By Kristy Koehler, November 12 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 Engineering Representative Barney Miao tells his story.
The Gauntlet: What do you do in your role?
Barney Miao: As the Faculty of Engineering representative, I believe my position is the bridge between my fellow students and the university. As your representative, I will attend the Engineering Faculty Council (EFC) and weekly meetings of the student’s legislative council (SLC). I will also interchangeably attend the monthly General Faculty Council (GFC), and will serve on some committees of the SU. I will also work with the Engineering Student Society so that both sides will mutually benefit during our pursuit to help student’s experience on campus.
G: Why did you run for your role?
BM: During my first year at the U of C, I didn’t notice a consistent presence of my faculty representatives. I was saddened by this perception, as a lack of contact with students was painfully obvious with the majority having little knowledge about the SU. I thought the best solution to this problem was to revive “roaming office hours” — as some other faculty reps have done — and be more proactive during the school year by hosting events more frequently. Rather than waiting for change to happen, I decided to run with my beliefs in solving this issue. I’m extremely thankful for my experience at this university, and I view this role as being able to give future students more opportunities on campus.
G: What do you specifically plan to do within your role?
BM: I plan to complete the four main points of my platform throughout my term. The first one being the creation of a Facebook page that will help post news updates and event details. This will improve our ability to communicate with students as we are currently limited by the number of emails we send, and will help diversify our messaging as we currently only have an Instagram account. I also intend the Facebook page to be a place for open dialog, where students are able to freely post any concerns they may have. Another improvement is that a Facebook page allows us to post online polls to gauge student’s opinions on certain subjects. The Facebook page was approved in early July and we hope to launch it soon.
My second goal is to hold more events during the year. I believe that the previous disconnect between the SU reps and the ESS can be tackled by cooperating in this aspect. I met with Robyn Graham the new ESS president on June 21st and discussed the possibility of cooperating with them in attending/hosting events. I would like to build upon this meeting and attempt to host something in conjunction with the ESS during orientation week. I also hope that at the end of my term an increase in involvement will help repair the recent damage to relations between the ESS and the SU.
My third main goal is to expand services on campus in regards to technical skills such as Matlab, AutoCAD, Solid Works, etc. I intend that any new sessions will be ideally free of charge and I hope it will help with the current issues that some students have mentioned to me. I also want to work with EASC and encourage them to expand more course offerings to upper-level years.
My final goal is to improve the ways in which students give feedback on their courses. I have already consulted with vice president academic Kevin Dang specifically on the USRI system and I plan to meet with him again during the year. I will be posting updates on these four points — part of my monthly report — via D2L and on the SU website. Don’t hesitate to contact me to inquire for more details.
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?
BM: To me the SLC is the main mechanism of connecting student interests around the university. It provides the faculty representatives and executives the opportunity to publicly state their weekly activities. The SLC decides on important issues relating to students through an open process as it is open to the public most of the time. Therefore, the SLC in my view is the main “visible” mechanism used to keep elected officials accountable to students. The SLC is balanced by the different faculties on campus, and all decisions reflect our different viewpoints by a clear consensus.
G: A year from now, when you are done your role, what do you want to look back on and see?
BM: At the end of my term I would like to see that all the promises I made during the election are fulfilled, or if not possible some similar “alternative” is completed in its place. I hope that more students will have knowledge of the SU and all of the services they offer, and take advantage of the resources made available to them. I also hope that by the end of my term relations with the ESS are improved. I hope that an increase in cooperation between us and the ESS will help generally help students — I don’t think that the previous situation of animosity and awkwardness that existed in the past will be at all beneficial to anyone. I will be thrilled if, at the end of the year, students will be able to say that they had a great experience studying engineering at the U of C.
G: What’s one thing that you’ve learned now that you wish you had learned in the past?
BM: I wish I had heard more about the issues students were having on campus before I got involved with the SU. I had anticipated that students within my faculty had problems I couldn’t fully understand before talking with them in person. This was the main reason why I wasn’t too ambitious with my platform, as I had decided to spend the majority of my time trying to solve as many of the problems that students brought up as possible. After learning more from engaging with more students since February, I feel more confident and guided in my approach in this position. When I look back a year from now I believe that this knowledge was the most effective in allowing me to carry out my duties properly, and the most priceless.
G: How can students get in contact with you if they need you?
BM: Students can contact me either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I check my email at least once a day so I will get back to any messages as soon as they arrive. We are also in the midst of setting up a new Facebook page that will post information for upcoming events, news updates, polls, surveys. You can contact me through that page. I’m willing to meet as many students as my time permits, as such I will be doing weekly roaming office hours and pass out business cards which include both my email and phone number.