A talk with Feds execs


    Imprint sat down with the incoming Feds execs to learn about their plans for their upcoming term. Here is what they had to say.

    Richard Wu, incoming Feds President
    Photo courtesy Feds

    Wu’s main focus for his term as Feds President will be to create better mental health services on campus.

    “In the wake of [the student death on Mar. 5, 2018] … I want better health services in terms of mental health for everybody on campus. One suicide is too many, and … I really want to get in and dig deep and figure out why it’s happening, who it’s affecting and really sort of, in what ways can we help them,” Wu said. “I want to ensure that all staff and student leaders get at least some sort of mental health training to be able to recognize the signs of somebody having deteriorating mental health. I believe that recognition is the best way to primary prevention and even implementing some basic mental health training.”

    Wu also spoke about being in an acclaimed position, saying that, “For me, when I found out [I was acclaimed into presidency], it didn’t feel as good as you would expect just because that sort of speaks to again the student engagement we were talking about in that we don’t have much of it.”

    “I definitely want to increase student engagement in any way that I possibly can. Whether that be through just directly engaging with students and again that will take a little bit of analysis and looking at, for example, what other really well supported student unions are doing to see how their student life, student culture is. Just really learning from other people to see how they do it,” Wu said on the topic of student engagement.

    Wu also stated interest in creating a dropbox system where students can submit their thoughts on something that Feds implements, such as policies.

    “Let’s say Feds implemented some policy and I don’t necessarily agree with it. Let’s say I wanted to just comment on it, right? There are some ways to email people like there are multiple avenues that you could go down. I don’t think that people feel that there is this one thing that everybody can go to and just feel comfortable submitting. I’d really like to implement some sort of system in which Waterloo students or Feds members can voice their opinions,” Wu said. “I think that student disengagement is not really feeling like they’re part of a change, not feeling like they have any say in any decisions so I’d like to give a little bit more or at least try and give a little bit more flexibility for those who aren’t as necessarily outspoken.”

    When it comes to current Feds President Antonio Brieva’s work, Wu appreciates all of Brieva’s initiatives and would like to look into it and finish what was started.

    “I’d really like to try and make an effort to talk to everybody and engage a lot more with students and actually make time and not necessarily have them come to me, but really bring my sort of personal experiences and try to make this campus a better place,” Wu added.

    Matthew Gerrits, incoming Feds VP Education
    Photo courtesy Feds

    For his term as a Feds exec, Gerrits will be looking at revamping their service to help students with Policy 70, Policy 71, and Policy 72 — all which deal with appeals, grievances, and petitions for students.

    On the topic of addressing sexual violence, Gerrits said, “The university will start drafting the sexual violence and response policy on campus [next year], so we are going to be involved in those conversations. The sexual violence and response coordinator will also open lines of communications there.”

    “In response to mental health … the thing that is going to be the most central to mental health in the coming year is when the PAC-SMH report gets released, and we can look over the recommendations that have been generated by hard work, and then Feds can pick which policies we want to put our weight behind to try and get the university to implement,” Gerrits said on addressing mental health.

    When asked about other projects he would like to work on, Gerrits said, “I’d like to continue developing what … used to be the Governance Affairs Advisory Committee and the Educational Advisory Committee. They got merged into the EAC, also called the Educational Advisory Council. It’s a new body in Feds, and I’m looking forward to working on that and the potential it has for informing the [VP Education] portfolio.”

    “I’m looking forward to working in this position, I’m looking forward to serving students, and I’m looking forward to whatever surprises it has in store,” Gerrits concluded.

    Savannah Richardson, incoming Feds VP Student Life
    Photo courtesy Feds

    Richardson would like to work on student engagement, especially with the satellite campuses

    “I’m hoping to work with campus partners to increase more student engagement by working with different groups on campus through event planning, marketing, student outreach. I would also like to continue building the relationship with our satellite campuses, pharmacy, architecture, GBDA, and even our optometry students, especially looking into the relationship with student services with those satellite campuses and affiliate colleges,” Richardson said.

    When it comes to campus wellness, Richardson wants to tailor programming and events to the mental health needs of students.

    “I think wellness is a really important aspect of the student experience and student life. I’m hoping that we can build on those themes in the event planning, so we can focus on spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being and how they all tie together,” Richardson said. “I’ve been struggling with depression for many years, and it’s definitely something I keep on the forefront working with students … I know there’s been a lot of work with the President’s Advisory Committee for Mental Health and really trying to improve the student experience. I know MATES will be a part of the big push, getting more awareness for the services on campus I think is a big one too.”

    Richardson also hopes to look at student engagement saying, “We’re such an academically vigorous institution. [It can be a challenge to figure out] how do we and where do we sort of pull that engagement, but I think it really comes down to working closely with other student leaders. I’m looking at student societies especially, because they have a huge relationship with their constituents, so working with them and partnering with other campus partners, for example the Student Success Office, which has a huge pull on a sizeable portion of the student population and trying to increase awareness of what campus has to offer for students in terms of leadership opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and events to get involved with.”

    Richardson also showed interest in uniting student services with satellite campuses as well as the affiliated colleges.

    “I’m really excited to be working with students, and if anybody wants to talk to me or they have any questions, or like [they are thinking] ‘hey, who the heck are you?’ just feel free to reach out to me at any time,” Richardson concluded.

    Kurt MacMillan, incoming Feds VP Operations and Finance
    Photo courtesy Feds

    MacMillan wants to focus on the structure and organization that current VP Operations and Finance Brian Schwan has accomplished, as well as focus on bringing in non-Feds affiliated groups to bring more business within Feds.

    “An external group that I would like to look at is [UW]Athletics because I feel like athletics is a big portion of our campus, and we can work out [what we can do to] help the athletes. And [in turn] athletes then end up bringing more business to the Feds services,” MacMillan said. “Overall, I want to bring more unity on campus to students, and by bringing in one of those external groups such as Athletics, I can hopefully start bringing in other external groups that aren’t affiliated with Feds.”

    When asked about the dental and health plan, MacMillan said, “I still have to look into the medical side of things. I’m meeting up with [current VP of Operations and Finance] Brian Schwan to go over more of that information because I don’t know enough to give you a straightforward response on that right now.”

    Finally, MacMillan hopes to also create more unity and school spirit.

    “I feel like with Athletics I can bring up school spirit just like how Warrior Tribe works. And I want to work on projects with Athletics for maybe coming to the Bomber and having a social hour for fans to meet the players and coaches after the game, that’s going to be my biggest goal of the year,” MacMillan said.