The Reckoner sat down with 2017-2018 SAC President Lisa Wang to discuss her presidency, election, and goals for the year.
Last year, Lisa became the SAC President by default, automatically winning as the only candidate for the position. She admits there have been some light-hearted jokes around how she became President, but insists that none of it has phased her or her presidency. “Fundamentally, I don’t think it has affected me. I’m really grateful for my position and I take it very seriously. I didn’t come in to the position thinking it would be an issue, and it hasn’t been.” If anything, she says, it has made her work harder. “It’s motivated me to work hard and show people it’s not because I was the only person that I was elected, but that I actually deserve this position and I want to make differences.”
If Lisa’s work so far is of any indication, there should be little doubt of her dedication. Two and a half months in, SAC has already held multiple pep rallies, coordinated apparel sales, chosen the Grade Representatives, and released the clubs budget. “There’s a lot of plans we still have yet to do and we have plans in the coming weeks, but I am really happy with all we’ve accomplished in just the past two months,” Lisa says. “I feel like we’ve done a lot.”
She points to the changes made to t-shirt and senior sweater sales. Unlike previous years, SAC chose to design the apparel themselves, with input from the apparel company’s professional designers, due to historically low participation from the student body in design submissions. It has worked out well, she says: apparel sales are taking place significantly earlier than in previous years, and this year’s sweater has embroidered letters, a feature SAC has wanted to include for some time. Regarding the concern over the resulting $7 increase in price, Lisa said, “For most people, they are going to buy senior sweaters anyways, and we just wanted to up the quality a little. Embroidery was something that a lot of students seemed interested in, so we wanted to deliver on that.”
Another major change that Lisa has already implemented—fulfilling one of her more ambitious platform promises—is a school-wide house colour system. SAC has already put the system in use and awarded points to houses through Spirit Week in late September. With it, SAC hopes to increase student spirit and engagement in school events and break down divides along program or grade lines. Explaining the thinking behind the initiative, Lisa says, “I want to show the rest of the student body that you can really interact with any student you want. Barriers of grade or program really don’t mean much.”
There have been some less prominent changes as well. Lisa mentions the increased teacher engagement in SAC endeavours. “This year we wanted to get teachers more involved. This year, t-shirt sales and sweater sales are open to teachers, and the response has been really good,” says Lisa. She also has been particularly pleased with how SAC was able to open club registrations and budget requests early enough to release their clubs budget at the beginning of October, several weeks earlier than last year.
Still, there is work yet to be done and more changes to be made, Lisa says. She has yet to fulfill her platform promise to livestream all SAC meetings and generally create better communication throughout the student body, especially with those without social media. While Lisa says social media is probably the easiest way to stay connected with SAC, she wants to extend SAC’s outreach and ensure that students without social media are not excluded. To address the issue, Lisa hopes to start classroom visits, which she found effective based on some conducted earlier in the year, and encourages students to visit “Ask SAC”, which is now open during lunch and certain periods, with any concerns or questions regarding SAC and its initiatives. Furthermore, to encourage participation in school clubs, SAC will soon publish a list of official clubs with their respective descriptions, contact information, and meeting time and location.
Lisa is also still looking to improve the previously mentioned house colour system. Regarding the latter, Lisa mentions that she is working with the administration to hold house colour assemblies that require students to be more involved. Through creating mandatory events, rather than create more optional events that fewer attend, Lisa hope to increase participation and engagement within the student body. Additionally, she hopes to create a better way of displaying the respective house points, and by the end of the year, aims to establish a structure that will be maintained by future SACs.
In the end, she says, it’s been challenging thus far, but rewarding: “The hardest part is being resilient and having to be always on-call and able to work on tasks and projects that come up on the spot. At the same time, I’ve really liked meeting and working with so many fresh faces and really motivated people that I probably wouldn’t have been able to had I not joined SAC.”
Finally, when asked to give a message to Garneau’s student body, Lisa said, “Don’t be afraid to try something new. Join a club, tryout for a sports team, meet someone new — that stranger in the hall might just become a friendly face! There are too many great people at Garneau not to meet. And next time you see me in the halls, come say hello! I’d love to get to know you.”