As Max FineDay sees out his term as the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union president, his accomplishments through the year will have a lasting effect on students’ lives.
FineDay has served two terms as the USSU president and has been involved in student politics for four years, including serving as a member at large on the External Affairs Committee and a member of University Students’ Council representative for the College of Arts and Science.
Having run on a platform focused on establishing the childcare centre, focusing on mental health and sustainability initiatives and getting a tuition waiver for students exiting the foster care system, FineDay is confident he has accomplished much of what he set out to do when he first ran as president.
“One thing I am deeply passionate about is expanding who is able to come to university, because we are missing a lot of voices here at the table today, and I am happy that we have been able to do that,” FineDay said. “Certainly there is a lot more work to do, but I hope that in my time here things have gotten a little bit better than when I had first sat in the president’s office.”
FineDay has been an advocate for equality in educational opportunities and has focused on involving more voices and diversity around the council table, including students from the inner city, low-income backgrounds, indigenous students, international students and students from foster care.
“I’m always going to be grateful to students for giving me the chance to serve them. We’ve made a lot of gains together in the past few years. It’s time to pass the role onto someone else,” FineDay said. “I’m hopeful whoever comes next remains dedicated to keeping the USSU a nationally recognized leader in student advocacy and doesn’t forget about the many students who are still struggling to be here.”
FineDay admits there have been several great moments throughout his presidency, but his interactions with students have been by and large the best part.
“The highlight of my job is speaking with students from across campus, about issues that matter to them. Each time folks from education, nursing, arts or other colleges come up and talk about their ideas for the USSU or the university has left me more passionate about my job, a little more eager to change the university for the better.”
As with most positions of authority, the job has not come without its challenges and some have been far more difficult than others.
“Most people don’t realize this, but every time a student passes away, I write to the family to express condolences on behalf of the USSU. We offer to donate the amount of student fees the student paid to a charity of their choice,” FineDay said. “I’ve had to write too many of those letters during my term. Hearing back and speaking to the families is equally uplifting and heartbreaking. They’ll often tell me about how dedicated the student was to their studies and their involvement in clubs and activities. Those conversations are hard.”
Despite these unexpected struggles, FineDay still encourages prospective candidates to put themselves out there, win or lose.
“You are making an impact on not only the USSU but also the campus community. Maybe it’s somebody from first year who is really drawn to your ideas and maybe your campaign will inspire them to run in a year or two,” FineDay said. “Whether the candidates win or they lose, they have contributed something and that’s something they should be very proud of.”
With the USSU election polls opening March 25 – 26, FineDay encourages all students to get out and vote.
“This is a partnership with your USSU executive,” FineDay said. “Find out who you want your partner to be, who you want to work with this next year and then cast your vote for that person.”
FineDay hopes to continue affecting positive change looking forward, but he’s setting his sights higher than the university campus.
“I’ve always been an activist. I’ve always been involved in community organizing… I look forward to returning to that,” FineDay said. “I am deeply passionate about Saskatoon and about our community, about the university and about moving our province forward in a way so that everyone can benefit.”