By Gurman Sahota, July 10 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 second instalment introduces Omer Mansoor, vice-president operations and finance of the SU. Elected in March 2019, Mansoor began his term on May 1, 2019 and will be in the role until the end of April 2020.
The Gauntlet: What do you do in your role?
OM: There’s a couple of things I do. I work a lot with the different programs that we offer, especially internally in the SU, like the refugee student program. I oversee the SU health and dental program. I also do a lot of budgeting and prepping for the year.
G: Why did you run for vice president operations and finance?
OM: I actually got inspired by the role working a lot with Ryan Wallace, the 75th VP operations and finance. I really do like the policy work, because setting good governance structures is the basis of the foundation for an organization. I like the policy work. But I also liked learning about budgeting, because it’s something that’s so different coming from a science background. So I found it interesting to merge those two together.
G: What do you plan to do within your role as VP OPFI?
OM: One of the main things I want to focus on this year is standardizing all of our different policies at the SU — making sure that there isn’t contradicting information from one policy to another — and making sure that our governance structure is as transparent and also as good as it can be going forward. I think there are parts that we can improve on, especially with policies that may contradict one another.
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?
OM: Students’ Legislative Council is the board of directors for the Students’ Union that essentially oversees the entire organization. And not only does it do that, but it’s also an advocacy tool. It’s really a place where reps are coming to council with their concerns, talking about things that they’ve heard from students or that they’ve engaged with students on. And I think it’s pretty much ground for discussion and for resolutions that are important for the SU.
G: You’ve been with SLC for a while now, how has SLC evolved within your tenure here?
OM: Moving from a rep to an executive position, I think you are the ones bringing items to SLC. There is a shift in tone that way, in terms of just going a lot more in depth with the ideas and understanding the workings that go on behind the scenes before things come to SLC. With SLC, this year especially, a lot of our reps are more involved, which is obviously a huge advantage for us. A lot of reps are applying for more committees, they’re speaking at SLC, which was sometimes a hindrance in the past. When you start off in a position like this, it’s one of your first meetings and you’re approving the budget and things like that, it can be intimidating. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve seen this year is that more reps are talking. More reps are comfortable talking to the executives, I think that just shows our whole orientation process that really makes sure that reps feel comfortable to talk about their concerns in an inclusive environment.
G: A year from now, when you are done your role, what do you want to look back on and see?
OM: There are two main things I want to accomplish, hopefully, by the end of my year, and one is just getting more students involved with the SU. I think the SU has a history of getting students that are already hyper-engaged on campus involved. But I think if we can reach out to those students that aren’t so involved with the SU, such as students-at-large on communities, [and provide] different ways that they can get involved with SU programming — whether it’s through sitting on the quality money committee, or even working as student staff in general with the SU — that would probably be one of the most beneficial ways. It’s something that I want to look back on and see that we have been increasing students that have been involved in the SU.
The second thing that I really want to focus on is improving our policies and our internal governance structure because I think that will set the foundation for the SU moving forward.
G: What’s one thing that you’ve learned now that you wish you had learned in the past?
OM: One thing I really wish I knew before I got to campus was just to get involved as early as I could. I had some ideas about things I could get involved with, but I think once you come to campus, there’s just an overwhelming amount of opportunities that you’re not used to coming out of high school.
On the SU side, I think something I really wish I knew beforehand was just how expansive it was. When I was a [science] rep, I didn’t realize there are seven different departments with over 50 full-time staff and 250 part-time staff. It’s such a wide organization and such a diverse organization too that I had no idea until I go into the executive role so that’s very exciting.
G: How can students get in contact with you if they need you?
OM: You can call me directly, my business card is at the SU office. If you don’t want to call me directly, you can just send me an email or stop by my office because I have an open door policy.
For more information or to contact the SU vice president operations and finance, send an email at email@example.com.