By Kristy Koehler, November 26 2019—
In an effort to introduce new — or even continuing — students to representatives in the Students’ Union and in student government, the Gauntlet is running the series, ‘Who’s Who in the SU.’ We introduced you to the executives, now let’s meet the Senate Representatives. Senator Jonah Secreti tells his story
The Gauntlet: What do you do in your role?
Jonah Secreti: As one of two Senate Student-at-Large Representatives, I have the responsibility of representing undergraduate students on the University of Calgary Senate. This includes voting on different motions during Senate meetings, advocating for undergraduate students as their representative, and providing reports to members of the Students’ Legislative Council after every Senate meeting. I also am a member of the Senate’s Engagement Committee which prioritizes strengthening the university’s bonds with the external community through different outreach programs, and providing mentorship to different student groups on campus.
G: Why did you run for Senate?
JS: The main reason I ran for this position is that I love being actively involved as a member of the University of Calgary community, and I wanted to ensure that all of the achievements and hard work done by my fellow students are recognized and supported by the Senate. Volunteering for Spring convocation ceremonies after my first year of university and hearing the Chancellor address graduating students, I became very curious about the role of the Chancellor and Senate within the university. After some research, I was amazed by the different initiatives the Senate undertakes, and I was very eager to support these as a student representative. Overall, having the opportunity to better advocate students’ perspectives and help facilitate meaningful improvements on campus is an amazing responsibility, and is one I am truly thankful to have.
G: For someone who doesn’t know what the Senate is, how would you describe it and what it does?
JS: From my personal experience on the Senate, I would describe it as an organization which better connects external communities off campus to support the ongoing initiatives of the University of Calgary. Senators may represent different constituent groups on campus, such as undergraduate students, but many are individuals from the external community who volunteer their time to support and advocate for the university and its students. The end result is an organization which benefits from an extraordinarily diverse set of experiences and perspectives from Senators which are applied to support the University of Calgary.
G: A year from now, what do you want to have accomplished in your role?
JS: I hope to have better informed undergraduate students about the role the Senate has within the University of Calgary, and to ensure that the student perspective is being advocated for by the Senate. Specifically, I want to better inform students through hosting events on campus and connecting them with current Senators and also ensure there are more opportunities for students to become actively involved with the Senate.
G: What is one thing you know now, that you wish you’d learned in the past?
JS: One realization I wish had occurred sooner is understanding that there is a large amount of support to make improvements on campus for students. Representatives from the Students’ Union and the University of Calgary are very open to hearing about ideas to improve the student experience, and are even more willing to offer a great deal of support to make these ideas become a reality. While I admit it can be intimidating at first to send that initial email asking for help, whether to host an event or start a new initiative on campus, I would definitely recommend reaching out to your student representatives, professors, administrators, and peers to turn a good idea into a meaningful impact.
G: How can students get in contact with you if they need to?
JS: I would definitely recommend emailing me at email@example.com for any questions or concerns, but if anyone ever sees me in the hallways around campus please feel free to come and say hello. I really enjoy meeting new people, and would be excited by the opportunity to discuss my role with anyone who is interested in learning more.