A day in the life of a USC president

Breaking down what the coveted spot entails

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

With the election for president of the University Students’ Council fast approaching, The Gazette took the opportunity to spend a day shadowing current USC President Stephen Lecce to determine exactly what his job entails.

According to Lecce, he typically arrives at work before 8:30 a.m. and rarely leaves before 8 or 9 p.m.

“Endurance is important in this role. No president should expect a nine to five job because events, programs, activities and meetings happen around the clock,” he said.

As classes started at 9:30 a.m., Lecce visited some classrooms in the Social Science Centre to briefly speak on behalf of the Yes Campaign for the upcoming University Community Centre renovation referendum.

“A lot of [the job] is communication based,” he explained, and not surprisingly, he spent almost every spare minute in his office simultaneously answering e-mails and checking his voicemail.

Following the classroom visits, Lecce headed off to a board meeting.

The USC president is the chair of the Board of Directors and as such it is important to be able to both encourage debate and communicate needs of students, Lecce explained.

The president also checks in regularly with the USC general counsel and general manager, meets weekly with its policy analyst and is responsible for maintaining a positive relationship between the executive branch of the USC and management.

Lecce stressed the importance of negotiations as a part of his responsibilities. “[A president] needs to effectively advocate for student issues. They must provide a strong voice for students.

“[Being USC president] is one year of being in the public immensely,” Lecce added.

He shared a story from last November when he was in a movie theatre and mid-movie he heard the person next to him whispering his name. He introduced himself and they started chatting amidst the disapproval of their fellow movie-goers.

Following an interview with 94.9 CHRW regarding the UCC referendum, Lecce attended a Black History Month ceremony led by the Black Students’ Association.

“I am always learning in this role; not only about the USC and about students, but also about myself. This job necessitates quick learning,” he said.

Lecce spent the afternoon reading and editing minutes of the council, Board and USC senior management, attending meetings and finally speaking to Western’s Engineers Without Borders chapter.

“Something I enjoy most [about my job] is getting invited to speak to clubs and groups,” he said.

Acknowledging the strong budgetary concerns facing the USC after years of surpluses, Lecce suggested the current and future USC leader might have to make some adjustments.

“We must find creative ways to execute the same programs without using a lot of money from students. It is always important that we maintain as balanced a budget as we can. The decisions we make with money must always be in the best interests of students.”

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