Why YOU Should Run for EngSoc VP Academic: Aren’t By-Elections fun?

Benjamin Beelen - VP Academic
Posted on: March 13, 2019

Congratulations to Ellen McGee, who will be succeeding Katie as president. If you’re keeping an eye on the EngSoc election news, you’ll notice we are currently running the vice presidential election! Something you may notice about this election, is that there are 5 positions up for election, VP finance, VP student life, VP communications, VP academic, and WEEF. The issue, is that we only have candidates for 4 of these! And the reason, I, VP academic, am discussing this in this article, is that there are no candidates for VP academic!

So, should YOU run for VP academic? First let’s talk about requirements. As per our by-laws, the president and the VP academic have to be in at least 2B when they start their term. So, that means you have to be in at least 2A to run. In this election, you’ll have to have academic terms on Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. Can’t make a term? You can run with a friend as long as one of you isn’t on term for either of those terms! We haven’t had a duel VP academic team in, (a very long time, I don’t actually know) but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

Now that we know you CAN run, why should you run? First off being executive for EngSoc has been awesome. You are immediately put in a term of awesome individuals on both A and B soc, with two sides to the executive team. Also you get an office desk with a computer on campus, with locker storage right next to it for free. You can use the orifice at any time for school work, engsoc work, just chilling with your fellow exec, any time! You also get a POETs key, which means all the foosball you want. Orifice and POETs are closed but you and your buddy want to play foosball/pingpong/pool? No problem.

On top of that, being exec is sweet, as VP academic you also get to hear about important changes to Waterloo’s operation as the first student in many cases. You also get to hear about the errors that seemingly perfect faculty members make. Such as the time that science accidentally made a program, accepted one person into it by accident, moved that person to the program they were supposed to be in and then closed the program they made by accident? Have you heard about that? Probably not, but if you were VP academic you would have!

There is also a huge chance for you to have one-on-ones with LOTS of faculty members for a variety of reasons. Contacting profs/departments for anything from help with an initiative to bringing concerns of students forward. Sometimes profs/faculty even make meetings with you just to get a student’s opinion. For example, Ajoy Opal recently made a meeting with me so he could hear a student’s perspective on the new course structure he is researching. He is now coming to council to hear more opinions, and as VP academic you get to make those connections!

This position has a lot of rewarding features. First off you are the advocating voice for the society on campus in many committees. You can decide what you want to change about campus and you have the power of thousands of engineering students behind your name. I wanted to see calligraphy brought back on our class photos, and now it’s happening in the best form that it could. I wanted to make communication between EngSoc and CECA better and now we have made a safety working group and are working on creating VPA reference docs on how to bring issues to CECA to better advocate for students. I wanted to protect o-week, and though that was an uphill battle, I held an audience with the VP academic of the university so that he could hear the views of the students. Many of these would have been much more difficult as just a regular student, but the power that is put behind you when you are elected is real. And you can use it to make real change.

Is it all sunshine and rainbows? Of course not. The VP academics behind me, the ones to come, and I all have failings. I wish I could have done more on mental health in my time, and I wish I had the ability to make better changes for it, but I’m doing what I can. Is o-week 5 days long? No, but boy did I make a stink about it, and I’m far from giving up on this issues even once I am done in this role.

The meetings take up lots of time some weeks, and the meetings aren’t scheduled with students in mind. Often they are during class and often you have to pick between the two. But you learn to manage it, and the faculty is very accepting if you can’t make a meeting because you have class. They are part of the reason you are in class after all.

Please come talk to me during my office hours (Mondays and Tuesdays 10:30-12:30 in CPH 1327-Orifice/Engineering Society Office) or email me with questions or to schedule a meeting at vpacademic.b@engsoc.uwaterloo.ca .

I implore you to consider this, even if you don’t know much about University politics, EngSoc, or the histories of either, you can still succeed at this position as long as you care about making the experience of engineering students at Waterloo better. You future you will thank you, I will thank you, and even though you won’t get told it, the students of Waterloo will thank you.

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