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. Kinesiology Representative Mathieu Chin tells his story.
The Gauntlet: What do you do in your role?
Mathieu Chin: Quiet honestly, a little of everything! Often, students see Faculty Representatives as the ones who advocate on behalf of the students in their faculty, and they are not wrong. Besides the Students’ Legislative Council, representatives also have a chance to sit on the General Faculties Council (GFC), which is UCalgary’s highest governing academic body, and other faculty specific committees. For myself, I usually sit on the Kinesiology Faculties Council and the Tenure and Promotion Committee.
But that is not all that we do! For starters, we often spend an immense amount of time working on our platform points that we have formed during elections. Often, this involves lots of consulting with staff at the Students’ Union and administration in one’s home faculty. In addition, all Elected Officials sit on SU Committees. Last year, I had the opportunity to sit on the Clubs Committee and the Quality Money Committee. For the Clubs Committee, I had the opportunity to work along some of my fellow Elected Officials in approving event funding applications for the over 300 SU clubs on campus. In addition, we worked to assign Club Awards and Scholarships for the Club Awards Night. For the Quality Money Committee, I had the opportunity to review applications that go to enhance the undergraduate experience of students at UCalgary. Each year, we fund around $1.65Million through this committee.
G: Why did you run for your role?
MC: For me, being involved in leadership commitments on campus has been something I have been driven to get involved with since my first days on campus. In my first year, I had the opportunity to act as the Faculty of Kinesiology Representative for the First Year Council, where I worked alongside representatives from other faculties in informing various on-campus programs in how they can better engage undergraduate students. Here, I met current Faculty of Nursing Representative, Candace Cho, and Faculty of Science Representative, Angie Hu, so the rapport that were formed then will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our work together in the Students` Union.
Following that year, I was fortunate enough to be voted onto the Kinesiology Students’ Society where I acted as the Vice President Public Relations and worked alongside my fellow executives to host events and create a sense of community within my faculty. Motivated to expand my commitment to a larger scale and continue my growth in leadership, I felt that it was a natural transition for me to run in the SU election, where I was elected in 2018. This year, I am humbled to be back for my second term as the Faculty of Kinesiology Representative
While these commitments have allowed me to give back to my community, it has also allowed me to indulge myself in personal development and build on skills that I believe will translate positively outside of campus. At the end of the day, I hope to have the opportunity to inspire others, the same way that my peers continue to inspire me.
G: What do you specifically plan to do within your role?
MC: Going into my fourth and final year of undergrad, I have learned the value and importance of being involved in work integrated learning experiences. Whether it be through practicums, co-op terms, internships, or research opportunities, these are experiences that equip students with invaluable skills that cannot be taught in a classroom setting. Throughout my term as the Kinesiology Representative, I hope to increase these opportunities available to students, but also work to ensure that they are assessible to all students. Currently, the practicum opportunities that are offered to Kinesiology students are unpaid, which may not be the financially ideal option for some students, especially when you factor in the costs that may be associated with these placements. Therefore, I hope to work to implement a Student Activity Fund that will help to subsidize the costs that may come with such placements, as well as provide grants for students pursing conferences.
Likewise, a prevalent issue across all undergraduate students is mental health. Despite the increase attention of mental health through initiatives such as ‘Bell Lets Talk Day’, it is still a conversation we need to have in order to reduce the stigma surrounding it. Last year, I had the opportunity to work on Mental Health classroom talks where I went to Kinesiology classrooms promoting the various resources available to students, both on and off campus. I hope to continue this initiative and continue to work to reduce the stigma surround mental health for students in Kinesiology and the University of Calgary.
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?
MC: The Students’ Legislative Council, more commonly known as SLC, is the Students’ Union highest governing body which comprises of 19 Faculty Representatives and 5 Executives to represent the over 25,000 undergraduate students at the University of Calgary. All 24 members of SLC are elected by undergraduate students and vote on policies.
Beyond the voting and consultations, the council is also an opportunity for us to stay informed about issues on campus, the initiatives of our fellow elected officials, all while holding us accountable to each other and our constituents. All SLC meetings are open to the public so if you are interested in seeing the council in action, be sure to check the calendar on our website and drop by on Tuesdays in the Council Chambers starting at 6:30pm.
G: A year from now, when you are done your role, what do you want to look back on and see?
MC: Over the years, there has been a large legacy of impactful Kinesiology Representatives, such as Stephan Guscott and Sagar Grewal who both served as SU Presidents for the 74th and 76th SLC, respectively. From mental health initiatives to providing students with enhanced work integrated learning opportunities, I hope I will have left behind a legacy which has had a positive impact for not my only my peers but also for Kinesiology students for many generations to come.
G: What’s one thing that you’ve learned now that you wish you had learned in the past?
MC: I think the biggest take away from my experience as a faculty representative has been the importance of communicating issues prevalent. Often, we will turn our back to a problem that we may see in a classroom with the hopes that it will be resolved by itself. Without communication, such issue may never be brought to the attention of those who have the influence to make a difference. For instance, it isn’t uncommon for an issue which may be ‘obvious’ to students to never be brought up because they assume that it is ‘obvious’ to everyone else, such as administration in a faculty. Inevitably, they may never resolve the issue because they are not aware that it is prevalent. Making assumptions of how one understands a situation can be very deceiving, thus communication is of vital essence to ensuring that problems can be resolved and to ensure that one’s student experience can be the best that it can be!
G: How can students get in contact with you if they need you?
MC: If you ever see me in the halls, be sure to say hi; I would love to chat! Please feel free to reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.