Women's Representation and UNBSU

This is a letter written by Shea MacLaughlin, the UNB Student Union's Women's Representative. 

The UNB Fredericton campus is fortunate to be hosting the Women for 50% Conference. This event was organized by a group of New Brunswick leaders for the purpose on shedding light on the need for greater female representation in the legislature, and with the additional aim of actually encouraging more women to run for office. The topic of women’s representation isn’t just important on a provincial scale but also at a UNBSU scale. The incoming council is 40% women, which isn’t bad but there is still work to be done.

 In a society where women continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles in many fields, the importance of events like this cannot be understated. There are many myths and misconceptions about why women are underrepresented in leadership roles, with some arguing that women simply do not want leadership roles, with others believing that women are not qualified to be leaders.

These beliefs are not only sexist, but also hint at deep seeded prejudices towards women and female leaders. The reality is that there are more complex barriers that prevent women from attaining leadership positions or running for office. Some of these reasons include the fact that women are still responsible for most of the household labour, and that women are less likely to be encouraged to take on leadership positions. Additionally, the aforementioned gender biases mean that female leaders women are forced to contend with double standards for their behaviour, meaning that they have to ensure they display a stoic and tough leadership style while simultaneously receiving backlash for being too tough.

 There are steps that can and must be taken to disrupt the status quo and promote the value of female leaders, in society and on a UNBSU level. To begin, we need to actively seek out and empower women to occupy leadership positions. The UNBSU can cooperate more closely with groups that serve women on this campus, groups like Women in Engineering, or have a stronger partnership with the UNB/STU Women’s Center.  Education on the value of women in leadership positions must also occur, and it must be made clear that having women in leadership positions is an essential step in creating a more inclusive, equal, and balanced society.

These are only a few suggestions, but the key takeaway is this: the promotion of female leadership is not solely a women’s issue. It is everyone’s responsibility to champion the value and role of female leaders, and to do their part to help build a more equitable society.

Open Letter: The Restructuring of Residence Life


On March 24th, the UNBSU presented the report below to the Joint Board Senate committee responsible for reviewing the restructuring. This report is a follow-up from the open letter to UNB administration seen below to ensure that the student voice is authentically heard at the table. The information in the report is a synopsis of both the work of the UNBSU and the results from the 285 survey responses collected. 


Attn: Dean Martin, Director of Residential Life

Mark Walma, Associate Vice President Student Services

George McLean, Vice President Academic UNB Fredericton

Re: The Restructuring of Residence Life

The UNB Student Union is writing you today on behalf our members, including proctors, in regards to the decision to remove Dons from residence and the communication surrounding said changes. The UNB Student Union supports and echoes the concerns raised by the Board of Proctors in regards to the lack of consultation, poor communication and unanswered questions surrounding the changes to residence life. 

The UNB Student Union acknowledges that the current residence structure is not perfect. However, we are vehemently against the reduction of support and increased pressure and responsibility on students without adequate compensation. We are concerned that the role of Senior Proctor will cause tensions within house teams and cause additional logistical and mental stress on those Proctors. We cannot support the reduction of direct access to support for residence leaders. Incoming proctors should not have had to sign a contract which no longer accurately depicts the position they had initially interviewed for. 

Our residence leaders are incredibly capable, mature and dedicated individuals. However, the UNBSU is concerned that reducing the amount of onsite, experienced adults will depreciate the feeling of security and support that role provides to both residents and proctors. Replacing 15 Dons with three coordinators reduces accessibility to this support system. Dons are members of the team, they are valued and trusted by proctors and students. Dons help build a community in residences, by removing them it is creating feelings of mistrust and confusion for residence leaders. 

The communication and consultation of these changes was completely inadequate and insensitive. Referencing a Quality Assurance Report conducted in 2014 which students did not understand the implications of does not substitute engaged student consultation. Authentic in person, online and group consultations would have provided more acceptable input and recommendations. Sending out an email during the middle of midterm season had serious emotional implications on Proctors and Dons and was disrespectful and inadequate. 

The adjustments to Residence Life staff have been conducted without proper consultation and has negatively impacted the student experience at UNB. The communication around this topic has been weak. These changes only add to a general distrust in the administration. The UNB Student Union requests a meaningful response to this letter and the document put forward by the Board of Proctors from the University. 


The UNB Student Union


NB Government Unveils Two Assistance Programs

The Government of New Brunswick announced two major financial assistance programs for students on Thursday afternoon. The provincial government has created a new program known as Tuition Relief for the Middle Class (TRMC). TRMC is a tuition bursary which is awarded based on family size and income. New Brunswick undergraduate students studying at publicly funded institutions will be eligible for this program, which shall be implemented on August 1st, 2017. Premier Gallant also unveiled an initiative that will extend healthcare coverage to international students studying in New Brunswick.

More Information:

Bylaw Adjustment

Over the past 8 months, the UNB Student Union reviewed the governing documents (bylaws) to ensure that they accurately reflect each position. As a result, the UNBSU is in the processes of amending Bylaws 1, sections 19 and 38-55. These sections outline Executive Councillor duties, Councillor duties, and councillor removal processes. For the executive positions, the bylaws have been amended to remove the specific duties of each of the executives and substitute it for a short description of the position. Each position will have a job description along with a contract to be signed at the beginning of the executive's term.

In order to distribute the workload more evenly, the VP External position will take on the advocacy portions of the VP Internal position and be renamed VP Advocacy. This allows the role to focus on advocacy efforts as a whole so as not to create excess overlap between positions.

Additional changes:

·         VP Student Services is being renamed VP Student Life to more accurately reflect the duties performed under the role.

·         VP Internal will take on the role of overseeing council, council chair and secretary from President.

The intention is to make the bylaws more reflective of the duties performed by these positions, to distribute the workload more evenly, and remove excess/redundancies within the bylaws. If passed, these changes would come into effect on May 1st, 2017. See the changes here.  If you have any questions or concerns email questions@unbsu.ca

Bylaw Adjustments

Draft Job Descriptions



You will likely see the #BreakTheSilence posters around campus.  These are designed to help remove the stigma around discussing sexualized violence and to create an environment that encourages discussions about how we can be proactive in making our campus a more safe environment for everybody.  

Before the introduction of the Sexual Assault Policy and Procedures at the University of New Brunswick, Dr. Lucia O’Sullivan, PhD Graduate Student Charlene Belu and Senior Director of Counselling Services Rice Fuller conducted a Climate Survey on Sexual Assault at UNB.  From October 2015 to February 2016, students participated in a survey that would open our community’s eyes to the reality of sexual assault at UNB.  It also gave students a secure forum through which they could anonymously disclose their experiences on campus - good, bad and ugly. The #BreakTheSilence campaign features 4 statistics from this survey;

  • In over 60% of sexual assault cases, both the student and the other individual had been drinking alcohol
  • 62% of students’ experiences of sexual violence occured in a home known to them
  • 90% of sexual assaults happened between two people who knew each other
  • 1 in 5 students experienced an incident of sexual assault since coming to UNB

While this survey uncovered this frightening information, it also featured slightly more encouraging information about the role of bystanders. For example;

  • 73% of respondents felt that the UNB administration would take a report of sexual assault seriously;
  • 93% of respondent said they would “stop having sex with a partner if they say to stop or imply to stop with their behaviour, even if it started consensually; and
  • 82% of respondents said they feel safe on campus.

 UNB recently released its first ever stand alone Sexual Assault Policy and Procedures document and has hired a Campus Sexual Assault Support Advocates for both campuses. The Student Union and UNB administration have partnered to show students how sexual assault has impacted our student body and to encourage campus community members to educate themselves about UNB's sexual assault procedures. By reading the Sexual Assault Policy and Procedures and knowing who your Campus Sexual Assault Support Advocate is, UNB will become a safer, more supportive place.

View the Sexual Assault Climate Survey Here.
See press release here.
See media coverage here.

Statistics from O'Sullivan, Belu, Fuller (2016), UNB Sexual Assault Climate Survey

Advocacy Weeks

Over the last two weeks, myself, Katie Beers (VP External), and Travis Daley (President), took to the New Brunswick Legislature and Parliament Hill in Ottawa to meet with politicians, senators, and other stakeholders about student issues.  As members of the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), we participate annually in these advocacy weeks. In order to achieve meaningful change on student issues, we join these collective organizations to have strength in numbers and diversity as well as to benefit from the research the full-time staff of these student organizations are able to do.

Through our provincial advocacy week with the NBSA, we were able to complete our biggest and most successful week to date.  We met with nearly 20 MLAs, university administrators and other stakeholders such as the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations. We were able to meet with the Liberal Caucus, Progressive Conservative Caucus and the Green Party Leader. During these meetings we took the time to go over our eight lobby asks of the provincial government and received good reception and feedback from government. These asks included the expansion of the Tuition Access Bursary to include a sliding scale, extending Medicare coverage to international students so they don’t have to pay for it and increasing funding for Mental Health spending in the province and dedicating a porting of that funding to Student Health Centres on campuses.  Each of these requests focused on increasing funding supports to Post Secondary Education to improve access and quality of life during study.

At the federal advocacy week with CASA we also experienced the organizations most successful lobby week yet, meeting with over 160 MPs, Ministers and Senators.  During these meetings we focused on nine issues surrounding Post Secondary Education funding support issues that the federal government could help alleviate. We talked about the grace period that students are eligible for upon graduation, during which students are able to take 6 months to get on their feet before having to start repaying their student loans. We asked the federal government to invest 26 million dollars to cover the cost of interest during this grace period to make it a more affective interest-free grace period. We asked the government to invest more money into the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSP) which allows access for Indigenous, Metis and Inuit students to access PSE. This would alleviate the 100,000 Indigenous, Metis and Inuit students who want to attend University or College but lack the funding.

In past years, through these advocacy weeks we were able to accomplish funding increases such as the Tuition Access Bursary, a 50% increase in Canada Student Grants and the Repayment Assistance Program so that students don’t have to start paying off their loans until they make $25,000 a year. Advocacy weeks are an important strategy focus our efforts to both help students and encourage the government to invest in our future employees, business owners and politicians. We’re happy to advocate for students and would love to hear any feedback you may have! Feel free to send me an email at external@unbsu.ca.


Katie Beers

Vice-President External

Fall Reading Week Plebiscite and By-Election Results

We would like to express our gratitude to UNB students for participating in our recent by-election and Fall Reading Week plebiscite.   We are happy to say that this by-election boasts the highest turnout in over half a decade.  The majority of students (97%) that participated in this plebiscite voted in favour of a continued push for a Fall Reading Week at UNB.  We believe that this is a signal to our council, to the UNB Administration and to President Eddy Campbell that students are seeking a sufficient break in the fall semester here at UNB.  We will proceed by working with the Registrar's Office, UNB Senate, and the appropriate committees to discuss implementing a Fall Reading Week at UNB.  We acknowledge that this is not a quick process; however, students have voiced their concern and it is imperative that the UNB Administration act accordingly.

New representatives were also elected to the UNB Student Union Council.  The following are your elected councillors: Brianne Washburn, Education Councillor; Emily McMillan, Nursing Councillor; Julija Rans, Inclusion Councillor; and Haley McLean, Accessibility Councillor.  We are pleased to welcome these newly elected councillors to represent their constituencies.

We would also like to acknowledge the efforts and hard work of our CRO and DCRO, Michael Liddiard and Nick Williams. These individuals ensured the smooth running of this election. We are very grateful for your support.

The UNBSU team has been working hard to guarantee a successful year for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Student Union about our advocacy efforts, the services, and entertainment opportunities we offer if you have any inquiries.


Herbert Bempah, Vice-President Internal

Welcome to Wellness: Remembering Carter

This post is written by a lifelong friend and UNB student, Emily Wright, in memory of Carter Asbell, and in honour of the enduring strength shown by his family, Gail, Dave, and Mason. 

In the past few years, talk about mental health has been on the rise, across Canada and across our own campus.  Through events like Bell Lets Talk, companies like Wear Your Label, and campaigns such as UNB’s #MyDefinition, stigma is being reduced and stereotypes are being eliminated.  Another note, I personally think is crucial, is people are finally learning that mental illnesses come in many shapes and sizes. For example, bi-polar disorder, eating disorders, and depression, (just to name a few) all look different on everyone – there is no standard.

Take Carter Asbell, a former UNB student and friend of many on campus, for example.  Although he was never officially diagnosed with depression, he ended his own life. I think I speak on behalf of all of his friends and family when I say that it was a shock. Words cannot do justice how full of life he was. His smile was infectious, and he made it his personal duty to bring joy to everyone. There is not a single person whose life is not enriched for having known him. This is why it still, to this day, boggles my mind that he died from suicide, because I had no idea the emotional pain he must have felt.

Since losing Carter, I’d like to think I have become more conscientious of both my actions and my words. You never know what someone is going through, and how casually throwing around “kill me now,” or “she’s so OCD” may affect them. This is why I’m overjoyed at how much more attention is being focused on mental illnesses, both in terms of media and research. The more we learn, the better equipped we will be, to both educate and cope. For example, a correlational study published in early 2016 suggests that individuals who received a concussion at some point in their life, had a long-term risk of suicide three times higher than that of the normal population (Fralick, Thiruchelvam, Tien, & Redelmeier, 2016). This is an important realization, that could help explain many circumstances, like Carter for example. He sustained numerous concussions from sport and play, and this could be a contributing factor towards the impulsiveness of his decision. The more we learn, the more questions we can answer, and the more we can understand.

I speak now to my fellow peers at UNB, because over time, suicides rate in our population have been increasing dramatically. As the semester continues, things will get busier, harder, and more stressful, but I beg you all to find time for your mental health, because nothing is more important. While getting the A+, beating your record, or going to that party, may seem like it’s a top priority, just remember that mental health will always be the foundation of your life.

If you’re ever feeling stressed, down, or anxious, I invite you to walk to the quad and take a seat on the metal bench with the number nine on the sides. This bench was placed in honour of Carter, and is open to all. It’s meant to be a place of fortitude and reminiscence. If you just need a quiet moment, or if you have someone of your own to remember, please sit there, knowing that it represents the spirit of someone beloved by many, and knowing that you are not alone. As Wentworth Miller said, “like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.” We all persist. 



Pictured above: Carter's friends on his bench in the Quad. 

Pictured above: Carter's friends on his bench in the Quad. 

Student Event Risk Management

As many student leaders are aware, the University has introduced a pilot program: Student Event Risk Management (SERM).  This program is led by a committee composed of a variety of different stakeholders from across campus, including our Vice President Finance & Operations, Grayson Beairsto, and President, Travis Daley. The UNBSU has been representing student concerns to this committee since it formed. One significant result of this program is that clubs and societies must now submit an event application form in order to booking space on campus. This is a common practice among many universities and allows the Student Union to be more aware of events taking place to provide additional support to clubs and societies.

Since the introduction of this program, students have raised many valid concerns.  We have worked to express these concerns to the committee.  Additionally, we ensured that the committee held a forum on the processes allowing students to directly vocalize their thoughts directly to the decision-making body. The UNBSU representatives requested the SERM committee commit to addressing the following points:

  • Make event organizing training more accessible to students by providing an online module available as soon as possible. In the meantime, student event planners can meet with the UNBSU VP Finance and Operation prior to submitting an application.

  • Redefine what is considered a high risk event based on attendance to eventually reduce the amount of applications needs to go to the committee.

  • Ensure all events are processed without bias and only the facts presented are considered in the approval processes.

  • That the application be as minimally demanding as possible for students.

  • That the committee’s sole job is to aid groups in reducing risk.

  • An appeals mechanism be put in place allowing students to challenge decisions.

  • That the UNBSU be treated as a partner and this process will not reduce autonomy

The committee as a whole was receptive to this feedback and has agreed to address it. Students should feel assured that the UNBSU is continually advocating on their behalf. If you have feedback in regards to SERM, please feel free to email questions@unbsu.ca

Wellness Week

Previously entitled Mental Health Week, The UNB Student Union is celebrating its first annual Wellness Week from October 3rd to October 7th!  Although Mental Health is a priority for UNB and the Student Union, general Wellness is pertinent and must be observed.  Wellness Week will allow UNB students to celebrate all other aspects of Wellness including Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Occupational & Social.  All students are encouraged to participate in the array of activities to be entered to win various prizes and raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick.  We look forward to seeing you at our first ever Wellness Week! 

Pub Tour Stance

Some of the best memories for  university students are those that they make during student organized events.  However, UNB wants to ensure that students are gaining those experiences in the safest and most memorable of ways.  The Student Union has never supported, endorsed or funded any pub tours as we don’t have insurance coverage and because of the many safety concerns involved.  Therefore, we understand the university's decision.  We know this will be disappointing for students and we are here to listen to your concerns.  If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact us at questions@unbsu.ca.