Jakob Gattinger, a third-year mining engineering student, is running to be one of five student senators-at-large in the UBC Vancouver Senate — the university's highest academic governing body. His platform is focused on mental health, a commitment to diversity and tuition consultation concerns.
“I think Senate requires that sort of non-student government lens and I think that I am able to bring that,” said Gattinger of his time as a student ambassador and Jump Start leader.
Gattinger cites his experience consulting on the recent Senate decision to approve a new biomedical engineering undergraduate degree as EUS VP Academic as the project that helped him see a “broader cross-section” of the impact of Senate decisions.
“Having [academic programs] that are just structurally unfriendly to mental health and well-being is what needs to be addressed next,” said Gattinger, referring to the new program which will see students in class with very few breaks for the first 18 months of their degree. “We’ve talked about [mental health and well-being] conceptually, but I think that they really need to be put into practice,” he said.
Gattinger is also hoping to use a position on Senate to change aspects of academics that are “fundamentally unfriendly” to students by working to integrate academic and financial decisions. Given Gattinger’s current bid for a seat on the Board of Governors, a dual role on Senate and the Board could help him bridge the gap between program and tuition approvals, both of which are currently two separate processes.
“If we want quality consultations, having those academic and financial components come together is going to benefit students enormously,” said Gattinger. “You can’t expect students to put their money into a black box and expect to get a program out.”
Noting that the newly created diversity and excellence funds fall under Board control, Gattinger is also hoping to ensure that those funds have the greatest possible impact on academics — for students and faculty alike — in terms of experiential learning and allocating money where it is needed most.
“I think finding areas of common ground for students and faculty is essential to making this particular initiative a success,” said Gattinger. “We have a small diversity fund and I think that there’d be a huge advantage if you’re pushing in both the Board and Senate.”