Upholding a mandate to represent all undergraduates enrolled in the Desautels Faculty of Management, MUS arguably extends farther than the walls of the Bronfman building. Hosting over thirty-five committees, eleven clubs, and multiple case competitions, students from almost every faculty have engaged in MUS-related activities. The faculty prides itself on having the highest rate of student participaton, with roughly fifty percent of Management students involved in MUS clubs. Despite having won Faculty Association of the Year five times since 2006, the 2015-2016 year has been difficult for the MUS. In November, President Eli Lubendo resigned, spiraling into a somewhat tumultuous year for the faculty. Rachel Burk was elected MUS President on February 18, becoming the first female MUS president since 2011. She sat down with the Bull & Bear to discuss her upcoming year as the head of the MUS.
B&B: Tell us a bit about yourself.
RB: “I’m from Kitchener, Ontario and am currently a U2, majoring in Marketing. I got involved with the MUS in my U0 year as an academic competitor at Jeux du Commerce Central Case Competition (JDCC) and as a Desautels Management Achievement Awards (DMAA) ambassador. I’m currently the Vice President of Conferences and Competitions for the MUS, represented McGill at the Champions Trophy Case Competition at the University of Auckland, competed academically at JDCC, and am a member of the Management Consulting Association.”
B&B: Why did you choose to get involved with the MUS?
RB: “Many people don’t know this about me, but during my first year at McGill I strongly considered transferring to a different university. I’ll skip to the moral of this story: my MUS involvement is what made me feel as though I belonged at McGill. It is how I made my first real friends here, and how I began to feel like a business student, rather than a connoisseur of random U0 electives. It was through my MUS involvement that I fell in love with McGill and with the Faculty of Management, and it is because of what getting involved in the MUS did for me – and what I want to help the MUS do for other students – that helped me decide to run for President.”
B&B: In your opinion, what differentiates the MUS from other faculty associations?
RB: “What sets the MUS apart from other faculty associations is our student body. This month, the MUS released our fall involvement package, and we received over one thousand applications. MUS members have also added a new conference, competition, Business Review, and six new clubs. Our students take advantage of the opportunities offered to them, and they have the initiative to create and foster new opportunities. We are a small faculty with a large impact, and that impact is made possible by our students.”
B&B: How do you react to claims regarding the somewhat exclusive nature of the Faculty of Management? How can the MUS change going forward?
RB: “Exclusivity is so often used as a synonym for being restrictive or discriminating, but I think the Management Faculty rewards those who are driven. Our faculty does not restrict, and it does not discriminate – it does, however, require you to strive for success. I believe that a culture wherein students are encouraged to improve and are allowed to feel pride in their accomplishments is a culture that should be fostered, rather than stifled. That being said, I recognize that who we are as a faculty and who we are perceived to be may not be one in the same. Bringing perception closer to reality is a matter of both inviting other faculties into Bronfman, and leaving Bronfman at the invitation of other faculties. There really is no one ‘management student’, just as there is no one ‘arts student’, or ‘Montrealer’ or ‘Canadian’, for that matter.”
B&B: You are the first female president of the MUS in over five years, which has previously been criticized for a lack of female representation. Do you feel as though you have a personal stake in representing women within the MUS?*
RB: “While I am not the first female President of the MUS, I do recognize that I am the first in some time, and that the MUS has been percieved as an ‘all boys club’ in the past. However, I do not share that view, nor do I believe that my gender should play any part in what it means to to be a successful MUS President. I have a personal stake in representing all people within the MUS, regardless of their gender. I do not intend to stand out from my predecessors because I am female, and thus it means little to me to be a female President – what matters to me is being an effective President.”
B&B: You acted as MUS VP Conferences and Competitions this year. As a whole, what would you say were the biggest challenges faced by the MUS?
RB: “The greatest challenge is the same one faced by the MUS every year, and that is determining how we can add the most value for the most students. That is one of the things I am most excited about for next year: finding that room for improvement in order to become a better resource, and in order to add even more value for even more students.”
After the interview, we discussed Burk’s plans for the upcoming year. Burk seeks to continue expanding student engagement within the faculty via “improved awareness and access to resources both within and external to the MUS”. By ensuring a smooth transition not only for herself but for the rest of the MUS team as well as future MUS Execs, Burk also hopes to emphasize sustainability through continuity. By improving policies, codifying exit report and transition documents, and working towards more streamlined financial planning and reporting, she hopes to endow the MUS with a sustainable level of strength and growth. Though set on the aforementioned overarching goals, Burks will be turning to the student body to help steer her towards the changes they wish to see within the faculty.
“I highly encourage all students to share with the MUS their input, their thoughts, and their suggestions either through our feedback form, direct emails, or by coming by to visit us during office hours. The MUS exists for the students, and when it changes it should change to better meet the needs of the students.”
Though the past year was turbulent for the faculty, the 2015-2016 Executive Council succeeded in laying the groundwork for a more financially sustainable future. With a mid-year change in leadership, this year’s MUS team were faced with enacting a contingency plan, which they will expand into the upcoming school year for a more fluid transition of executive members.
With September right around the corner and this years events still fresh in Bronfman’s mind, the student body is ready to see what’s in store for the upcoming school year under Burk’s leadership.
*Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Burk as one of the first female MUS Presidents while in fact she is the first female MUS President since 2011.