A reflection and a look forward
Author: Derek Cameron – News Writer
This week the Carillon had a chance to sit down with, as pictured above, URSU VP internal affairs Luanne Drake, VP external affairs Daniella Zemlak, VP operations and finance Minsoo Cho, and President Devon Peters. Here’s what they had to say.
DC: What have been the objectives of URSU for 2014-15?
DP: It’s been a rebuilding year for us. We made a strategic plan over one long weekend of hard work. We realized our goal was to develop professionalism, excellence, and a strong non-profit side to the organization.
DZ: Just marketing URSU better, having a presence on campus in a way that hasn’t been done before.
DC: How do you feel you have carried out those objectives so far?
LD: We’ve done a pretty good job, I think. We’ve had a lot of events. We had the gala at the start of the year and done a lot of campaigns.
MC: I’ve been meeting groups and clubs and they feel like URSU is a place they trust and can come to.
DP: Working in the office. It’s not glamorous. We’ve replaced every single existing policy. It means the operation is way more efficient and working more smoothly than it used to.
DC: For the rest of the term how are you planning on building on that?
DP: Keep going. We had a big hole to build out of. There were a lot of things that were not quite running smooth enough. We haven’t had any shortage of work. I’m pretty sure there [aren’t] any of us who wouldn’t wish we had two years.
DZ: Preparing the organization for a turnover. There could be a brand new executive with new goals.
DC: Are there any challenges you foresee coming up?
DP: Smooth Sailing. No, you know, there’s always challenges and it’s always unexpected things. It’s the phone calls two o’clock on a Thursday that you’re not expecting that pose the biggest challenge. Putting out the fires is the biggest challenge at this point in the year.
LD: You want the students to see you, but you have to be in meetings. Trying to find time to balance that.
DZ: Balance. I find myself working on projects and then I have to go home and deal with emails. All the busy work is what you don’t see. It’s hard to stay focused on that when you see all the other things you could do for the campus community but you can’t do those things unless you’re doing it the right way.
MC: Keeping consistency in my work. I have to make sure whomever takes over my position will take over that important long-term project.
DP: Don’t forget, all four of us are students at the same time. Sometimes the workload just gets out of hand.
DC: What’s been the student response to getting people involved?
DP: The V- team, that’s Daniella.
DZ: We had something similar that folded into the ambassadors. The V-team became like the elite. They get to represent URSU. Frost week was a great opportunity for the V-team we got about twenty people who we said ‘Hey come do this for the rest of the year’ and they said ‘Of course, this is awesome.”
MC: URSU is sponsoring a lot of campus events and clubs. Not just giving money. We advertise and if we are free we try to be there.
DP: Organizationally we got a new communications and marketing specialist who’s done phenomenal things – you’ve seen the posters we’ve put out. And to go back to last year, around this time URSU was starting to face attendance problems the board had disengaged, given up. Our board is super engaged. We’ve seen great interest from all of them.
DC: How does your executive differ from past executives?
DP: Having a plan. Our defining mission is to serve every single student. [Whether] through the desk, or throwing parties at the Owl.
DZ: We need to not focus on the past anymore, what’s happened has happened. We’re trying to make a new face on campus.
DC: What changes have you made to URSU as an organization?
MC: First thing, we posted all of the missing financial statements. We are trying to keep everything up to date. Internally, we set accountability meeting with the GM and set goals. To ensure the HR process and all the financial process are done the right way.
DP: We have also done a lot of work with making our services accessible to students. One of the big initiatives we have been working on, we approved rebuilding our website. There’s 20,000 words of content. We are going to be launching URSU’s new website coming up next month. The new website is fast; it works great on your phone. Our accountant has also started to catch up. We should be able to do financial reporting at least semesterly.
DC: What is the financial state of URSU?
MC: We set goals for the next few years, and we are getting there. It’s really positive.
DC: What are your biggest accomplishments this term?
LD: Mental Wellness Week was one. It was new and it was neat to do that.
DZ: My top two — Mental Wellness and Frost Week. Mental wellness, that’s a case close to my heart and having Theo Fleury here and having one-on-one conversations with him completed my life. Not only that, but the positive change; after Mental Wellness Week I got inbox messages on Facebook, completely random students, telling me I completely changed their life.
DP: The biggest one for me this year, basically every position has swapped in the organization. We’ve literally taken every person and said, “re-evaluated your skill set and figured out what you’re good at” and then put them in a place that works best.
MC: For me, one of the most exciting things that hasn’t been mentioned: All the communications departments have become really strong and they are ready to work with the next executive. And we have 82 individual clubs and I have met with all of them.
LD: I find a lot of satisfaction in projects that succeed. I did a couple projects with the library, the yoUR library campaign and The Grind.
DC: Is URSU ever going to allow recording of board meetings?
DP: I think what’s been missed with that is the risk comes with URSU not controlling recordings. We are looking at purchasing our own equipment.