Candidate Profile

Catherine Philipps candidate profile

By Catherine Philipps March 17, 2024

The Poly sent out a questionnaire to every candidate running for Grand Marshal, President of the Union, and Undergraduate President. Below are the unedited responses from PU candidate Catherine Philipps ’24, ’25G.

Why do you want to be President of the Union?

I want to be President of the Union as I want to help clubs. I want to help them to form, function, and get the resources they need to successfully execute their purpose. I can best do this as the President of the Union as they are the presiding officer of the Executive Board who oversees the financial and operational activities of the Union and its facilities. Having been able to watch clubs form, develop, and continue to grow has been inspiring and is why I joined the Executive Board in the first place. I hope to continue being able to help them start, and grow. The Executive Board also has been very welcoming over the past 4 years and feels like home and I hope to continue that bond between members.

What qualifies you to be President of the Union?

I have been on the Executive Board for 4 years. I joined Fall 2020 as a Voting Representative. I have held voting positions of different titles which hold the same function such as Member-at-Large Representative, Club & Organization Representative, and Class of 2024 Representative. I have also been the Vice President of Club Relations where I ran the activity fair and managed the Representatives on the Board Fall 2022. I was the Club Operations Chairperson for Fall 2023 where I ran the Club Operations Committee which is a subcommittee of the Executive Board that helps new clubs to form, recognized clubs to get funding, and helps to update any club documentation. I was a member of the Club Operations Committee since my freshman year in Fall 2020. I am currently the President of the Union for Spring 2024 as my predecessor, Ava Gallagher, graduated in Fall 2023 so I came into office through succession procedures. As I have been the PU for this semester, I have the experience to fulfill the role. I have served on the Executive Board for longer than all other active members and can provide history and background for many clubs and precedents set in years past.

Name three short-term goals (within your term of office) and three long-term goals (beyond your term of office) that you have for the Executive Board.

Short term:

  1. Ensuring clubs are well represented. I will appoint a board that will represent their clubs well and help the clubs with any motions they may need help with. There will be clubs seeking more subsidies, new programming, and possibly special room requests. Executive Board representatives reach out periodically to their clubs and help advise them. They go through the budgeting process with their assigned clubs and are the ones who are present in the budgeting rooms. There has been an increase in clubs since COVID so ensuring that each of them has a voice is important.
  2. Proper training for board members. In years past, the board has done a good job at training new and existing members in their duties, but can be lacking in some areas so determining what will be important to emphasize and ensuring the members know their duties. If the training is not executed properly, it will lead to issues down the line so ensuring the board is ready to represent the clubs and the Union.
  3. Enhancing communication between Student Government branches and with the community. Ensuring that there are liaisons between the branches, that we know who’s doing what, and that we can help each other with initiatives if deemed appropriate. And communicating those initiatives and what we do and are doing to the public is also important.

Long Term:

  1. Expanding campus spaces. There are a few project ideas to expand areas where students can enjoy leisure time that I seek to help progress along for future years to enjoy. One of which is a pavilion that will be able to be used by the campus.
  2. Similar to the short-term of starting better communication, maintaining it. There is now a weekly calendar sent out by the Union marketing team that helps the Union community to know what events are happening weekly, so see if there’s a way that’s maintainable to do so with the students that will be utilized.
  3. Build Up Union Admin Staffing. We currently have multiple SARPs who are either retiring or taking a job elsewhere. As such, the Union Admin office will be understaffed, so seeing to the hiring of new SARPs will help to prolong the knowledge of clubs to be passed down further than the typical 4 years of students. The Executive Board is not the only ones who have a say in the matter, but we do interview multiple candidates and have the power to reject those who apply. So ensuring quality SARPs are hired is a goal so that after my time here, there are SARPs to help both clubs and Executive Board Representatives.

In your own words, what do you feel are the roles of the President of the Union and the Union Executive Board? Do you think the current Executive Board is fulfilling that role? If any, what changes could be made?

The President of the Union is the chief financial and operational leader of the Student Union. They oversee and chair the Executive Board who see motions pertaining to club operations, club formations, club finances, facilities, and programming and activities. The Executive Boards help clubs to budget each year so they can maintain their activities and purpose. I believe the current Executive Board is fulfilling that role. An improved Club Management System can make communications with clubs and the budgeting process easier, but that is still in the making and not ready yet.

What do you think are the incumbent President of the Union’s strengths and weaknesses? What would you do to improve upon them if you were elected?

As the incumbent, my strengths are that I am very organized, I am open to criticism, I value the thoughts and ideas of my board as well as any visitors at the meetings, I always put forth my best effort, and I am timely with my emails. A weakness would be the short-term length and the fact I became the PU through succession rather than an election. I have not been in charge of a budgeting cycle so that aspect will still be new to me if I win, however, I have been to 4 different budgeting cycles so I know how it functions.

What does the club-Executive Board representative relationship look like? What should it look like?

The club-Executive board relationship is that each funded club has a Club Representative. Any club not funded, but recognized or affiliated has the Club Operations Committee. The Representative should reach out on a regular basis to the club to check in and ensure that the club is taken care of. If the club has any concerns, questions, or motions to bring forth then the E-board Representative helps them to do so. I believe this is what it should look like as then each club can be represented. If the Representative does not reach out, then they can contact the PU or VPCR for help and then they can aid the club and see why the Representative has not responded.

How would you evaluate the current Union budget situation? What do you foresee as future budget concerns?

Due to COVID, the budget has been strained every year I’ve been here. The revenue is not as high as pre-COVID so the amount we can spend is limited. We have had to keep budgets relatively flat with little increase for the past four years and will need to do so for the foreseeable future. Ben and Jerry’s did not pay their rent throughout the entirety of COVID. As we could not afford to keep them there rent-free, they left the union. Panera also gives the Union no money despite being in the prime location for sales. Unless revenues increase, the club budgets will be unable to for most likely a few more years at least. This is also the reason the Union is no longer 24/7. I would love for it to be, but the budget just wouldn’t allow it. We even considered opening up partially longer, but then that would mean halting funding to another program that would need it as any extra length of time was too costly.

How do you intend to encourage students to fully utilize the resources of the Union?

Advertisement and postering. As the Club Operations Chair, we made a recruitment poster and while we only got one person interested in that, more people probably read it. So spreading awareness of the resources through postering, word of mouth, and having the representatives tell their clubs.

How do you plan to engage with the president of the Institute and the rest of the Institute Administration?

There is a monthly student leaders meeting that I have been attending where I can bring up any issues I’ve noticed or been informed of on campus to Dr. Schmidt and he hears us out. There are no guarantees, but he and the other admins who attend listen.

What qualities should a leader have? How are you a leader?

A leader should be able to make decisions, listen to the opinions of others, and guide their organization or group towards the best direction. I always consider the thoughts, concerns, and voices of others and use them when making any decision. Using the knowledge I have, I make the best judgement I can at the time. I believe I can guide my organization in the best direction as I have the experience, knowledge, and genuinely care about clubs and the Union.