Dalhousie Gazette: What’s the biggest change you’ve made in your time as president?
Sagar Jha: It’s kind of selfish and clichéd to say this, but the biggest change has definitely been in myself. I know the growth that I’ve gotten to see as an individual has been quite profound. I’ve realized that coming into the job, I had a pretty thick skull and pretty thin skin, while they say that a good politician has thick skin and a thin skull.
In terms of the actual DSU [Dalhousie Student Union], there have been lots of changes. I think the biggest changes coming out of this year will be the process by which we try and make decisions, so a bit of a council reform. It hasn’t been achieved yet, but the wheels are all in motion, which I am very excited about.
DG: Is there anything you wish you’d known when you first started the job?
SJ: The one thing I wish I’d known was all the policy and constitution of the DSU. I came into the position not having been a council member and not having been directly involved in student government. I was really involved in event planning, management and promotion, but not actually in governance. It was a really steep learning curve.
I know that I’m going to make it a point during the transition period to help the executive with this. We’re going to have silent reading period where we read one policy and then ask any questions if they don’t understand it.
DG: What advice would you give to next year’s president?
SJ: More than anything, I would tell Ramz that one of the most important things for him and for all presidents to keep in mind is that when you become a student union executive you are not in a position to pursue your own specific passions, goals, political ideologies. You are now in a position in which you are creating the space for other people to do so. It’s selfless work, it’s thankless work and you don’t do it to see necessarily the change you want to see and the message you want to see, but you do it because you believe in the changes that other people want to make.
DG: What do you plan to do once you are no longer president?
SJ: I plan to run far away! No, I’m kidding. I have a couple of options: I’m applying for a job at student services or recruiting with the university, simply because I love Dal and I love Dal students, and I want to stick around. If that doesn’t all pan out, my backup plan is to go to Memorial University and study Marine Architecture. My degree was in Marine Biology, so it’s always been an interest of mine and there are a lot of opportunities to find a career in that. In the summertime, I’m finally going to relax.
DG: Is there anything else you would like to add?
SJ: Presidents are people too. It’s very easy to be criticized in the public eye, and it takes a certain type of person to be able to handle that. If you see a DSU or university president outside, like at the park walking their dog or at the Grawood having a beverage, remember that they’re a person too. Don’t go approaching Richard Florizone and ask him why tuition is so high. Instead, thank him for the work that he does.