Better know an URSU executive
The new VP of Operations and Finance is ready to begin his term
While most students are enjoying their summer, the new executives at URSU have been getting settled into their jobs over the course of the past few weeks. The Carillon was able to sit down with VP of Operations and Finance Matthew Mutschler and get a closer look at one of the new faces of URSU.
What made you want to get into student politics?
Mutschler: I have always been a very financially-oriented person, getting that from my dad, and taking that into my life, that’s why I decided to major in accounting. I only heard about URSU last year because I wasn’t very involved, then I found about the board and executive positions, and I thought it would be really good experience. I had never really explored my political side, and I looked into it and started reading Carillon articles, and thought it was pretty cool. I got to know some of the people on the board and some of the executives, and thought that I could do this. Then I had a few meetings with MinSoo [Cho], and knew she would set me up pretty good for this with transitioning. Then it turns out I was running unopposed, so I was like, here we go!
URSU has experienced a lot of transition in the past month since the recent elections. How have you acclimated to your new position, and what has former VP of Operations and Finance MinSoo Cho done to help?
Mutschler: There’s been a huge learning curve for sure. It was nice for Jason [Gagnon] and Lynn [Barber] because they had the outgoing executives training them, but for me, MinSoo moved back to South Korea, and she’s going to stay there for a little bit, so my position was a little tricky. MinSoo put together a transition document for me, and I’ve been in touch with her a lot, so it has been tricky for sure. Devon’s a good guy to have around just because he’s been around URSU forever, and he spends all his time learning, so when I have a question, he’s always a good guy to have around. There’s been a lot of transition for everyone, but I think we’re going to have a really good executive once we get the ball rolling.
What would you say is the direction of URSU this coming school year?
Mutschler: Two years ago, URSU was a really business-oriented executive group, and this past year Devon [Peters] came in and built up URSU internally, Daniella [Zemlak] focused a lot on public relations stuff and getting a better face for URSU, which Luanne [Drake] also had a big part in. As for this year, obviously, we have the U-Pass negotiations and the city is getting going on those in the next few months. Devon and I have to prepare for negotiations for our collective agreement that’s coming to the end of its term, which is going to be interesting for us because how often do students get to do something like that? Finally, we’re probably going to experience being in the black this year, so not having an operating loss is going to be great for us. We should be looking good for plenty of years to come.
Student turnout for the last URSU elections were great. How do you plan on keeping student involvement high in politics and at the U of R in general?
Mutschler: Getting a great welcome week is huge, because not only will students be interested in URSU from the party standpoint, but also what we do, the services that we offer. Jason is working on a lot of stuff with the new residents, getting them to talk with and learn about us. The biggest thing is getting students involved with us. For example, a lot of students are unaware that we have an emergency bursary fund. We want students to know that we have counseling services and funding for events. Politics might not be for everyone, so that’s why we want to appeal to everyone with these events.
URSU executives often face a lot of criticism, being prominent faces of the school. How do you plan to face the criticisms that will come your way?
Mutschler: As elected officials for URSU, we always need to have the best interest for every student in mind, even if it is a decision that I don’t agree with. I have nearly 15,000 students that I’m going to be making decisions on behalf of, so I need to be able to say that it’s not about me, but about them. In terms of general decision-making, things that involve every student, you have to keep everyone in mind as best you can, and explain yourself to those who don’t necessarily agree. Politics are new to me, so I guess we’ll see how things go.
On the U-Pass negotiations:
Mutschler: It’s going to be really cool to say that we’ve changed Regina transit forever. Not only do we have to figure out our initial plan, but also in the future. If we’re going to give them X amount of dollars over the contract, how can we keep the transit system improving? It’s about creating the foundation for a transit system like Saskatoon, Montreal or another city with a centrally located university hub.
What are some of the events that you guys have done since the beginning of the summer?
Mutschler: We were having maintenance done on our computers, so we could either close down the office for the day, or go do something for the day. Carmichael has this great community program where you show up in the morning, and clean up the downtown area of trash and anything else that you see. The Owl donated hamburgers, buns and condiments for the volunteers and the employees of Carmichael, which was great. Things won’t get super busy until the first day of school when I meet with all the clubs. So for me it’s about learning my job, meeting people and going to conferences and seeing what programs we can implement here. For the most part, the big events will be coming in the Fall.