Preparing the troops: BUSU’s annual retreat

BUSU arranges an annual retreat every summer in order to provide newly hired and returning members of BUSU and BUSAC with training. Within these couple of days, all members get together at Brock University to participate in mentorship and bonding practices to facilitate the day-to-day routines that will continue from September through April.

The annual BUSU (Brock University’s Student Union) and BUSAC (Brock University Student Administrative Council) joint-retreat has already taken place this summer in order to prepare for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year and provide a well trained team, ready to represent the student body.
On Saturday July 25 and Sunday July 26, the 2015 retreat took place.

“[There are] 40 plus people on our administrative council that are elected by faculty” said Kyle Rose, BUSU President. “Our executive team was there, our government operations staff was there, including our chief returning officer, our full-time staff member that handles government operations and our general manager.”

The retreat focuses on ensuring that staff members get to know each other, and feel comfortable with the responsibilities and positions they are required to uphold, as well as being familiarized with the staff and each individual’s position.

Photo courtesy of BUSU

Photo courtesy of BUSU

“We started off with registrations; we did team building and then each executive went through their platform as well as the updates on what we’ve accomplished thus far. We had two groups: returning councillors had a governance and standing orders centred meeting and the new councillors had a governance 101 meeting that explained the hierarchy of the organization as well as the capacity to which they serve as BUSAC councillors. [Also], for the returning councillors there was a brief conversation around the standing orders, so kind of going off of last year where are we and where would we like to take the direction of the council, etc.” explained Rose.

BUSAC speaker, Chris Ventura also stated:“As for BUSAC, [we] really focused on team building and creating a well prepared set of new, incoming councillors, and working with returning councillors to pick their brains and gain some insights from many perspectives on last year’s council. We also completed a full mock committee meeting, complete with a club presentation designed to be a teaching moment from one of our councillors, as well as a full mock meeting run through. Judging by the diversity of councillors that put their names forward for the various committees this upcoming year, I would say our training was very successful and meaningful to develop confidence within our new councillors.”

Along with team building activities, the retreat also fixated itself on demonstrating what regular day-to-day tasks will be like throughout the year and how to accomplish them.

“We had an introduction to the different committees of BUSAC as well as a mock committee meeting so that council members can get a feel of what it would actually be like to be in a committee meeting, like the responsibilities and common occurrences” stated Rose.

Though most of the retreat consisted of mentorship practices, relevant issues and goals for the new school year were discussed throughout the retreat to ensure that members of BUSU and BUSAC are knowledgeable in this manner.

“One thing we’re potentially looking at is reevaluating the responsibility of the councillors, but we are actively reviewing that right now, and that was one of the discussion topics from that conversation,” said Rose.

This annual retreat is of high importance in order to ensure staff members have a broad understanding on what life as a BUSU/BUSAC participant is like.

“It’s really good for new councillors because unfortunately, some of the folks that end up running and getting elected don’t really read the by-law, or are particularly well acquainted with repertoires of order and governance structure and things of that nature. Its really good to have a case study experience for learning the kind of feel to it so you can really get an understanding of how you conduct yourself in a meeting and what the committees are like” said Rose.

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