With University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union elections just around the corner, the Sheaf was able to catch up with vice-president student affairs Jack Saddleback to get an inside look at the value of the student union’s executive team.
Saddleback has been involved with the USSU for the past four years. He started out as a volunteer with the USSU and was eventually hired on as a coordinator of its Pride Centre from 2012–14. This experience within the basic operations of the student union proved useful, as he then ran and was elected into the vice-president position. Saddleback reflects fondly on some of the high points from his term, in particular on those areas where he feels he helped make a difference.
“A few of the highlights I’ve had for this past year, first off, has been with the childcare build,” said Saddleback. “Having the university move forward after pressure from the USSU with the new childcare centre was refreshing to see.”
As vice-president student affairs, Saddleback has been responsible for representing the university’s student body and addressing their needs. This role is vital in improving the campus and in best promoting an ideal space to sustain learning opportunities.
“Another highlight has been the amount of discussion and support that the whole campus community has shown in regards to mental health,” Saddleback said. “The campus community feels it is time to have an open conversation on how to create a better environment for mental health initiatives and services.”
It is this attention to universal issues, which resonate outside the university itself, that are prime examples of how the USSU has been promoting positive progression on campus, making their ongoing presence and commitment invaluable to university campus life and beyond.
Saddleback points out, however, that there are challenges he has faced in his role.
“The struggles that I have overcome in my current position have been with the scope of my portfolio. The student affairs portfolio is one of — if not the — most diverse of the USSU executive.”
Volunteering for the USSU may not necessarily lead to an executive candidacy, though it may connect students with the inner workings of the union.
“In preparation for running for this position, I asked a number of the former student affairs executives about the position but until actually stepping into the role [I didn’t] see how vast the portfolio is,” Saddleback said. “The first few months consisted of getting familiar with all of the subjects that I would be covering for the year and I was then able to get a firm grasp on the portfolio.”
Looking ahead, Saddleback says that he is very hopeful for the upcoming USSU elections.
“We have amazing students here on campus from diverse backgrounds that are committed to creating a better student experience for all students.”
Following in Saddleback’s footsteps might have a hefty challenge ahead of them, but the vice-president had a positive message for those considering running for an executive position, saying that prospective candidates in the upcoming USSU election should “dream big.”
“Being a USSU executive will be as good as you make it and this is an excellent time to create a better campus community for all.”
One does not have to run for an executive position in order to “make a difference on campus,” Saddleback said, as is the USSU advertising slogan. By volunteering for the centres or spending time as a student crew member, anyone is able to affect change from the ground up.
There are a range of volunteer opportunities in the Pride, Help, Women’s and Food centres, as well as with Safewalk. A student crew member, as detailed on the USSU website, is “a casual staffer for many diverse events on and off campus.”
Photo: Katherine Fedoroff