Your new NAIT Students’ Association executive took office last May, after an election earlier in the spring. The four are beginning the new year and have a number of priorities in mind to help enrich the student experience at NAIT.
The executives are comprised of the president, vice president academic, vice president external and vice president student services. Each executive holds a portfolio that encompasses different aspects of student life and work full time driving important student initiatives. Any full-time students have the option to run for Senate or Executive Council. We met with each member to ask:
1. What is your role at NAIT?
2. How does this affect the average student?
3. What’s something about your role/the council that people may not know/understand?
4. What is the main impact you’d want to leave in your term here at NAIT?
Naomi Pela – President:
1. “I help represent NAITSA. I’m sort of the spokesperson or point of contact for NAIT or any external organizations looking to get in touch. I take a sort of team lead role, and try to organize ourselves as a team.”
2. “I would hope that the [average] student, if they have any questions, or concerns that they’d just come up to me. I want to be there for the students – I’m mostly here to serve the students and advocate on their behalf.”
3. “[Students may think] that the council is all about talking to people and going to meetings, but there’s quite a bit more to it. We [actually] sit on a lot of committees, both at NAIT and externally, where we talk about student issues. We’re also very involved with the government. We’re really involved in a lot of things that may not come to [the student’s] mind.”
4. “ I would hope by the end that they know that we do our best to advocate for them and their needs. We’ve set our goals for the year, so by the end of the year I hope we’ve made great strides and have either accomplished, or are at least close to accomplishing the goals we’ve set for the year.”
Brenda Needham- VP Academic:
1. “I help find solutions for students with their instructors, whether it be on the grades, conflict resolution, stuff like that. I work very closely with NAIT’s Ombudsperson [a neutral representative for both NAIT and NAITSA] and their Student Resolution Officer.”
2. “Hopefully I can help the [average student] with finding out what their rights and responsibilities are. I’m here to help students.”
3. “Most students don’t know that we’re a student-driven force; we’re here to make sure students are taken care of by their rights. We’re student-focused, we’re the student voice.”
4. “One thing, is that I’m working on getting a fall break. Unfortunately, it will probably not be until 2021 – it’s not a simple solution, it’s something we have to work on. [But] if it’s not resolved by the end of my term, then I’m hoping whoever takes over will continue to work on it.”
Karen Velasco- VP External:
1.“I deal with external stakeholders [like] government, U-Pass, lobbying for tuition fees.”
2. “Most of the concerns for students are transit and tuition fees. Even the simple things like crosswalks. We try to make the space safe for the average student.”
3. “We have student lobbying groups with a bunch of other schools that have the same concerns for their students. We get together and lobby so we have one voice.”
4. “It can be difficult to make a big difference, so it’s about the little things. [Things like] having painted crosswalks, or regulating fees for international students or personal development for students [work with soft skills]; making them more comfortable here.”
Willow Shelley – VP Student Services:
1. “My biggest role is to promote well-being with students across campus. That means all students are having an awesome time here, and their mental and physical health is taken care of. I work closely with Campus Life for mental health initiatives and with campus rec. to ensure that these free [physical health] classes are continued and being promoted in a way that students actually know about them.”
2. “My goal is to make more student opportunities through creating committees. [A few examples being] a sustainability committee, a design committee to revamp our current space so students feel more welcome to come in, and we’re putting in a peer-support program at NAIT – that’s where I’ll see a lot of [the average] students.”
3. “There are so many services, and events that are actually free. Our events, I think, are incredible, and I want students to be able to use them, but they may just not know about them.”
4. “I want students to feel that their voice is heard, that their opinion is important when it comes to classes, events on campus, and initiatives. And that they’re actually supported here at NAIT. If I left knowing that students had more supports, were aware of them, and therefore felt that they could speak up more, I’d love that.”