SU Reviews: SU president Emily Wyatt, a.k.a the ringmaster

By Emily Senger

Wyatt provides direction to the SU clowns, but without the cooperation of the clowns and all the other behind-the-scenes circus performers, there would be no show.

After two years of a Students’ Union with a largely external focus, SU president Emily Wyatt thought it was time to bring business back home and focus on the needs and wants of University of Calgary students.

As Wyatt commented in her interview, given the political climate of a shaky minority federal government and a new premier at the provincial level, this internal focus is needed at a time when provincial and federal politics are largely a waiting game.

Emily’s top five accomplishments
1. Increased communication with students through SU travelling office hours and an online student feedback board.
2. Created a strong executive team by developing executive leadership skills.
3. Lobbied government at both the provincial and federal levels.
4. Built and maintained positive relationships with administration and faculty.
5. Provided a voice for students in the community including speaking at the president’s report to the community, Eli Wiesel and the chancellor installation.

Yet to come
Follow up on provincial government tuition consultations and continued lobbying to lower tuition.
New quality money projects, which take student opinion into account.
Changes to the Den menu to bring back the deliciousness.
Continued communication with students.

Wyatt’s efforts to communicate with students have been mostly successful, even though her leadership style is a lot less refined than former SU prez Bryan West, whose smooth-talking politics gained him an almost unheard of two terms in the president’s corner office. The change is refreshing though–it’s nice to see an SU president who may be less polished, but genuinely cares about the needs of students.

Under Wyatt’s guidance the SU has developed innovative new ways to solicit student feedback from a normally apathetic student body. The SU executive now has weekly travelling office hours where they set up shop in different buildings around campus, give out free stuff, and actually talk to students about what the SU does and what students would like to see. There have also been “meet your faculty representative” sessions and a community cafe, a free lunch where students were asked to provide feedback about the U of C and what they’d like to see changed.

Despite the internal focus, the SU has maintained its external focus as well, and Wyatt, in conjunction with vice-president external Julie Labonte, has made continued connections with provincial and federal leaders, largely through the federal and provincial student lobby groups. Despite the unstable political climate, the pair have collaborated to represent students at the federal and provincial levels as well as possible.

This year’s SU is one of the strongest in quite sometime, and though the members often disagree, it is healthy debate; the internal squabbling that has marred SU executives in past years is noticeably absent. While this positive climate is due largely to the personalities of the five elected executive members, as the leader, Wyatt should take some credit for doing her job well.

Leave a comment