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Get Inspired to Get Involved: Running for Feds Exec

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Lisa Umholtz
Communications and Media Relations Specialist
Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:30

You may have seen your Feds Exec around campus or chatted with them during elections. But have you ever wondered how they got to where they are now, or wondered how you can get there yourself?

Current and past Execs took some time to chat about why they decided to run for Feds Exec and give advice to other students who might be considering following in their footsteps.

Andrew ClubineVice President Education Andrew Clubine got involved with Feds in his first year at the University of Waterloo as the Municipal Affairs Commissioner, working on different student issues like transit and OSAP. Soon he saw his efforts pay off: transit initiatives and OSAP reforms that he worked on are now being implemented.

“I loved doing research and speaking on behalf of students,” Clubine said. “I enjoyed it, but I also realized it was effective.”

President Antonio Brieva got involved with Imprint, Orientation and Student Success Office. Throughout each of these roles, Brieva learned more about Feds, University administration, and his fellow domestic and international students straight from the source, gaining a first-hand understanding of what was important to students.

“It captivated me,” he said.

While working at Feds as Government Affairs Commissioner, Antonio was asked by 2016-2017 Vice President Education Sarah Wiley if he had ever considered running for an Exec position. Although he hadn’t, the bug was put in his ear.

Antonio Brieva“I wanted to continue to enact the change I was seeing as Government Affairs Commissioner as an Exec,” he said. “That’s what motivated me to run.”

For Vice President Internal Jill Knight, it was her peers who first recognized she would be a good fit for the role.

“My friends told me I should run, but I didn’t take them seriously at first,” she said.

Her high level of on-the-ground engagement with students through her involvement in student societies, Orientation, donning, Athletics and SSO gave her plenty of experience in student affairs, so she began to consider running for the VP Internal position.

Jill Knight“This position intrigued me because from my previous experiences I felt I had a good understanding of students’ wants and needs,” she said. “I love the University and I wanted to give back to my community.”

For those who are interested in running in the future, each of the Exec strongly recommends getting involved in student life activities.

“Get involved in something with Feds and something not in Feds,” said Clubine. “Get to know your peers beyond your circle of friends – different faculties, clubs, backgrounds – and understand how they experience campus life. Go be a student and have some fun!”

VP Internal 2016-2017 Deanna Priori suggests exploring each role of the Exec and finding the one that fits best with your passion and skillset. Priori had always been heavily involved in campus life activities, from Orientation to Welcome Week and Wrap Up Week, to the Volunteer Centre, Diversity Team and Feds Board of Directors, so the VP Internal role spoke to her.

“I love the feeling of seeing really cool things you’ve worked on come to completion, and I wanted to keep doing that,” she said. “I genuinely felt my experience and passion for the student experience prepared me for the VP Internal role.”

The Execs all agree that being involved on campus and getting to know fellow students creates an in-depth and unique level of understanding of the student voice that you can’t get any other way.

Hearing first-hand what matters to students and realizing that they could help enact change to improve the student experience was a key motivator for each of them to run for Exec. Getting a sense of what is important to students through forming these connections and relationships was also crucial to narrowing down their platforms – the initiatives they would focus on during their time as Exec to make real change for students.

Brian Schwan“I had been involved with societies, clubs, Athletics and activities within my faculty,” Brian Schwan, Vice President Operations and Finance said. “By building relationships and getting student feedback in all of these areas, you’re essentially doing a student consultation that can help you set the priorities of your platform.”

“Set priorities that you believe are best for students by meeting with people, being a voice for students and advocating for students,” Priori said.

Once platforms have been set and candidacies announced, candidates go through a campaign period leading up to elections. Although campaigning may seem like a daunting task, Schwan and Brieva offered words of encouragement.

“Embrace the nervousness, embrace the anxiety, embrace the butterflies,” Schwan said. “There’s nothing like the experience of running for an Exec position, and the experience will help you grow as a person. Win or lose, you will come out of the experience a more informed and compassionate person.”

“I would encourage anybody who thinks they want to run to not let fear stop them,” Brieva said.

Finally, knowledge of Feds and student governance at Waterloo is a must for any potential Exec.

“It’s really important to understand the organization if you want to lead it,” Clubine said, adding that both volunteer and part-time opportunities to work with the Exec are available.

Take part in the Fall and Winter General Meetings, learn about Feds’ 50 years of empowering undergraduates, chat with current Execs and diverse groups of your peers, and get inspired to get involved with your student union.

If you’re not quite ready to lead Waterloo’s undergraduate student union yet but still want to get involved, there are plenty of other positions to run for on Students’ Council, Senate or Board of Directors. You’ll make genuine change, amplify the student voice, and gain real experience.

Let us be the first to put the bug in your ear - have you thought about running for Feds Exec?

Visit for more info or stop by the Feds main office in the SLC 1106 to chat with current Exec members and learn more.

For general questions about the elections process, please contact your current president, Antonio Brieva.