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Brainstorming for a superior student experience

- April 19, 2013

Students sharing ideas at LINK. (Chris Parent photo)
Students sharing ideas at LINK. (Chris Parent photo)

A spark of an idea — that’s all it takes.

On Saturday, April 13, the McInnes Room played host to 65 members of the Dal community at the first LINK (Lightbulb Ideas, Networking, Knowledge), an event planned by the DSU and Dalhousie Student Services to promote communication, collaboration, and community between student leaders for the upcoming school year.

“We wanted to be proactive and preemptive in getting folks to link together,” says outgoing DSU president Jamie Arron. “To get beyond the traditional silos and not just fall back into the same old routines, and think together about what a visionary first-year student experience should look like.”

Though everyone was encouraged to attend, egged on with Pete’s ToGoGo sandwiches, targeted invites were sent out to members on residence councils, Residence Life staff, international students, varsity councils and athletes, first-year students, and Student Services staff. The DSU executives wanted to ensure there was a “mix of key people in the room.”

Participants shared their stories and experiences as Dalhousie students in a World Café style, brainstorming their ideas on giant light bulbs that served as centerpieces for the tables. They were then asked how to actually carry these visions forward — how to take the ideas, link up with other similar ones, and create action plans.

The incoming DSU VP Internal, Ramz Aziz, stressed the importance of, “changing the culture of the campus.”

Others were also on board with transforming the culture surrounding Dalhousie, not just for first-years, but for all faculty and staff, community members and students.

As a Halifax native who’s lived his life “in two postal codes,” incoming DSU President Sagar Jha says a big part of his vision for Dalhousie is to “change the perception of students within the greater community of Halifax.”

“The perception of Dal students is one of two things: one of them is ‘partiers,’” he says. “The other one is ‘people who bother me for one day of the year for money for a cause that they don’t really understand, called Shinerama.’”

In addition to strengthening the community connection, some other key themes emerged: more school spirit at varsity games, providing safe environments for people to have fun, connecting the DSU and Residence Life, more creative programming and more off-campus programming.

“Ultimately, this event is about you guys,” Arron said to the crowd. “It’s not about giving your ideas to someone else to go and act. This event is about you guys connecting with each other and bringing those ideas to light.”

The success of the event itself was proof that all it takes is a spark. “It was just an idea,” says incoming DASSS president, and LINK organizer, Taylor Quinn. “Have some food; hopefully people will come during exams. And, yeah, people showed up.”


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