WLUSU president recaps his term
This year was nothing short of uneventful for Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union president and CEO Nick Gibson. Between a challenging restructuring process, changes to general volunteer hiring, a proposal for a fall reading week and a multi-campus governance venture to ensure equal representation on both Brantford and Waterloo campuses, Gibson hand his hands full this year.
As one term ends and another begins, Gibson took time to reflect on his experiences as president and to pass on some of the lessons he has learned.
“You don’t really realize how much you’re going to learn until you are in my position. I think one big thing that I have learned is what is the capacity of this organization to do certain things,” said Gibson. “Ultimately, you have to make decisions based on a strategy that will give the best results that you think possible for the students at large.”
Gibson, while looking back upon the challenges of many contentious situations, noted there were major successes as well as opportunities for improvement.
“Communication is not as simple as people like to put it out, we’re an organization with many moving parts, so you can have very good communication, but you can never have perfect communication. I think people need to realize that, but there are always opportunities for improvement. We need to be always improving,” he added.
“The changes to the Terrace were also a huge success in my mind, it really allowed us to refocus the organization on directly supporting students and allowing the food court to still operate without dealing with the day to day stuff,” he said.
Regardless of the issue, Gibson was subject to criticism from students and some volunteers. A part of the learning experience, he explained, was learning to separate the personal from the political.
“People can make their own judgements on that front, but that’s just something I have learned when I’m watching people … Even if you disagree with the idea, having ad hominem sort of attacks and challenges does not help us, does not bring us forward and does not create better opportunities for people,” he said.
When asked what kind of advice he would give to incoming president-elect Michael Onabolu, Gibson said to focus on your intentions as well as your support system. “I think the biggest thing is all about intentions. If you intend well, yes, you are going to make mistakes. That is a given; you will make mistakes,” he said. “It will be very unclear as to whether they’re attacking you or your position. I’ve had my fair share, and I think the biggest thing is just separating that.”
While Gibson will be spending his next year as a residence life don in Little House, he mentioned that the thought of being president again did cross his mind very seriously at a point in his term.
“Would I do it again? It’s hard to say … If I somehow woke up one day and I was the president again, I wouldn’t be angry,” he said, if he had the opportunity to do it another time. “The reality is that I wouldn’t do it again, but I love the role.”
Despite the challenges and struggles of running an organization, Gibson remembers the positive experience he has had as president and CEO.
“This sounds corny, but I just loved the opportunity to serve people, to make changes that are positive in my mind — obviously people can make judgements on that as they see it— but I do relish that opportunity and I feel I have tried my best to take advantage of that opportunity. I will continue to do that serving others in different ways as I move forward, but [this] was certainly a highlight of my life so far. It’ll be something I certainly miss but bigger and better challenges are hopefully ahead,” he concluded.
– With files from Justin Smirlies