An Open Letter to McGill Concerning the Future of the Off Campus Fellows Program
The Off Campus Fellows Program (OCF) is a service designed to help integrate first year students living off campus to the McGill and Montreal communities. OCF hosts an assortment of social events that facilitate interaction between first year students and establishes a meaningful network for those not living in McGill Residences. OCF is a valuable resource providing support specifically oriented towards first year students living off campus, a resource that currently has no other analogue at McGill, nor under SSMU Clubs and Services.
This past year, OCF has organized
a variety of events, including but not limited to Off Campus Fest, an
alternative to RezFest with over 450 participants, question and answer periods,
visits to McGill sporting events, apartment crawls, picnics, potlucks, a coffee
house, pub crawls, music festival visits, and performance art showcases. These
events focused on accessibility with regards to location, price, and targeted
demographic, and were done with little to no operating budget.
OCF directly engages with
over 3000 first year students while using minimal McGill resources. The program
currently operates out of McGill Residence Life, which is under Student Housing
and Hospitality Services, but has not been renewed for another year and there
have been no measures taken to guarantee the placement of the program under an
alternative, relevant supervising department at the University.
We, the Off-Campus Fellows
and other supporters of OCF, write this letter with the hope that the
University will take action to ensure the continuation of this program.
Considering that McGill University does not currently have any other program
that explicitly services first year off campus students, the implications of
losing this program are substantial. Without action to ensure that
responsibility for the OCF Program is moved from Residence Life to another
department, OCF and the services it provides to half of the first year student
population will no longer exist. Furthermore, the removal of this program could
place an unnecessary burden on other student services such as First Year
Council, McGill International Students Network, McGill Mental Health, academic
advising offices, etc.
We, the undersigned, firmly believe that the OCF program has made a significant contribution to the McGill community and has enhanced the lives of students living off campus. We wholeheartedly support any and all efforts made to promote the existence of this program next year and in all future years, and feel that this program is an integral part of the well-being of many students in their first year at McGill University.