By Gurman Sahota, June 11 2019 —
In an effort to introduce new — or even continuing — students to representatives in the Students’ Union and in the Students’ Legislative Council throughout the spring and summer, the Gauntlet is running the series, ‘Who’s Who in the SU.’ The first instalment introduces Jessica Revington, president of the SU. Elected in March 2019, Revington began her term on May first and will be at the helm of the organization until the end of April.
The Gauntlet: What do you do in your role?
Jessica Revington, president: As president, a lot of my role focuses on advocating for students and student priorities externally and internally within the university. When it comes to student priorities, I am the spokesperson for the SU and I also do a lot in supporting my vice presidents as well as the Students’ Legislative Council in being able to achieve their goals for the year.
G: Why did you run for president?
JR: I have been with the Students’ Union for approximately four years. I started out as the faculty of nursing representative, then ran for VP academic and most recently ran and was successful in my bid for president. I felt that I still had a lot to give back to students. This organization has given me so much during my time here as an undergraduate student, and I still have quite a bit to give back in terms of supporting students and student rights and student priorities externally to government and internally to the university. I want to make sure that when I leave here, the student experience is better because I have worked to make it better.
G: What do you plan to do within your role as president?
JR: There are three major projects that I’m working on as president. The first one focuses on meaningful student consultation. The President’s Consultative Task Force or PCTF is a group of 20 students from across campus, and these students are here to provide opinions, support and their perspectives on issues that students face across campus. I want to take that task force, and I want to make sure that it’s actually representative of the wide variety of students that we have on campus. I actually want to use the task force and use an initiative that I started as VP academic, in terms of going out to different student groups, going out to different clubs, and actually engaging students on the issues that matter to them. So not just waiting for students to come in and tell me what they think student issues are, but actually going up to students and trying to understand the issues that they face on a regular basis, the issues that they face in their daily lives and trying to understand what I can do as president — what the SU can do for them — to help support their student experience and their time here on campus.
The second piece focuses on student fees. Each semester, students pay $32.50 to the SU, and I want to make sure that the Students’ Union is transparent, and is accountable in how we’re spending student money. One of the projects that I’m working on this year, is actually creating an infographic and showing students where their money goes.
The third project that I’m working on comes from being the first female president in about nine years. That project is based on an initiative from the University of Alberta called Stride. What I envision Stride to be at the University of Calgary is a cohort program that actually encourages members of marginalized groups — women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, members in the indigenous community — to learn more about leadership and to help empower them in taking leadership roles on campus, not just within the SU, but within clubs, within departments and helping support them in their own leadership journeys. Once I leave this office, I want to ensure that students that run for this position, students that are in positions of power across campus, continue to represent the wide diversity of students that we have here. Stride is one way of getting us to that end point.
G: For someone who doesn’t know what Students’ Legislative Council is, how would you describe it? And how would you describe what it does?
JR: The Students’ Legislative Council is made up of 19 faculty representatives and five executives. They meet every Tuesday in council chambers during the regular school year, and they also meet periodically over the spring and summer. When SLC does meet, what they do is they discuss issues and topics that are important to students. They discuss issues that students have either brought forward or issues that are at the federal level, provincial level or internally within the university that have some impact on students. Each faculty representative brings forward a different perspective and a different opinion on each of these issues. And the idea is, when SLC is finished, there’s a consensus or there’s an understanding of what issues are important to students, and what steps we can take to make sure student voices are heard.
G: You’ve been with SLC for a while now, how has SLC evolved within your tenure here?
JR: I think, in my experience, looking at the executive teams, SLC has evolved quite dramatically to represent a wide variety of students from across campus. Just looking at the composition of the executive teams, this year’s executive team and last year’s is probably one of the most diverse that we’ve had in quite a long time. I’m really happy to see the diversity. I’m really happy to see the wide variety of students that we’re attracting and are able to capture from across campus because the more students we’re able to have on SLC that represent a wide diversity of opinions, the better the discussions are at SLC, and the more students we know are being represented.
G: A year from now, when you are done your presidency, what do you want to look back on and see?
JR: I think, to me, success is having an impact on students as a whole. But even if I’ve been able to have an impact on just one student, and help change their university experience for the better, to me, that’s what success looks like. I want to be able to look back at my time here in this role as president and be able to point to every single thing that I’ve done that has made a tangible impact on the lives of students. Stride is one of them that I hope will be a tangible impact. There are a couple of other projects that I’m working on without revealing too much at this stage. I think when I look back at my year as a whole, I want people to identify the projects that I’ve worked on and the students that I helped.
G: What’s one thing that you’ve learned now that you wish you had learned in the past?
JR: I’m very fortunate to come into this role with a year of experience as an executive. Knowing what it means to be an executive has helped me even just in this first month as president with understanding how to manage a team, understanding how to support others, to help them realize their goals. I think one of the most important things that I’ve learned is when to step back and let others show their strengths. This is a fantastic team first of all, so being able to work with a team of vice-presidents such as this helps me understand a lot more about when I can step in and I can be that guide and mentor and when I can step back and let the work that my VPs have done, and let the passion that they have for the work that they’re doing in their role, shine through.
G: How can students get in contact with you if they need you?
JR: Students can get in contact with me in a variety of ways. I’m always available by email, by phone, also on Instagram, @revington4president, if people want to follow my account. The idea is my door is always open if students ever want to get in touch with me. They always can, it doesn’t matter when or where.
For more information or to contact the SU president, send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.