Welcome Week has passed, students are settled, but one student group’s presence is noticeably absent from campus: the Inter-Residence Council.

On May 11, 2016, the IRC received a letter from the dean of students Sean Van Koughnett and director of Housing and Conference Services Kevin Beatty, which stated that their organization would no longer be a university-recognized group on campus.

According to the letter the IRC sent out to all IRC Welcome Week reps, “[the dean of students’ office] had made this decision as a result of a financial review of the IRC by the University’s Internal Audit department conducted at the request of the Dean of Students, past policy violations by the IRC, and the events leading up to the IRC’s organizational ‘pause’ in 2014-2015.” The IRC executive team is currently in the process of appealing this decision, and should have an answer by the end of this semester.

The IRC served as the representative voice of on-campus students, who aimed to facilitate community among residences through programming. The IRC held events such as the IRC formal, were credited with extending Centro hours during exam periods, as well as giving out IRC clipboards and creating a yearbook.

Despite being on hiatus, students still pay the IRC fee, which was confirmed by McMaster Students Union president Justin Monaco-Barnes during the Student Representative Assembly meeting on Sept. 11 during the question period. The university is collecting that money.

This is not the first time the IRC has been shut down. In Dec. 2014, the IRC was also shut down briefly as it went through restructuring to better the organization of the group. This restructuring involved the creation of more volunteer positions and a shift towards advocacy and providing first-year and residence students ways to get involved.

It was also during that school year that members of the IRC were accused of committing sexual assault on campus, as reported by McMaster’s Security Services crime beat website on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. It is unclear whether these allegations have any connections to the 2014 shutdown.

The IRC also has a history of issues relating to their budget. For example, in the 2014-2015 school year, the IRC spent $68,592 on honorariums for those involved, $17,000 on the IRC clipboards while spending $36,100 on residence programming.

When asked about the dysfunction of the group, IRC president Nikhil Kumar stated, “What we feel is that the actions of individual people should not reflect on the entire organization, as the organization didn’t do or promote anything about that.”

Kumar did not go into the details of the dysfunction itself.

When the Silhouette approached dean of students Sean Van Koughnett if he was available to make a statement, he responded that he would not be able to comment until after the appeals process due to the confidentiality of the appeals process.

For the foreseeable future, the IRC’s status remains up in the air while the group’s executive team appeals the dean of students’ decision. It is still unclear whether or not the financial audit or the allegations of dysfunction are more to blame, but will be made clear through the appeal.


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September is a month of novelty—new faces around campus, new courses, new clubs. Among these changes is the return of the Inter-Residence Council (IRC), the organization that represents students living in residence.

The IRC is now functioning fully after a hiatus of event activities from October 2014 to the end of the 2014-15 academic year due to internal restructuring. Nisha Depa, the newly elected IRC President and a fourth year Life Sciences student, is excited to see the changes implemented.

Among these changes is the addition of four vice presidential positions for every residence: advocacy, promotions, administration and yearbook.

This system is similar to that implemented at Guelph, where an upper year fills a mentor position for a council made up of residence students. The goal is to encourage incoming student participation as well as grant students the opportunity to volunteer in positions that do not require the same time commitment as some larger roles.

Changes to IRC bylaws state that two of these positions are filled through an election process while the other two are hired.

In the past, the IRC has operated based on the two main themes of advocacy and programming. A survey distributed to students in residence last year highlighted a demand for greater advocacy. Results showed that only 56 percent of students claimed that they felt they had adequate opportunity to voice their opinions. This gave rise to a new position for Vice President Advocacy and Leadership Development.

When asked about what responsibilities the roles will comprise, Depa explained that the Vice Presidents are working closely with the Director of Housing to create a consultation framework to process requests for issues like more study rooms.

“We have added guidelines into training for event planners to encourage bigger events […] that students can’t plan on their own,” said Gurteg Singh, a fourth year Life Science student and the VP Communications for IRC.

“First year event planner positions allow students to contribute to their own experience in contrast to an upper year planning events for them,” added Depa.

This year there will also be a greater focus on leadership. Changes in this direction are taking place with the addition of new VP, volunteer positions, and the creation of the Students in Residence Fund (SIRF).

“SIRF is a new initiative where students can choose where to [allocate] the money coming out of their residence fees. […] Students can apply for initiatives they are interested in, that then go through the finance committee in order to get passed.”

Along with changes in structure come changes in funding allocation: residences will receive a budget proportional to the size of their student body. Additionally, the IRC has decreased its sub-committees as some delegations have been absorbed into larger groups.

The IRC has come a long way from last October. Events were better organized during this year’s Welcome Week, though not without kinks, like the delay in the Tug of War event.

Despite these few hiccups, the IRC seems to be well-prepared to welcome new students to McMaster and encourage them to get involved with the community in which they live.

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