An Interview with USC VP Student Events Sam Kilgour

Ever wonder who is behind all the events that happen on campus? From O-Week, to cotton candy in the UCC, to Charity Ball, your USC VP Student Events has a hand in making all these events happen! We want to thank all the USC executives that we interviewed for participating. Don’t forget to check out our interviews with USC President Matt Helfand and USC VP External Jen Carter.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I started my undergrad at Huron University College in 2010 and graduated with a degree in BMOS and a specialization in Global Studies this past summer. I was a two-time Huron soph, and the co-president of Huronopoly – the Huron Board Gaming Society. I was a member of the 2013 Orientation Staff, which sparked my interest in USC Programming on a large scale.

What events do students have to look forward to? 

Now that September (and O-Week, and Clubs Week, and the Volunteer Fair, and Homecoming) are/is complete, get ready for the rest of the year! For October, there will be a tailgating event run in The Spoke coinciding with a major sporting event, and the Charity Haunted House in the Mustang Lounge. November has the annual Remembrance Day Ceremony, a Theatre Western play at The Grand, and the Children’s Holiday Party. January holds the iconic Charity Ball, while February has the Super Bowl Party and Purple Shorts. March has another Theatre Western Production as well as the Reverie Arts Festival. Look out for other events such as concerts and speaking events to fill the gaps between school and life!

Calendar of Events

Too many words Sam! We decided to create a quick graphic to lay it all out for you guys – remember we didn’t include any concerts/speaking events he has planned

What are your goals for yourself as a leader? 

My goal is to help others become leaders. I have had my time in the weeds in programming, and I want others to have the opportunities I had throughout my university experience. If I can help others realize their dreams through programming, I will have had a successful year, and hopefully my successor was given appropriate breathing room as they work their way up, and now feels inclined to give that same space to the new members of their portfolio. I would love for my long-lasting impact with the USC to be this shift in culture.

Fun question! – If you had an unlimited budget, who would you bring for a concert?

I would start by constructing a life size volcano to have the concert in front of, but it erupts on my command. Then, the lineup would include Eh440 (a Capella), Brad Paisley (country) Maroon 5 (pop), JET (rock), and Audien (EDM) so that we have a concert that caters to as many people as possible! By the way, the volcano erupts llamas instead of lava.

An Interview with USC VP External Jen Carter

New year means new USC executive! We decided to take advantage of their 3 day e-mail policy, and give them a chance to answer some questions and hopefully reflect on their roles within student government. Things could get pretty busy for the USC executive, so we appreciate all of them taking the time to answer students. Don’t forget to check out our interview with USC President Matt Helfand and stay tuned for interviews with your VP Internal and VP Student Events.


Tell us a bit about yourself:

I just graduated from King’s with my honors specialization in criminology. I got involved with the USC through my involvement with the King’s University College Students’ Council where I volunteered as the promo team commissioner and the sociology faculty representative. I then served as president of the KUCSC before running for Vice President External.

Briefly describe what is under your portfolio. (What issues are students able to approach you for?)

Under my portfolio is municipal, provincial and federal advocacy on behalf of a Western students. I work with the city, the province and the federal government to represent the interests of Western students and make life for students at Western a little bit better.

What are your goals for yourself as a leader? (i.e. How do you plan on staying grounded/focused/relaxed?)

I have learned that I am a much better person when I take the time to go to the gym. Physical activity is a great way to keep the stress of the job under control and I have found it to be a great way to clear my head and think. I also have a dog that I love, and spending time outdoors with him is one of the best parts of my day!

What are you goals for the USC this year? (Anything in particular that you wish you see change from last year?)

Myself and my executive this year are really working to make sure that the USC is more personal. Coming from an affiliate, I love the chance to interact with students, so if you see me around, I would be more than happy to join you at the Spoke for a coffee.

Fun question! – What is your favorite place to visit in London outside of the Western bubble?

Trailsend Farmers Market – it’s kind of far away, and you will definitely need a car, but I promise you it is more than worth it. You can do your groceries for a whole week for under $20 and the environment there is the best.

How do plan on keeping students engaged during the municipal elections? Why is important that students get involved and stay informed with municipal elections? (Be specific with your plan on bridging the gap between students and the upcoming municipal election)

It’s really difficult to make elections a sexy issue for students. The message I would really like to get across is that while one vote might not have that much weight, 30,000 do. This year, 98% of students picked up their bus passes, so we know that students use the LTC on a very regular basis. There are some great changes that we can make to transit in London but we definitely need to work together to make that happen.

This year we have worked to make voting a lot more accessible to students. Western students can now visit westernvotes.ca to print a letter to verify their local address at the polls. There will also be a mayoral debate on campus on October 15th at 7pm in the mustang lounge where students will be able to interact with the candidates.

You have very strong goals for OSAP that are long-term (for example, lowering the debt cap), How do you plan on achieving this in your months left as VP External?

Provincial lobby goals are extremely difficult to follow through with, but are important to set in order to start a long-term advocacy plan. With the new liberal majority government, there will be some stability in the government. This means we will have some time to work on long terms goals. Right now, there is $300 million dollars in the system that is spent on tax credits. Only about 11% of undergraduate students actually make enough money to qualify for these tax credits and in order to make the best investment possible, we need to make the best of what money we already have in the PSE (post-secondary education) sector. Reinvesting this money could result in a variety of even upfront grants including expanding the eligibility for the Ontario tuition grant and expanding OSAP eligibility to part-time students.

An Interview with USC President Matt Helfand

New year means new USC executive! We decided to take advantage of their 3 day e-mail policy, and give them a chance to answer some questions -and hopefully reflect on their roles within student government. Things could get pretty busy for the USC executive, so we appreciate all of them taking the time to answer students. (Stay tuned for interviews with your VP Internal, VP External, and VP Student Events)


 

Tell us a bit about yourself:

Greetings, deVOTED readers! My name is Matt Helfand and I have the distinct pleasure of serving this year as president of your University Students’ Council. I studied political science during my time at Western, focusing on various aspects of political theory, international political economy and a bit of local government. This is my second year in student government, having served in 2012/2013 as President of the Social Science Students’ Council. I have also participated in the UWO Debate Society and varsity intramurals. Sadly, I’ve never won a purple shirt.

What are your goals for yourself as a leader? (i.e. How do you plan on staying grounded/focused/relaxed?)

One of the most important things for any leader is to be surrounded by a good team. I have a great team. The role of USC president is challenging and the job is a daunting task for anyone, myself included. I place a lot of trust in the people around me – in the rest of the USC executive, our student leaders, and our full-time staff. The role has significant responsibilities, privileges and duties that should not be taken lightly. Decisions can be difficult, and not everything can be a win.

All that being said, my goal is to take everything in stride, work as hard as I possibly can, and try and make the Western community proud. My capacity to genuinely do well by those around me keeps me energized and focused.

What are your goals for the USC this year? (Anything in particular that you wish you see change from last year?)

My team and I have many goals for the year with regards to the entire organization. A few priorities among our many goals are:
1. Rethinking of homecoming celebrations.
2. Creating a new process for the Student Services Committee, to enhance access to, and quality of, health and wellness services on campus.
3. Developing an Appeals Board for the USC.
4. Increasing the efficiency of Council meetings.

With a one-year term, there is only so much that can be accomplished and there are a lot of unanticipated issues that come up throughout the year. One thing that I do control is the type of president that I am. I hope to be remembered as a president who was visible, energetic, helpful to others and someone who gets s**t done.

Fun question! – what is your Spoke order?

Turkey Club w/ Sprouts on Jalapeno Cheddar Bagel.

How do you plan to keep students informed and engaged with what you are doing this year? (Be specific)

This year, we’re placing a big emphasis on student engagement in our budgeting and strategic planning process. Getting feedback from the broadest swath of the student body means we’ll be able to prioritize the USC’s long-term direction along the lines of what students really want.

On a personal note, I’ve committed to answering e-mails from all students within three business days. I hope that, for students across campus, knowing the President of the USC is fully accessible will mean a greater willingness to engage with the organization.

How do you maintain focus on your original platform goals while accommodating the administration’s long term/larger goals? (Can you speak to the progress of some of your platform promises i.e. the USC fee freeze, or education surrounding the student donation fee?)

One thing that I learned quite quickly is that the role of USC president, or any USC executive for that matter, is WAY bigger than a platform. That said, I have always been confident in the points put forth in the Team Helfand platform and I remain confident in the Team Helfand platform. We will release a more comprehensive platform progress report in the near future. But, since you asked, a little preview:

Homecoming: The reviews are still coming in, but I think it’s safe to say that the USC’s Homecoming Celebration on Concrete Beach was a huge success. Western students rocked out with Gord Bamford, enjoyed a pancake breakfast courtesy of Alumni Western and basically partied their faces off… In a responsible and controlled manner.

Base Fee Freeze: This point was #1 on the platform for a reason. I am unwavering in my belief that the USC should avoid raising the base fee as a means to provide specific services (inflation notwithstanding… I’m not former London Mayor Joe Fontana). My arguments today are the same as when I first sought to implement a USC base fee freeze in 2013. I believe they are adequately captured in these gazette articles:

USC Base Fee Freeze (part 1)

USC reviews Fee Freeze (part 2)

This is my opinion. While I may be president, I greatly respect the authority of the Council and the Board of Directors in the budgeting process. I recognize that for the freeze to be achieved, I will be required to present a compelling case as to why this is the best decision the USC can make for students. We’re at the beginning of our budgeting process now and I look forward to providing more information as that process plays out.

Education surrounding donation fees: Student Donation Fees are faculty specific, with each faculty responsible for administering opt-outs. We’re exploring different ways that the USC can support an educational campaign that will make sense for all students and we will be continuing to have a discussion with faculty presidents on the matter.

Appeals Board: As this is being written and published, a draft by-law that would establish a USC Appeals Board has passed our Governance Committee and has been submitted to council. I am so proud of how the draft turned out and I look forward to seeing the input from the Council as a whole.

Municipal Outreach: I want to acknowledge the amazing work of Jen, our VP External, in putting together an amazing campaign to “Get Out The Vote” for the upcoming municipal election. Keep an eye out for it over the next month.

Microwaves and Food Indicators: I also want to acknowledge Emily, our VP Internal, who has done an excellent job of fulfilling our promise to roll out more microwaves across campus and redevelop our campus food-labeling at the Wave & the Spoke to better inform students about their options. There are also a number of other projects that Emily has been actively pursuing, that we look forward to releasing in the future.

How do you plan to get the smaller things accomplished when you have to prioritize bigger tasks? (Good job on the microwave promise – it does not go unnoticed)

You are indeed correct to state that there are a lot of large priorities within the University. As USC president, I often have the privilege of engaging in these topics at a very high level. That said, I do my best to remember the little ways that I can use my role to enhance the experience of students. I like to call these little things proverbial ‘potholes’, with reference to the duty that municipal political leaders have to keep the roads in good shape. A pothole can be a small item of a municipal leader’s agenda, but it is something that greatly impacts constituents. I do my best to try and bounce back and forth between the high-level conversations and the small items. It can be a challenge, but if you surround yourself with the right people it can be accomplished.

If you can say one thing to the undergraduate students at Western, what would it be?

Avoid mediocrity and complacency – those things are boring.

(U)SC

USC

The USC stands for the University Students’ Council. Here at deVOTEd, we’d like to focus on the U – as in you. As students who still naively believe in the power of student government, we want break through the fog of student apathy and create a space where students can share, debate, and critique student politics. This blog is all about you and those who represent you.

Our goals for this year are to help keep you informed about the issues surrounding your student government, and to decrease student apathy about issues that matter to you one post at a time. There is a lot that goes on in the USC, our focus will be on the events* that will have the greatest impact on you the students.

What to expect:

  • Interviews with your student representatives
  • Elections coverage
  • Constant coverage on Twitter: @devoteduwo  –tweet us, we’d love to hear from you!
  • Sharing of articles about student issues

Call for volunteers!

But of course, all this would not be possible without the help of others who feel the same as we do. We are always looking for student volunteers with a heart for student issues. You do not have to be part of the USC or have any experience, just e-mail us for ways to get involved at: devoteduwo@gmail.com

 

*For example, the controversy regarding the use of the the Student Donation Fund by the SSSC (Social Science Student Council) to cover administrative costs.

With that, we bid you adieu

Since January of 2012, deVOTEd has gone through 3 election seasons, uploaded 110 blog posts, reached 182 Twitter followers (Highlight: becoming best friends with Brescia Girl), and received 23 109 total views.

Wow. The last couple of years of helping out with deVOTEd have been quite the experience.

This blog started off when Stephen Yu enticed a group of students who were all just super interested in USC Elections to start a blog of their own!

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SSSC Elections 2014

We have a special tie with the Social Science Students’ Council, as we were members of it back in our days, which is why we are informing y’all on who is running for this year’s Executive Team and Department Representatives. It’s not that we don’t love all the other constituencies, but home is where the heart is!

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USC VP Student Events Candidates 2014

Here are the candidates running to replace Adam Smith as the University Students’ Council’s Vice President Student Events.

Role: To coordinate involvement and facilitate engagement of students in events, and programming to enhance the student experience.

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