By Leah Ching, Staff Writer
ʺI love the student union. I love a challenge, and I’ll never shy away from a challenge—put that in your interview.” Roman Jakubowski is used to challenges by now. The incumbent student union president has just gone through his second election campaign and has secured his position as president of the union for another term. After a whirlwind first year, and up against three other candidates, Jakubowsi won with 45.3% of the vote from participating students. Finishing up his first year in the position, he spoke to The Argus about winning the presidency for a second time, and about the future of the union under his leadership.
Looking toward the future, obviously you must have a lot of goals and plans you’d like to fulfill during your term. What is your one goal, or first priority, that you’re looking forward to fulfilling this year?
I think that maybe people who haven’t been doing this job for a year are going to give you an answer of a specific project, or something that’s close to their heart. I think that it’s really important that the number one thing for executives is that we do not get sidetracked by pet projects. As an executive, you are there to represent students and to work in their best interests. You’re not there to advance your own project and the things you care about.
For me it’s important to somewhat remove yourself from the situation. It’s not about what you want when you’re in a role like this, it’s about what the students want. And so, my goal is to leave the union in a better position than it was in when I got there. For that to happen, we need to do a lot of things.
For example, training for new executives last year did not start until the beginning of the executive term. This year, we know who the board is, we know who the new executive is, and we’re not going to waste time messing around. We have to get these people up to speed as soon as possible.
There’s a lot of people that were re-elected this year, and also a lot of new faces to the executive and the board. How do you bridge the gap between the two groups—training new representatives while fostering a positive work environment and good work relationships between employees old and new?
It’s definitely an asset to have people that have been working for the union for a year. Undeniably, the other executives don’t really know what’s going on, and need general training about the union and role specific training. We’re going to start general training earlier this year, so we can get those new employees transitioning into their roles more smoothly. Also, I’m really excited that we’re mandated to do anti-oppression training. We’re bringing in someone that’s very qualified, so I’m really stoked about that. It’s important to me to bring in people that are qualified, and to recognize when you’re not an expert in a certain area. That’s something I think I’ve been good at. Recruiting talented people. That’s a big part of all of our jobs as student union execs, bringing people into the work of the union.
POLI SCI 3519 would be a good example of that. We’re setting it up for next year, creating a real vehicle and training students to participate in university decision making.
Do you feel a sense of relief now that the elections campaign is over and you know that you will be continuing your presidency for a second year?
I definitely do feel a huge sense of relief. It feels good to be going another year, and I’m super excited to be working with Farhan and Mo. We have a really great board this year, it’s really diverse and there are a lot of different groups represented. It’s not just diversity for diversity’s sake, and that makes me really excited.