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A Peek into SFU’s Board of Governors as a Student Member
Being able to make a difference in communities he cares about is something that guides Master of Public Policy candidate, Georges Gardinetti. It’s guided him in his academic and career choices, as well as his decision to serve on SFU’s Board of Governors (BoG).
Gardinetti first learned about the opportunity through his Public Policy student mentor, Daniel Lam, who served on the Senate and encouraged him to look into similar opportunities to get involved in the SFU community.
“I noticed that this position was available from the email campaign soliciting nominations, I ran and was elected to the position,” says Gardinetti.
As he hadn’t served on a board before, Gardinetti reached out to previous graduate student board representative Alexandra Gunn to answer his questions and provide advice. Additionally, Gardinetti was provided with a handbook and direct instruction on the parameters of his role by Val Rodden, Nicole Shin, and Li-Jeen Broshko. They explained the fiduciary duty that applies to members of the BoG under the University Act (members must act in the best interests of the University). Lastly, James Stewart, former chair of the Board provided sage guidance and offered support as needed.
Board members comprise a variety of professionals in various academic as well as non-academic careers and make decisions for what’s in the best interest of the University, regardless of who they are and their background.
Gardinetti sees this as a positive.
“I’m impressed by the progressive nature of all individuals on the BoG. They are willing to listen, are open-minded, and do what they can to address the issues and concerns brought before the board. The success of the entire University is at the forefront of their work ̶ for students, staff, faculty and community members alike.”
Gardinetti discovered the complexities of running a university where the Board works to balance the practicalities of decisions within a complicated structure.
“Everything is connected like a spider web. If you touch one part, another part of the web feels the repercussions,” says Gardinetti.
As a student member, Gardinetti learned that while he may have the perspective of a current graduate student, he isn’t representing the graduate student constituency.
“It’s different from being a member of the GSS or other student groups where you’re representing and advocating for their specific needs and interests. In this role, the views of all stakeholders are taken into consideration within the larger context of the University functioning at its best,” says Gardinetti.
Gardinetti plans on completing his master’s degree this summer and hopes to continue working within a local, provincial or federal public service sector.
“It was a big decision for me to come back to school in my 30s. Ultimately I was confident that it was the right step. SFU’s Public Policy program is one of the best in the country for balancing both the theoretical and practical components of understanding policymaking,” says Gardinetti.
“I’ve seen how it’s helped prepare me for my Co-op experience working as a Junior Policy Analyst at Global Affairs Canada. Working with them during a pandemic and an election, it has been eye-opening to be in such a fast-paced, constantly evolving environment given the sometimes-sterile reputation of government work. There is a huge amount of cooperation and coordination between all arms and levels of government when crafting public policy.”
And while all students may not be destined for public service roles, Gardinetti believes that all students should get involved with the SFU community in some way.
“I would encourage every student to pursue any and all opportunities at SFU, whether it's through clubs, recreation, student societies, senate, or the BoG. I’ve found it opens your eyes to other possibilities and provides a sense of satisfaction that you’ve done your part to make a difference in the world around you. Getting involved means having your voice heard. The world is far from perfect, but if you just sit around and complain, you may never see the change you seek,” says Gardinetti.