Wrapping up: Maaz Yasin, VP Internal

<strong>What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?</strong>

<strong>M:</strong> I would say the launch of the volunteer center would be my biggest achievement. I think when it really comes to fruition, it will really change the way students get involved on campus by making [volunteering easier]. Getting involved on campus, as you might know, is a big beast&hellip;. The question we always get at our reception desk at the start of every term, especially fall with the new students, is &ldquo;where do I go,&rdquo; &ldquo;how do I get involved?&rdquo; We would always be like &ldquo;if you want to be a student journalist, you can go to <em>Imprint</em>, if you are interested in first aid, you can go to CRT,&rdquo; but now we can point them to one central place.

<strong>What projects do you hope to continue in your remaining time as VP Internal?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>A bunch of projects are still ongoing. One is the Fed Hall <em>Memorandum of Understanding</em> with the university.&hellip; I would like to create an agreement with the university; a framework that provides students access to Fed Hall at affordable prices.&hellip; It used to be operated by Feds; now it&rsquo;s operated by the university. Because of that change, it has been a little more challenging for clubs to access Fed Hall for their events&hellip; Other projects would include following up on a lot of the campus safety issues that students have expressed concerns about. Specifically, students have expressed concerns about lighting on campus and that is something I have been working on, pushing the university to address some of the problem areas. We&rsquo;ve been collecting a lot of data from the students through our web-form; so that&rsquo;s something I would like to continue to do before the end of April.

<strong>In your campaign, you discussed breaking down bureaucracy. How did you achieve this? Or did you achieve this?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>I think in a lot of ways I have achieved it. One good tangible example is the clubs support team. In the past for my time as VP Internal, there is more than 200 clubs and there is one clubs manager. So for any of the 200 clubs to reach out and get any support from Feds, they would have to get in touch with one person, who would be dealing with a lot of groups. Because of that, it would be a lot more challenging for the clubs manager to be very responsive to club requests &hellip; So one of my campaign promises was to create the clubs support team, eliminate the level of hardship in getting a hold of Feds, to have Feds be a lot more responsive to clubs and to be available for them.

<strong>What initiatives have you taken to increase visibility of UW students in the community?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>We have started working more closely with the university&rsquo;s community relations department. We have built a lot of strong partnerships [such as] Random Acts of Kindness Day. It was a lot bigger than in past years where all our commercial services were involved in Random Acts of Kindness Day, where we did small kind gestures for the community &hellip; It&rsquo;s not done yet, but coming up the City of Waterloo is hosting Winterloo, which is a winter carnival &hellip; We have built on a lot of the existing partnerships that we have like Canada Day which targets members of the community.&nbsp;

<strong>Have you engaged satellite campuses and their societies?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>Definitely&hellip; I&rsquo;ve made a lot of visits to satellite campuses personally and met with their exec teams ... Most recently, we did Feds on tour, in late fall term ... just a small gesture to show satellite campuses that, &ldquo;Hey, Feds is here, we care about you, and this time we are actually planning on having a satellite campus Bomber night.&rdquo; Another mini accomplishment was I drafted a policy on satellite campus relations through our student&rsquo;s council and it passed. I think it was a unanimous vote of our council... I wanted some sort of real policy in place that would guide future Feds execs on how much they should interact with them, how they should promote any elections that happen in Feds to them, any big events that happen on campus like the carnival or the big concert that we do every Welcome Week, that we should find ways for them to make it accessible to them. That policy I think will go a long ways to ensuring that satellite campuses are engaged and looked after in the future; even when I am gone.

<strong>Were there any unresolved issues that existed with satellite campuses before your term?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>There are still unresolved issues that I am advocating to the university for&hellip;. They aren&rsquo;t things that Feds can immediately solve for them. Our role is to lobby the university. A good example is the taxi service that pharmacy campus students have. We are also helping students at the architecture campus in Cambridge with getting better access to counselling and health services. Those are issues that Feds obviously can&rsquo;t solve, but we can help those students lobby the university or whatever stakeholders to help resolve.

<strong>So you talked in your campaign about adding new lockers to the SLC, what is the status of this project?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>Where the current club lockers are, that&rsquo;s where the plan for the new service kitchen [is]&hellip;. My campaign promise was to apply to the Student Life Endowment Fund to get new club lockers because [the current] ones are really old and worn out The Student Life Endowment Fund deadline happens in February and I will be putting in an application to have them replaced. Again, it is up to the committee to decide if they want to provide funding for that or not.

<strong>What is the status of the New Club Bursary?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>The New Club Bursary, to be very honest, hasn&rsquo;t been resolved yet. We are still trying to figure out what is the best way to benefit student groups in a way that is fair and uses funds in an efficient manner .... I really hope that by the end of my term as VP Internal, that that will be accomplished.

<strong>What efforts have you made in partnership with the Women&rsquo;s Centre to increase awareness of feminism?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>So you might remember that the university announced our participation in the HeForShe campaign. It was a big thing for the University of Waterloo &hellip; I think it is absolutely essential that it involves a group on campus that deals with those issues and that is the Women&rsquo;s Centre. So my work, to answer your question, has been to make sure that the Women&rsquo;s Centre plays a very important role and a very influential role in the implementation of the HeForShe campaign on our campus. I have done that by setting up regular meetings with the person in charge of the HeForShe campaign, Diana Perry &hellip; I will have to admit and say that I am not an expert and they are. So I would like to empower them, I think I can do that by making sure I facilitate meetings between the university and the Women&rsquo;s Centre coordinators and have an active relationship.

<strong>What is the status on gender-neutral washrooms on campus?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>The equity office is working on rebranding a lot of washrooms and converting them into becoming gender neutral washrooms &hellip;. A few washrooms are already complete, they are gender-neutral and as part of my role on the provost advisory committee on equity and the LBGTQQA advisory group, we are continuing to work with the university on re-retrofitting a lot of the existing washrooms and making them gender neutral. Glow, one of our services, is playing a very active role in that.

<strong>Were you able to help the food bank reduce stigma&rsquo;s associated with poverty?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>One of my plans to greatly address that issue, stigma, was related to the construction of the service kitchen. The idea is, once there is a student kitchen on campus, services like the food bank would be able to host cooking type events or soup kitchens where students are able to come and either get food or learn to make their own food and learn about the food bank in a more fun and engaging way. As you can probably tell, the service kitchen project is one that take a long time and construction and all that stuff is going to take a few more months &hellip; but there are a lot of other ways where I think we have combatted that whole sense of stigma when it comes to accessing food or accessing the food bank. I talked about it in the election campaign, there is sort of barriers there; one is getting students to donate food to the food bank. The other one is in getting students to access the food bank. I think we have gotten really good at getting students to donate food part through events like CanBuild, where students make structures with donated food items and working with varsity and things like that ....There are a lot of students on this campus that require food and it is nothing to be ashamed about to go access the food bank.&nbsp;

<strong>What stage is the Walk safe project in?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>My campaign promise was to look into the feasibility of a Walk safe program. I formed a committee of students to help me determine that. I didn&rsquo;t think it was appropriate that I should unilaterally decide if that is something students want to do or not. We formed a campus safety task force in early 2015 to look at campus safety realistically and to look at what the feasibility for a Walk safe program is. At the time, the task force said that with the amount of resources required for a Walk safe program it wasn&rsquo;t feasible. But they continued to work with the university to acquire resources to create a way where we could make it a feasible program. I think I have continued to do that. I don&rsquo;t think we are at the point yet to be frank where it is feasible to start a Walk safe program.

<strong>Is there anything you wish you did differently during the term?</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>I think it would be when it comes to society relations. I am referring to my first year as VP Internal. When it comes to society relations what I did was my strategy [all along] &hellip;I wanted to build better relationships with all student societies and the way I thought was best to meet with them individually. Back in 2014 when I first became VP Internal ... I realized there was an appetite for a lot of these societies to meet with each other. To have cross-society engagement and to be able to talk to other societies. By the time I was able &hellip; to get around to hosting meeting between all societies[,] I think &hellip; it was a little too late for societies to be able to collaborate on joint-events. If there was something I could do differently, what I would do is have those individual one-on-one meetings because I think it is important that societies realize that Feds is here to help them, support them etc .... So I have learned from that this time, we are trying to get that meeting early on in this winter term organized and it should be happening within the next week or so. Early February or late January.

<strong>If you could rate your performance as VP internal, what grade would you give yourself?&nbsp;</strong>

<strong>M: </strong>I don&rsquo;t think I am perfect. I think there are a lot of areas I have continued to improve in. Like in my second year as VP Internal, I saw all the different areas I could improve in, society relations being one of them, staff relations being one of them. As a student coming into office not having ever be the boss of anybody, having staff reporting to you was a steep learning curve &hellip; I would say that I think I have taken on a lot of new projects throughout my term that I have helped students and that I will continue to help students. I would like to think I have done a good job of being accessible and being open to students by reaching out to them. I have been very active on social media. I think I will say that whenever I have made mistakes or not done something well, I have been very open to be criticised by student, by the media, on social media. I have improved myself. So I think to summarize and answer your question, I think I did a good job and if there were ever times when I was told that I didn&rsquo;t, I tried to really better myself and improve myself and respond to student criticisms.


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