Working for the summer
by Zoey Duncan
Getting elected was the easy part. Now the Students’ Association executives must begin to honour their commitment to the student body by immersing themselves in an intensive learning process over the spring and summer semesters.
In order to hit the ground running come September, there are many relationships to be made and much knowledge to be gathered during Mount Royal University’s quietest months.
Meghan Melnyk, incoming VP external, said that the most important part of her summer will be absorbing knowledge about bylaws, regulations and issues that affect students, while also building effective relationships with decision-makers outside the institution. Those steps are an essential part of understanding and negotiating the assortment of issues that arise every year.
“The VP external really has to think on their feet,” she said. “I feel like the prep for me is in the knowledge and the knowledge transfer.”
Melnyk said her position is unique in that it is annually shaped by what is happening in and around the Mount Royal community. During the 2009-10 school year, for example, VP external Robert Jones dealt heavily with the transition to the university.
Much of Melnyk’s job involves dealing with the media, so along with countless meetings and conferences, Melnyk will be under the tutelage of communications dean Marc Chikinda.
Along with Melnyk, Anna Piltingsrud is new to the executive committee. Piltingsrud, incoming VP academic, called this year’s election — in which all candidates ran unopposed — “saddening.” She said she was looking forward to facing some competition for her position and that it’s now up to the students to judge her performance. Piltingsrud said she intends to finish the projects of her predecessor, including the co-curricular record for students’ resumes. She also wants to make contacts at the library in order to establish a textbook loan program.
Continuing on as VP student life, Eily Sweeney is the sole executive returning to the same position as last year.
“I think for me, going into my second year, I keep on saying, ‘thank God I have another year,’ because one year in this position is not enough,” Sweeney said. “Going through it twice is just an exciting, exciting way to really heighten my understanding of leadership and also to give back to students in the best way that I can.”
Along with attending a variety of conferences with the rest of the executives, Sweeney plans to get a community garden underway on campus this summer, and is hopeful that she will be able to establish a ride-sharing program to help students find affordable and sustainable ways to get to campus.
Guiding the team of student executives is self-proclaimed policy nerd Robert Jones.
“The summer is really about me transitioning the two new executives this year,” said Jones, who will be going through a transition himself as he takes over the presidential chair.
Though he understands that tuition, transportation and parking will always be important issues for students, Jones’ outlook is positive despite difficult budgets from the province.
“I can’t really see any big challenges ahead,” Jones said. “No, I think it’s a pretty bright future so long as the economy doesn’t blow up in everyone’s faces.”