, as well as 55 per cent of those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. These statistics are ultimately what inspired us to first open a food bank on campus over five years ago.
The Food First Program was designed to help students who are experiencing food insecurity by providing them with immediate access to food, as well as additional community resources to support them in obtaining and maintaining long term access.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students were provided gift cards for Walmart instead of food items. This allowed students to maintain physical distancing and respect public health guidelines. Gift cards also allowed students in need to order groceries online and have them delivered.
This year, we collaborated with Brock University to launch a brand new website for the Food First program, making it easier and more intuitive for students to navigate. The new portal includes a simple form for students to fill out in order to request a Walmart gift card. The program operates on the honour system, in order to ensure that support is easily and quickly accessible to those in need when they need it.
The site also has a new donation page for Brock staff, alumni and community members who are willing and able to donate towards the important program. Since we began accepting donations in September, we have received over$10,000 from members of the Brock community. 100 per cent of the money that is donated is spent on purchasing additional gift cards for students.
Additionally, in November of 2020, BUSU Advocacy ran the Hungry for Change Campaign. This campaign complemented the Food First Program by highlighting student food insecurity across Canada and at Brock more specifically. It also encouraged those in need to check out the program and request a gift card if they are experiencing food insecurity.
Since September, we have provided 246 gift cards to students experiencing food insecurity, equalling $6150 in financial support provided directly to those in need when they needed it, so as to allow them to maintain a well-balanced diet.
Going forward, the hope is to continue to expand the Food First Program with the help of the generous financial support provided by the Graduate Students’ Association, who we continue to work with on this important project, and donations from Brock staff, alumni and community members. Working together, we can help to end food insecurity amongst the Brock student body.
New Water Stations
In collaboration with Brock University, we have installed five more water stations across campus with the financial support of the Green Levy.
Students at Brock can easily refill their reusable water bottles at one of the 66 environmentally sustainable water stations found on campus. Since the first water station installation in 2015, the water stations have diverted 6.2 million plastic water bottles from landfills. The five new stations are easily accessible and are located in areas that previously had no efficient way to fill up reusable water bottles. The stations are in East Academic Level 1 and Level 3, Welch Hall Level 1 and Level 3, and Thistle Complex’s North Corridor.
The water stations were made possible by funding from the Green Levy. The cost of a Single Pedestal Unit was $1,575.00. Brock University paid for the installation of the units, while the Green Levy funded the units.
The Green Levy was originally passed in 2010 in order to secure more funding for environmental sustainability projects on campus. Since 2010, the Green Levy has been spent on a variety of projects to improve environmental sustainability on campus. Some of these projects include reusable coffee cups at General Brock, glass Tupperware and water bottle giveaways, and biodegradable cutlery at Union Station.
In 2020, BUSU brought the Green Levy to referendum again in order to change the memorandum of understanding. The revised memorandum of understanding allows us to hire student staff specifically to focus on planning and rolling out environmental initiatives. The additional support offered by the revised memorandum of understanding allows for larger, more impactful sustainability projects on campus.
Our approach to environmental sustainability on campus is two-pronged. Firstly, we aid in the development and implementation of environmentally sustainable projects on campus. Secondly, we ensure students are well educated on the Green Levy, the various environmental sustainability initiatives that are occurring on campus, and how to adhere to the recycling and organic waste disposal expectations in the Niagara Region. In January, we led a sustainability campaign to spread the word about the new water stations as well as other sustainability initiatives on campus. Through both action and education, we have demonstrated our commitment to improving environmental sustainability at Brock.
Elections and Referenda
As the pandemic turned everything we do here at BUSU on its head, we were required to adapt virtually on all fronts, including how we ran our student elections and referenda.
The first elections that were held during the 2020-2021 academic year were in October. This by-election was intended to fill a handful of vacancies and doubled as a trial run for the executive election in February.
This year it was necessary to address the issue of not being able to campaign in person, as had traditionally been done in the past and made up the vast majority of the campaigning done in our previous elections.
In response to this pandemic-altered reality we faced, it was a priority for us at BUSU to ensure candidates and their campaigns were as visible to the student body as possible. This was to ensure the greatest level of election and transparency possible as well as to help us reach our required voter turnout level, or quorum, of 12 per cent.
Voter turnout in the October elections reached 15 per cent. While this was lower in comparison to previous elections we have held, we achieved a quorum, which allowed the results of the elections to be verified.
There were also three referenda held as part of the October by-election. The first of these, the Advocacy Levy, which saw the terms of the memorandum of understanding changed in order to allow us at BUSU to engage in broader advocacy work. This referendum passed with a vote of 81.2 per cent. This ultimately means the hiring of more student staff members and increasing our advocacy department’s capacity. The Advocacy Levy will allow us to better represent students and continue to advocate for students’ needs.
The second referendum was on the Green Levy, which changed the terms of the memorandum of understanding of the levy to allow the hiring of student staff and the expansion of environmental sustainability efforts on campus. We are excited to say that his referendum also passed, with a vote of 83.9 per cent. This levy had helped fund refillable water stations across campus, the installation of LED lights in Union Station, the Garden Greenhouse and many more eco-friendly initiatives on campus.
Lastly, the referendum on the Student Justice Centre asked students to pay into a new $2.75 per credit levy to fund the centre. As with the other two referenda, this one passed as well, with a vote of 57.5 per cent. The revenue generated from this new levy will be used to support the centre in hiring more student staff, increase programming, and host more workshops.
Our general election in February, wherein candidates ran for the four student executive positions and the Directors of the Board positions, were a rousing success with voter turnout of approximately 30 per cent. We had 20 candidates running for the various positions in the February executive elections. This was an impressive number of candidates and rallied substantial voter turnout. Despite the pandemic and the barriers that the candidates faced, this was the fourth highest level of turnout in our history. We were eager to support the candidates and their campaigns in being as visible to the student body as possible, which is ultimately what contributed to the voter turnout.
A single referendum was held during the February executive elections. The referendum on BrockTV asked students if they wanted to continue paying the $3.28 per credit BrockTV levy. This levy was already in place, however, it expires every five years, so it needed to be renewed. This referendum passed, with a vote of 50.4 per cent. By renewing this levy, this ensures BrockTV will continue to be able to employ 15 students, as well as provide high quality video production and other related services to BUSU and the Brock community at large.
Shortly after the February executive elections, we had the March BUSAC elections, wherein we were able to refine our online election approach and ultimately pull off what we believe to be our most smooth election of the 2020-2021 school year.
In March, we were thrilled to have a total of 28 candidates campaigning for seats on BUSAC and Brock Senate. Although our voter turnout was lower (approximately 13 percent), we witnessed very engaged candidates throughout the 9 campaign days.
All in all, we are happy to report that the elections and referenda we held during this unprecedented 2020-2021 school year were a success.
Student Justice Centre
In October of 2020, Student Justice Centre (SJC) successfully passed the referendum for the Student Justice Centre Levy; a $2.75 per credit charge levied to all Brock University undergraduate students, both full and part-time, for all academic sessions.
This levy will allow the SJC to continue their anti-oppression work on campus, while also expanding operations beyond their existing programming. This new funding will help create several new student jobs, which will enable the SJC to provide support, advocacy, and referrals for students who have been impacted by systematic issues such as racism, and transphobia.
The new funds will also be utilized to cover the costs of:
- Educative events such as workshops and campaigns.
- Programming such as events, speaker series and panel discussions.
- Drop-in and appointment peer-to-peer listening and support services.
- Funding and organizing support for students doing social justice projects and initiatives.
- Maintenance of a drop-in centre that provides a safe and supportive space for students.
- Operating an online and in-house social justice resource hub.
The SJC made significant progress over the past year by successfully passing the levy, which was led by VPSS Raadhiyah Zowmi, in addition to expanding current operations. Additionally, the SJC greatly expanded their social media presence, particularly on Instagram this year.
Two successful campaigns were run by the SJC this past year; the Culture Not A Costume Anti-Racism Campaign was a three-week long social media campaign aimed to teach students about problematic costumes that are often seen around Halloween. The SJC provided educational resources such as articles, videos, and blogs to explain in depth the origins of Blackface and cultural appropriation, as well as why such costumes are oppressive and harmful. The second successful campaign was in collaborating with Human Rights and Anti-Racism Advisor, Kattawe Henry, and Brock Cares (Brock Student Life) to provide students a workshop about issues outlined above, entitled ‘Be Spooky, Not Racist!’
The SJC’s purpose is to challenge systematic oppressions while fostering a culture of safety and inclusion within Brock University; they represent student voices on numerous committees and provide support to those leading social change projects. To do so, the SJC offers a myriad of opportunities for students to get involved on campus by offering paid workshop facilitations, internships and other work placements, learning opportunities/skill-building clinics, to name a few.
The SJC also provides a safe space on campus for students to drop in to study or relax in a welcoming atmosphere. Usually located in the Thistle complex, the past year has seen all of the SJC’s usual, in-person programming move online due to COVID-19. Despite the pandemic, the SJC continues to offer educational and engaging opportunities for Brock students, albeit in a digital format.
The SJC also acts as a safe space for BIPOC students. Anti-racism education is at the heart of the SJC’s programming. The SJC offers many anti-racism workshops, events and campaigns that centre BIPOC voices and experiences. The aim of many of these workshops is to create spaces where BIPOC students feel safe to discuss and share their experiences.
The SJC continues to advocate for students through their work on various committees, including: Brock Human Rights & Equity; Sexual Violence Prevention Committee; Brock 2SLGBTQ+ Pride Week 2021 Planning Committee, Niagara Trans Support Network; and Campus Climate Survey.
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is an alliance of eight different colleges and universities across Ontario. OUSA represents over 150,000 undergraduate students and carries out a variety of advocacy initiatives to improve post-secondary students’ experience. OUSA creates change by voicing the concerns of students directly to the provincial government. This year, the concerns voiced to MPP were primarily about financial aid, racial equity, and mental health on post-secondary campuses.
In 2020, OUSA released three major policy papers on “Rural & Northern Students,” “International Students and International Education,” and “Gender-Based & Sexual Violence Prevention & Response.” The Quality of Education Survey and Ontario Undergraduate Student Survey was also conducted this year to collect information about the remote learning experience of post-secondary students and provide data that would serve as the foundation for future advocacy initiatives.
At BUSU, we work with OUSA to develop policy, meet with members of the provincial parliament, and work on various advocacy initiatives. Additionally, we were actively involved in authoring and researching OUSA’s first environmental sustainability paper this year. We also partook in The Perspectives on Campus Campaign by OUSA. This campaign featured BUSU’s Clubs Coordinator, Karyssa Chan, who discussed racial bias and equity on campus.
During OUSA’s Advocacy Weeks in November, BUSU’s Research and Policy Writer, Hope Tuff-Berg, met with 12 Members of Provincial Parliament. Tuff-Berg presented Brock’s students’ concerns and offered policy recommendations for the provincial government. Tuff-Berg’s research was centric around student financial aid, the quality of education that students were receiving, racial equity on campus, and students’ mental health. Additional delegates from BUSU also participated in this event to share their research and policy recommendations.
OUSA is just one of the ways that we elevate student voices. We were thrilled to be involved in the authorship of OUSA’s first environmental sustainability and partake in The Perspectives on Campus Campaign.
Mental Health Contribution
This year has put an incredible strain on our students’ mental health and well-being. We recognized this struggle and prioritized improving the mental health resources at Brock this year. We contributed $160,000 towards Brock’s Student Mental Health Fund, and an additional $30,000 was matched by an anonymous donor, totalling $190,000.
“We recognize this year has been extremely hard on students and that’s why we are making investments that will have the greatest positive impact on our students’ mental health,” said VPFA Rafay Rehan.
We previously committed to contributing $320,000 over the span of two years towards mental health services on campus. In light of the pandemic and the increased need for mental health resources, we decided to extend the initiative for an additional $190,000 to help fund the additional mental health supports offered this year.
This money will be allocated to increasing and improving mental health resources, programs and awareness. Connecting with professional help and clinical support staff will be made easier, more efficient, and more accessible to all students via virtual offerings. Additionally, we will be funding one full-time mental health counsellor, one full-time nurse, as well as workshops and other various campaigns throughout the year.
“Investing in mental health resources is of the utmost importance to BUSU. Not only do we understand and hear students’ needs, but we act accordingly to ensure we deliver on our promise and mission to serve the students of Brock University,” said BUSU President Asad Jalib.
For those seeking mental health and wellbeing support visit https://brocku.ca/mental-health/.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial stress for many students. We took action to help alleviate this stress by contributing $100,000 to the Brock University Undergraduate Student Emergency Bursary, which launched in April 2020. This bursary allowed students that were experiencing financial hardships to apply online for a one-time, $500 bursary. Students have received this bursary on a first-come, first-serve basis, and could apply online through their OneApp via my.brocku.ca. Although this funding was unplanned, President Asad Jalib saw the need for increased funding to support students during the unprecedented year and acted accordingly.
“One of the ways we achieve our mission as BUSU is by deeply understanding the evolving needs of students. At the same time we provide resources to enrich students’ journeys,” said Jalib.
Students’ journeys look very different this year than in any year prior. We adapted to the unique barriers that students were facing this year and took action to provide them with much-needed financial support. We were aware that many students were unable to find employment since the onset of the pandemic, which left students without sufficient funding for groceries, living expenses, tuition and more.
“The student employment rate has decreased dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic leaving students with a shortfall of funds available. With this investment we will be able to support many students that have been financially impacted by COVID-19,” said Jalib.
Throughout the pandemic, the financial well-being of our students remained a priority. The additional contribution of $100,000 to the Brock University Undergraduate Student Emergency Bursary is just one of the ways we financially supported students throughout the pandemic.
Recently, we have been working to minimize our cash reserves and increase our investment returns by changing our investment policy. The changes that we have made will help us to increase our investment income, which will ultimately reduce our reliance on student fees, resulting in sizable benefits for students.
Currently, we are required to carry surplus funds for a variety of reasons. One of those is to support the self-insured BUSU Health and Dental Program.
Another is because we operate the Student and Alumni Centre and so we are required to carry surplus to support the regular maintenance and continued operations of that building.
Lastly, we also carry a surplus in the Strategic Expansion Fund, which we use to support major construction projects that are in our interest to support, such as the artificial turf field, the Matheson Learning Commons, the Walker Complex and others.
However, through working with public accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP and TD Investment, we have been able to change our investment policy, in order to reduce the cash reserves that we have had to maintain at any given time while also increasing our returns.
In more specific terms, this should result in us earning an extra $350,000 in investment income per annum, based on the past three-year rolling average returns.
What this should mean in the long term is that we will be able to reduce our reliance on student fees, as we will be able to strategically allocate the portion of the cash reserves that will be available to us now through the changes we make to our investment policy, as well as the investment income that we earn annually on an ongoing basis.
This will provide us a considerable amount of financial stability in the face of changing public policy and governmental contexts. This will also allow us to financially plan with more certainty going into the future.
Most importantly, it will also significantly benefit students over the long term, as we will be in a position where we will less have to rely on student fees for our funding. This will let students keep more money in their pockets, while still allowing us to provide the services that they expect from us, rely on and enjoy.
In an effort to keep our staff and students safe, we closed our business operations for the 2020-2021 year. The business management team rallied together in new and unique ways in order to adapt to the changing circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, a fresh food market was initiated to dispense all perishable inventory to student front line staff. The team completed a month of professional development which was facilitated by the Food and Beverage Team.
The Food and Beverage Team then turned to making some long overdue improvements to Union Station and Isaac’s Bar and Grill. The back of house area was repainted, reorganized, and updated while Isaac’s Bar and Grill’s main bar, DJ booth, and outdoor patio space were enhanced with minor DIY projects completed by Lyndsay Bradford, Jess Carey, Ray Hayhurst, and Dave O’Connor. Union Station was beautified with murals painted by a local St. Catharines artist, creating an inviting and “Instagrammable” area for students when they return to campus.
In addition to the upgrades made to the existing food and beverage spaces at Brock, in November of 2020, we completed the Functional Program for the new Student Centre building. This new building will be 45,000 square feet and include a larger General Brock location, a coffee shop and a Halal food location.
In December of 2020, we approved our new Strategic Plan that defines our business operations as social enterprises. The Strategic Plan recommends that our businesses break-even financially and stimulate more student jobs, maximize food options on campus, and strive for environmental sustainability.
We are currently working with CoCo’s Fresh Tea and Juice and Brock University to transform the Common Grounds Cafe in the Matheson Learning Commons into a bubble tea shop. We are also working with Harvey’s and Brock University to refresh Harvey's location in Union Station for the fall of 2021.
The BUSU Social Enterprise Team looks forward to resuming operations and welcoming students back in the fall of 2021.
Our team at the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) hopes that this Annual Report provides a glance into some of the major projects we took on this past year. Of course, we recognize that a report like this is not exhaustive; so we want to thank our staff, governance leaders, and executives for everything that was not captured in this report, as well as the team at The Brock Press who compiled the content contained within this report. With the year drawing to a close, the future looks bright. A motivated and prepared executive team stands ready, with our staff and governance leaders by their side, to ensure that your 2021-2022 year provides you with all the memories, joys and supports that you need to succeed at Brock.
We thank you sincerely for all your support this past year, and wish you best on the road ahead. This is your 2020-2021 Brock University Students’ Union team signing off one last time.
Brock University Students’ Union