McGill Tribune: What experience do you have that has prepared you for this position?
Stefan Fong: When I joined McGill, I knew right away that I was going to be a part of a student group because that’s what I had done since high school and following on through CEGEP. I found The Musician’s Collective by pure chance and it so happened that that semester that I joined McGill, they were looking for four new executives. And so, I joined as a new executive and since then I’ve just been part of that student group at McGill. I’ve been president of The Musician’s Collective for a year now, and before then I was VP External and VP Finance. I’ve been juggling both roles, because they have never done finance before and I started doing that for them.
MT: What would you bring out of that experience to the portfolio?
SF: A great thing about my group is that it’s an over-arching network of musicians. And so, part of my job as [VP] External when I joined was communicating with other groups and because of that, I’ve gotten to know what other groups have to face. And especially this year because now we’ve got an office and we share the office and so I hear everyone’s grievances. I’ve gotten to know a lot of different clubs, even while campaigning, I get to talk with them and see what sort of issues they have been dealing with. My job was to talk to Carol [Fraser], who used to be the VP Clubs and Services, and also talk to Shyam [Patel], who used to be the VP Finance. This year, I’ve been working a lot with [current VP Clubs & Services] Alison because we just turned into a service—which is exciting. And so, interactions with SSMU have taught me what’s going on.
MT: So what would you change as VP Clubs & Services to address the issues you are familiar with, being a club executive?
SF: One of the things that I find unfortunate is the fact that there are three [Clubs and Services representatives to SSMU] … but as clubs, we were never told that these three students are there to help us and to represent us. So, when I joined The Musician’s Collective—[which] had become a new group the year before and had just been granted full status as a club—we didn’t know how to do many things. It’s a shame because clubs really do need to know that these people are there to help. I think that Alison gets overwhelmed by so many emails from clubs because, as soon as they have a problem, they think that Alison will be able to help them. And it’s true that it’s her job, but 300 clubs sending emails daily [is] a lot to go through. Some of that work could be shared with the C&S representatives so that everyone would be able to share their responsibility. In that sense, the C&S reps would better be able to represent students on council because they’d be more familiar with the issues that a lot of the clubs are facing.
MT: As VP Clubs & Services, you have so many different people to answer to—all the clubs, all the services, all the independent groups. How do you make yourself a presence for all of those different people? How do you make yourself accessible to all of those representative groups?
SF: I think it’s really important to make sure that people find you accessible and open. It’s important to reserve time for the clubs and I think that to have office hours outside the office is a good idea, and to hold them somewhere public where students can approach you with any issues. I think that if we were to do that, the clubs lounge would be an ideal place. And so I might definitely consider having my office hours in the clubs lounge so any club can come and see me at any time. Another thing that a lot of clubs have been telling me is that they send a lot of e-mails and they don’t always get a reply as soon as they’d like, so I think it’s important to touch base [with] clubs.
MT: I know that creating budgets for clubs is a big problem, filing tax returns, getting audits and stuff like that. How would you work to address those issues specifically?
SF: Each club is like its own island, You have to be flexible and be able to deal with a range of issues. I know one other thing that Alison is working on this year is what is it called Clubpedia. It’s important to make sure that clubs have easy access to this kind of [financial and administrative] information and Clubpedia is a fantastic way of doing it by putting everything in one place. You can go on the website. You can fill out the form directly there. You don’t have to submit it in person.
MT: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
SF: Oh my goodness, um, if I had a superpower…I think that it would be really cool to be able to control the elements. I think that would be pretty insane.
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