By Derek Baker —
As a University of Calgary student, you belong to the Students’ Union. Whether or not you notice, the SU will play a substantial role in your university experience over the next four-plus years. Their job is to promote our interests to university administration and the government, run programs for students and plan events.
The SU’s members are elected by the student body every year. In February, the SU’s annual election campaign will be in full swing. Walls will be plastered with posters and costumed candidates will run around campus begging for your vote. Almost everyone hates this time of year — you will too.
Some people dismiss elected officials as people who are only trying to pad their resumés with these titles. There’s definitely some students like this, but there’s actually a lot of work that goes into these positions. The decisions they make in the interest of students are to enhance the oft-lauded student experiences at the U of C. If you really want to know what’s going on, drop by Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) meetings every Tuesday night to sit in the gallery with people like me who like to complain about anything and everything. Who knows — maybe you too will become one of the Hyper-Engaged™.
PRESIDENT — Branden Cave
The head honcho. The big cheese. Our beloved leader — all phrases that have probably never been used to describe this position. Still, Cave is the public face of the organization this upcoming year. He also maintains official relations with the university and votes on the Board of Governors. Cave will be working hard to represent the organization — and thus, all of us — so give him props if you see him around campus.
VP EXTERNAL — Shibur Shaikh
The vice-president external is the SU’s professional schmoozer. Shaikh spends more time than any other executive jetting around the country, wearing fancy suits and shaking politicians hands as he promotes student issues at all levels of government. But the most effective way to ensure students’ concerns are heard in government is to vote, and much of Shaikh’s portfolio this year will be gearing up student participation in the municipal election.
VP OP-FI — Ryan Wallace
You pay fees to belong to the SU every semester — and someone needs to sign the cheques. The vice-president operations and finances manages the organization’s budget and policy. They also oversee various SU various businesses. The SU recently lost ownership of MacHall and $1.9 million in annual revenue from rent from the space’s tenants, meaning that Wallace will likely have some difficult decisions to make this year.
VP ACADEMIC — Tina Miller
The vice-president academic facilitates the relationship between the SU and campus faculty. Miller is responsible for improving the academic experience and promoting undergraduate research through initiatives like the Teaching Excellence Awards and the Undergraduate Research Symposium. As a first-year, unless you have a huge problem with the U of C’s faculty — or you’re caught cheating — you likely won’t be booking any appointments with her.
VP STUDENT LIFE — Hilary Jahelka
Also known as “VP Party,” the vice-president student life is in charge of arguably the most important day at the U of C — Bermuda Shorts Day. Jahelka also oversees SU-sanctioned clubs, which are a great way to make the most out of your university experience. The position is in charge of events like Clubs Week and Frost Bite. It’s not all fun and games, however — the position also has an important role in mental health initiatives to foster student well-being.
Every faculty at the University of Calgary has at least one representative on SLC, depending on the faculty’s size. Their role is to act on the behalf of their faculty to address specific issues that students within their faculty face. If you have any problems with your department or ideas on how to improve the lives of your fellow classmates, track your rep(s) down. They’re happy to help.