By Kristy Koehler, October 2 2019—
In an effort to introduce new — or even continuing — students to representatives in the Students’ Union and in the Students’ Legislative Council, the Gauntlet is running the series, ‘Who’s Who in the SU.’ We introduced you to the executives, now let’s meet the Faculty Representatives. Faculty of Science Representative Michael Nguyen tells his story.
The Gauntlet: What do you do in your role?
Michael Nguyen: As the Faculty of Science Representative a lot of our role is behind the scenes working with the faculty such as members of the Dean’s Office or Student Engagement to work on initiatives that benefit students — study spaces and planning events as well as serving on committees that deal with policies affecting students like the Teaching and Learning Committee and Curriculum and Academic Review Committee.
A lot of the work we do revolves around advocating for student needs and interests. Our committee work, for example, deals with things like course enrolment limits and offerings —more math classes, extra lab sections — funding for enrichment programs and experiential learning opportunities for students as well as renovating study spaces and classrooms.
Outwardly, someone might see me helping at or attending Students’ Union or University events such as Orientation Days, Undergraduate Research Symposium or Pet Therapy for example. Planning and supporting the University or our fellow Faculty Representatives at events are also a big part of our role!
G: Why did you run for your role?
MN: This is my second year as Faculty of Science Representative so my motive changed a little bit this year but last year I ran because I wanted to be more involved in the student experience. There were some issues that I had identified in my first two years of school, such as poor maintenance and lack of study space, and I wanted to be the one who would make the student experience better for everyone.
This year I ran again because I had a great time and grew so much in the role. There’s a lot that you don’t necessarily see as a student. In my first year, I got warmed up in my role and felt that a second year would be beneficial for me to finish up things I had been working on but also address new issues that arose during my term such as course enrolment and helping with the new internship program.
G: What do you specifically plan to do within your role?
MN: Currently I’m working on completing renovations — owing to the successful Quality Money application for $45,800.00 I submitted last November — in the Math Sciences building link making sure the new study spaces are completed. This year, I’m planning on working on more QM projects in and around the sciences complex. I’m currently planning one in Science B. Other things I’m working on involve planning and running many events and overall I want to develop the unity and community spirit in science before I leave. I’ll try to do this by bringing together SU Clubs, myself and my fellow science representatives, the Science Mentorship Program and the Science Ambassadors in closer collaboration. To do that, we’re already working on how we can bring all of our units into play at different events and generally be more supportive of each other’s’ efforts to engage science students
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?
MN: The best way for me to describe Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) is that it’s the governing body/board of directors of the Students’ Union much like the university has its own Board of Governors that make high-level decisions and set the direction of their organization. Most of the decisions that are made by SLC concern changes to our policies and how the Students’ Union runs as an organization, some really cool things that happen are approving the budget or large renovation projects in Mac Hall. SLC as an office of elected representatives also serves as the “ambassadors” of the SU — which means all of our members, you as students! We try to put on or attend many events around campus and in the community as well as advocate for students to the government and the university.
G: A year from now, when you are done your role, what do you want to look back on and see?
MN: The most tangible and concrete indicators for me are probably my Quality Money projects and all of the events that we have planned such as the Science Pancake Breakfast, and the Year End Gala. Beyond that however in my first year as a new Science student at the University of Calgary I often felt that science was a very fractured faculty with minimal interaction between students of different departments and backgrounds — the Bio kids would hang out with the Bio kids etc. It was always a goal of mine to help make science more unified and have a sense of community and collective identity, we made good steps towards that last year alongside the Science Ambassadors, Science Mentorship Program and some of the Science SU Clubs and student organizations. This year, when I leave my role as both science representative and undergraduate student I want to look back and see students from all different departments and backgrounds being better able to interact, make connections with each other and thrive together.
G: What’s one thing that you’ve learned now that you wish you had learned in the past?
MN: One thing that I learn every year when it comes time for exams or to plan an event or do something for students is to stop procrastinating. You can’t study for an exam in one night and do well — well, you’ll definitely do better if you study in advance — just like you can’t leave planning a 400+ person pancake breakfast until the last two weeks — the Engineering Students Society would have already stolen the grills for Frosh.
G: How can students get in contact with you if they need you?
MN: The easiest way for students to get in touch with me is to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I can also be found on Facebook or Instagram (@michwoo.park). Please feel free to reach out whenever, I’ll always make time for the students I represent and would love to sit down and talk about student concerns, school, life or how Kawhi should’ve stayed with the Raptors.