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Campus Celebrity: Mike Young

We sat down with one of the candidates running for the position of Rector this week to find out a little more about who he is and what his ideas for the position are. Mike Young, 20, spent his childhood growing up in the suburbs of Ottawa and ended up following in the tradition of his father and brother who both went to Queen’s (he tells us that he fell in love with the school when he visited his brother, a ConEd ’12). Although Mike started out as an English major, he explains that he became interested in gender studies because of issues of gender and sexual diversity cropping up all around him, falling in love with the program after he took a course in it. He also adds that he really enjoys making music (fun fact: he actually performed at an open mic night at CoGro when he was in Grade 12) and drinking chocolate milk!

When asked why he decided to run for the position of the Rector, Mike begins talking about orientation week, an area that he is clearly passionate about. “I fell in love with Frosh Week; as a frosh, I really enjoyed it, and then when I was an orientation leader and even more when I was the head of ConEd’s Orientation. I always thought that I would end up doing something else in Orientation Week because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to let it go, but I then thought about all the things that I want to accomplish and a lot of the things I want to accomplish are in relation to mental health and equity issues on campus. […] Part of my platform involves keeping orientation week student-run and working with the orientation round table on training and maybe getting some more mental health and equity training with orientation week leaders. So it was kind of the perfect fit in a lot of ways based on connections with people, building relationships and that’s what I really like to do. It was a huge draw for me because you’re a resource and a support for students.”

When we asked about what Mike would focus on first in his platform if he got elected he replies, “I’ve tried not to get too ahead of myself.” Despite his humble nature, he shares with us a few key points on what he would hope to focus on first.

“I think a lot of things on the platform is stance based and advocacy based and that part of it won’t really start till next September. I want to start right away with mental health, specifically with faculty-specific counsellors. One of the big things for next year that I wish to start right away is the long weekend in the fall semester. I’d really like to establish one hopefully in the middle of the semester; we can’t really have a reading week in the fall semester without infringing on frosh week or messing up exams.”

On looking back at first year and something he’d like to change: the course evaluation surveys that ask students to list their gender. “My gender studies brain doesn’t love the fact that you have to check off whether you’re male or female and I’ve talked to some people about it, but it hasn’t really been changed.”

When asked about the accessibility of the Rector’s office, he admits that the Rector’s job can often be the most mysterious. He offers up several ideas, such as a bi-weekly blog on social media that will lead students to the Rector’s website and setting up a table in the lower floor of the JDUC to simply talk to students. He admits that representing the voice of 21,000 students will be a challenge, but engaging with students will be one way to combat that.

On NAD: “the administration says one thing and the students say another, so I’d like to try and understand both sides and make sure that the rights of students are protected  and our rights to be student-run are protected.” He says that the issue of whether it should be student-run is a “no-brainer” but acknowledges that “in some ways it is a flawed system now and students need to take ownership of it and make it better so that the student body has the best discipline system possible.”  

When asked about the current rector, Nick Francis, he has nothing but good things to say, citing his experience interacting with him on the TriColour Awards Committee in first year. “I don’t think I’d be running if Nick hadn’t been Rector and he’s been a really cool role model for me. The Rector has a capacity to really inspire students […] just because people don’t understand the work you do or how much work you do doesn’t mean the students you do encounter can’t be changed by the work you accomplish and that’s kind of the mandate I’d like to take in as well.”

On where he sees himself 20 years from now: “Well here’s the dream, I would have my own classroom, Grade 4-Grade 5, with a rocking chair, reading to students and there’s a guitar behind the desk. Unless something changes, that’s where I’ll be after school. Hopefully, in twenty years I will have a job!”

Voting for both the AMS Executive Elections and the Rector Elections are on the 28th and 29th through your Queen’s Email!

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Hana Hasin

Queen's U

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