As controversy about the recent Humber Students’ Federation presidential election continues, former HSF presidents are reflecting on their time in power and how they kept themselves accountable to the student body.
Muhammad Virk was president of the Student Advisory Council, the precursor to the HSF, from 1999 to 2000. He currently serves as an enrollment management and statistical analyst with the Office of the Registrar at Humber.
“We always had it mind that we are here for students, we are students,” said Virk. “So, for us, nothing is hidden – we were dealing with their issues, we were dealing with their budget, if you have an issue, as long as we can serve you, we are here.”
Lesia Bailey, HSF president 1994-95, noted that keeping the budget process accountable was important to her during her time in office.
“Budget meetings are important to keep public,” she said. “Don’t forget, this is the students’ money you’re dealing with.”
“I just went out and talked to the students all the time,” said Mike Berg, who served as president 2006-07 and currently works as manager of communications for the Humber registrar’s office.
“It’s an important role – you have to be transparent, you have to be out there in the community, and I think it’s important that the students have somebody to talk to,” said Berg.
Berg noted he started town hall meetings for students to come and voice their opinions as part of an accountability process, although he said that turnout was not high.
“Which is unfortunate, because it’s a huge opportunity for students to get involved,” he said.
What advice to the new president – indeed, any student politician — did the past leaders offer?
“Be genuine,” said Virk. “They need to have a passion for the job. Say, ‘I’m going to lead,’ but don’t say you’re going to do it alone – we’ve got to do it together.”
Bailey is more direct.
“Don’t get into it for yourself,” she said. “Remember that you’re there to serve the students.”
Bailey said people who remember her time as president still occasionally recognize her on the street. She noted her active role in bringing day care to Humber, for which people still thank her.
“We made this office for students it’s their office,” said Virk. “The confidence has to be there for students.”