Interview with MSA Member Rep Christine Valentine

1. Describe your role as a Member Representative.
As a Member Representative for the MSA, my role is to be a resource for the staff of MacEwan University. This means knowing where to look or where to go to find information––it doesn’t necessarily mean that Member Representatives need to know everything about the Collective Agreement (I sure don’t!). I would say a large part of my role is just to be here in case anyone ever wants to chat about any issue they may be experiencing (good or bad) and to build relationships with other staff members of the University.

 2. Initially, why did you decide to run for election?
I decided to run for election three years ago. At the time, I was working in the Centre for Arts and Communications Campus in the west end. Since many staff members from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications worked there and we were fairly segregated from the rest of the university, I felt it was important to have a point person for our staff members to talk to if they had questions or concerns, and to help out with MSA donation drives and elections. Now I’m in the first year of my second term on the MSA Board, and my faculty has made the move to Allard Hall. I feel like moving here has really expanded my role as Member Representative because I now have the opportunity to get to know staff from across City Centre Campus.

 3. What do you see as the value of a Member Representative?
Member Representatives are full-voting members on the MSA Board, and so they are a direct connection between the membership and the strategic, decision-making body that determines future directions of the Association. The feedback that Member Representatives can provide to the MSA Board is incredibly valuable because it reflects real issues that staff deal with. Member Reps are staff too, so we can relate to other staff members in a very real and approachable way. We also receive some specialized training that teaches the importance of building interest-based relationships and the pillars of positive labour relations, which not only provided me with important tools for my role as Member Rep, but gave me important knowledge and skills that are applicable to my job as well.

4. Why would you encourage someone to run for Member Representative?
We need an MSA Board that is as inclusive and diverse as our members. I would encourage you (yes, you, the person reading this), to run for Member Representative because frankly, we need you. We need your new ideas and perspectives. We need to learn from you what issues you face, what things are the most important to you, and to actively help us shape the future of the MSA. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know a thing about the MSA (I didn’t), or if the only thing that you do know about us is that we throw an awesome pancake breakfast every year (we do!)––what’s most important is your willingness to listen and be an advocate for others.

 5. What do you feel is your most important responsibility?
Honestly and fairly representing an up-and-coming generation of staff on the MSA. As a MacEwan “millennial”, I feel like it’s my responsibility to advocate for new formats and methods of doing things that will help make the MSA appealing to our younger workforce, while still being respectful and inclusive of staff who have worked here for decades and to listen and learn from their experiences.

 6. What do you enjoy most about your role?
The thing I think I enjoy the most is getting to know the staff members from across the University. I feel good when I’m able to help others, whether it’s sitting down to listen to an issue someone is going through or providing advice or information. I also enjoy working with the MSA office staff. They are incredibly knowledgeable, helpful, and probably some of the kindest and helpful people you’ll ever meet. Being a part of the MSA in a more active way as Member Representative has been a great learning experience for me and it’s given me the opportunity to get to know some amazing people that I may not have met otherwise.