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Seneca Velling (for Vice President Operations & Finance)

Hi everyone, my name is Seneca Velling and I am your Team Ignite VP Operations & Finance Candidate for the 2019 Feds elections! I joined UW in 2014 as an international student from New Jersey to study Materials & Nanosciences (MNS). My floormates in Rez, friends from O-week, and classmates quickly became my family up here in Waterloo. My friend Tyler Marques got me involved in student government in my 1B term when he served on SciSoc.

My program is a pretty small one and we lacked resources and support structures to really excel. My friends and I co-founded the Waterloo Materials & Nanosciences Society to support MNS students on their journey through undergrad. I served as the Treasurer and President of MNS Society over my second year at Waterloo and helped establish a tradition of lab events to give students nano experiences before their first co-op terms (making and stabilizing liquid crystals, playing with ferrofluids, and re-crystallizing bismuth). MNS Society joinned SciSoc that year and I became the representative on Science Society, eventually serving as SciSoc’s Speaker of the Board. In this role I oversaw and supported the society’s executive and represented students in the Faculty of Science.

In my 3A term, after concerns with the Federation of Students, I ran for the Science Council elections and joined the Students’ Council. Here I served on numerous committees working to improve conditions for co-op students, lobby for changes to University sexual violence and response policy, and explore Fall Reading Week. I also worked to make the Science Caucus of Feds more accountable to Science Society, and started the valuable practice of Councillors attending Society meetings, which was quickly adopted by other faculties (including at the time Engineering, Arts, and Math). On Council I had the distinct pleasure of serving on the President’s Advisory Committee for Student Mental Health’s (PAC-SMH) student services advisory panel. My recommendations for improving communication surrounding mental health resources and support services, consolidation of multiple underfunded and redundant efforts, and working more closely with Societies to promote available supports made it into the final panel report.

After a 9 month co-op stint in southern California at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (and all the pains of calling into inaccessible Feds meetings from multiple time-zones and 3960 km away), I re-ran for Council to continue to serve students. This year I have continued to advocate for international student concerns and mental health funding, though this year I have also prioritized accessibility and transparency in Feds. I led the effort to modernize the Feds’ Committees and Board of Directors process with online application. This year I also spent considerable energy supporting legal protections for students suffering predatory tenancy corporations, workplace discrimination and contract violation, and academic policy support. I advocated for a legal service referendum and with the help of my teammate Tomson Tran, we succeeded in calling a referendum for legal protection service for students for ≈$9.00 dollars per term! I have also pushed to integrate Societies more into the decision making of the Federation of Students. This past year I’ve also served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Feds, and constantly been a voice for transparency and financial sustainability, while protecting Feds services and advancing advocacy objectives.

I hope to continue to serve you and jointly lead Feds over the next year with my Team.