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2017/2018 Co-op Affairs Commissioner Intro Blog

May 18th, 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Hannah Beckett and I am the new Co-op Affairs Commissioner for 2017-2018. I’m a 4B Political Science/Digital Arts Communications student and a part of co-op. I have completed co-ops in Mississauga, Calgary, Los Angeles and am currently on my last co-op this term in downtown Toronto.

Hannah Beckett, Co-op Affairs Commissioner 2017/2018.

My background with student affairs varies from co-founding the Feds Volunteer Centre in 2015 to my current role as the Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Senator and a recent addition to the University Board of Governors. I started with Feds in 1A with the intentions of building up my extracurricular record for my law school application by working on municipal affairs and student housing issues. My focus on heading to law school may have waned but my interest in student politics didn’t. Now I’m excited to jump in as the Co-op Affairs Commissioner for the upcoming year!

The Co-op Affairs Commissioner is a new position within the VP Education portfolio. Co-op at the University of Waterloo is a hotly contested topic and a pillar of the university as an institution. With Co-op 2.0 on the go, co-op is in transition and the student voice needs to be present so that we can create a more transparent and open dialogue around the student experience. I have been working with CECA over the last two years in an informal capacity after presenting to the organization in 2015 on the “Student Perspectives on Co-op and Opportunities for the Future." From being an active student on campus, I took note of a lot of concerns that were raised and I had a great opportunity to bring those forward during that presentation. Since then, I have been working to further champion issues students are facing so that we can maintain our position as the world’s best co-op program and so that students feel like they’re getting value out of both their time and financial contribution. Yes, some of that feedback was collected using Reddit, but sometimes /r/uwaterloo is super handy.

Student voices around co-op have been much more vocal recently and understandably so. In the past, co-op has acted as a separate entity which has created some confusion and misunderstanding within the student body. The main objective this year will be a deep dive into the co-op fee which was recently increased to surpass the $700 threshold. That makes it incredibly timely that we find out how that fee is spent and what kind of value students are seeing out of those dollars. CECA has been an incredibly open and excited participant in the discussions around this topic and I’m looking forward to a productive dialogue with them over the summer as we lay the groundwork for the rest of the year.

In addition to the fee review, I have several objectives I am hoping to prioritize over the next year. One of my major focuses is creating an effective student engagement mechanism to facilitate dialogue between the student body and CECA to try and mitigate challenges before they arise. Other areas I’d like to look at are the following:

  • Workplace resources module that includes all work-related details students may require, like sexual harassment policy and workplace safety, as an extension of material covered in PD
  • Additional resources for students completing co-ops abroad, like tax resources
  • Focus Programs and the policy surrounding an employer recruitment strategy for certain programs
  • Internal policy review of CECA and the subsequent impact on students
  • WaterlooWorks and the future iterations of the platform
  • EDGE Program
  • Flexible Work Terms
  • Rate My Work Term and the rollout of that initiative in WaterlooWorks
  • …and more!

My action plan for the term is currently in the works as we identify areas that we feel are most significant for students. I would encourage students who have concerns or have experienced issues to approach me so we can try and bring as many things to the table over the next year. Due to the nature of this role being new, we have the flexibility to tackle a broad range of projects and I’m looking to engage as much student feedback as I can along the way. I’m looking forward to continuing my work with CECA with the efforts of Feds along the way and I encourage anyone and everyone to reach out with any feedback regarding co-op.

Written by Hannah Beckett, 2017/2018 Co-op Affairs Commissioner.