By Arman Izadi
Tre Mansdoerfer is a U3 (third year) Electrical Engineering student hailing from Flemington, New Jersey. He is the current EUS Senator and sits on many councils and committees such as the SSMU Legislative council and the EUS Board of Governors. The Ledger sat down with Tre in Trottier 5105 to talk about his involvement, his goals for the future and advice he might have for future students. This will be the first of many interviews with members of the EUS community to give you an idea of our involved student body.
Ledger: So, your name is Tre Mansdoerfer…
Tre: Well actually, my name is Richard. I’m Richard III, my father is Richard II, if I have a son, he’ll be Richard IV, and he’ll go by Quad. This isn’t a joke, this is very serious.
L: (Laughing) Great, now what motivated you to get involved with the EUS, and how did you first get involved?
T: I was on IRC [Inter-Rez Council] first year and part of my hall council. I didn’t join EUS Junior Council, but I was motivated by Omar El-Sharawy (The SSMU VP Internal) at the time to run for EUS SSMU Rep. It seemed like the obvious next step. I also ran the Humans of McGill Residences page in first year, coordinating with 15 photographers.
L: Did you have a plan going into your first involvement? Did you know what you wanted to do?
T: I’ve actually had a plan since October of first year. I wrote it down and I’ve been pretty on point with the plan. Some things — like McMun — were not necessarily in the plan, but the general idea was there.
L: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced as Senator of the EUS?
[T]ime management is first and foremost the biggest struggle of any position held.
T: I think the answer to that for any position is always time management. I allocate most of my time to the SSMU Legislative Council seat and have sway on that council. Fall Reading Week has also been an uphill battle that I’ve allocated time to. With Ollivier Dyens [Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning] leaving, I think we can re-spark that conversation. In total, time management is first and foremost the biggest struggle of any position held.
L: Let’s talk about the type of involvement you’ve had. You’re involved with SSMU a lot which is something we don’t often see in engineering. Did you always want to go down that route?
T: I really value interacting with different types of people. I love interacting with engineers, and E-Week Coord was really the first time I interacted with solely engineering people, but all my other roles are interacting with a lot of different people. The main motivation of joining SSMU is that I see a lot of value collaborating with people from different backgrounds and ideas.
L: What are your short and long term goals in terms of involvement?
The main goal right now is running for SSMU [President]. It’s part of the original plan and I think this is the best year to run for it.
T: The main goal right now is running for SSMU [President]. It’s part of the original plan and I think this is the best year to run for it. In your third year you know a lot of people in your year and years above and below, whereas running in fourth year is really limiting, I think. One short term goal is putting a lot more time back into the Senator role and continuing projects such as my work with the ad-hoc committee for provincial representation. Just the continuation of the narrative that I’ve started so that hopefully it persists.
SSMU Presidency is probably the biggest long/short term goal for now. It’s the position that aligns the most with what I want to do and the changes I want to see.
L: On that note what are the big changes you want to see, specifically in the EUS and then in SSMU?
T: Once again, my involvement in solely EUS is relatively minimal compared to other people, since as a Senator I sit on all of these Senate committees and the Legislative council, etc. However, I think the conversation about how we view drinking culture has a lot of value. The approach could’ve been a bit better, but I still think it’s important for us to constantly re-evaluate if we’re okay with these big drinking events we run and how we run them. In addition, I think the Board of Governors of the EUS could be better, but a lot of that improvement will come with time, since it’s only the first year the BoG has been formed.
I still think it’s important for us to constantly re-evaluate if we’re okay with these big drinking events we run and how we run them. In addition, I think the Board of Governors of the EUS could be better, but a lot of that improvement will come with time
SSMU Board of Directors structure is just…wrong. Selcom is a good idea since, if it’s an election like the executive positions, you’d see uncontested or empty electoral slots for executive positions and more people inclined to run for the board. The problem right now, however, is that the people who pass the selcom are voted on as a group on the board and I think you [should] split that vote. So that way, the general population has the chance to ratify each member individually and not as a group, which can help decrease nepotism and skewed results that’s been seen in SSMU a lot.
[T]he [SSMU] GA also does not represent the total student body but rather the opinionated few. When you walk into the room you can see the clear divide and you know because it’s the same faces every time.
Also, the GA also does not represent the total student body but rather the opinionated few. When you walk into the room you can see the clear divide and you know because it’s the same faces every time. If there was a way to get people engaged who can’t physically be there, maybe through online resources, that could help. We increased the quorum due to this structural issue, which is not a long term solution in the slightest. It’s more of a patchwork solution that needs to be resolved.
In terms of executive workload, the SSMU execs have 60-70 hour work weeks and it’s hard to produce something tangible for society when you’re simply overburdened. I’m not saying I’ll run for president and walk in and suddenly has 30 hour work weeks but we can actually look at what we’re committing our time to and re-evaluate and make cuts. Right now, you pass an external mandate and say the VP External is now mandated to do x, y, z (for example support Divest McGill hypothetically) there is no review cycle for that mandate unless its brought up. Things like that should, because, as an example, external mandates should be reviewed as the student body and it’s views change over time.
L: In the past EUS and SSMU have not had good relations because of the stereotype surrounding the classic “engineer”. This is a nationwide problem with many engineering student societies across the country having strained relations with their student union. My question is, did you ever feel that animosity in our culture, and going forward do you think it could be improved?
If there’s one faculty association that SSMU can benefit from the most, it’s the EUS since we’re the most successful on campus.
T: When I first entered as a SSMU rep, the animosity and reputation was definitely there. The idea was that “oh the engineers are here to create conflict and be contentious for the sake of it,” and I think on some certain level me and Tristan [Co-SSMU Representative at the time] were viewed as such, but that was only because we were the only ones on that council that voiced our opinions, actually tried to represent our constituents, tried not conform to the council and make things just run smoothly. The reputation basically does exist, and can change, if the EUS agrees to open relations with SSMU and collaborates. I don’t think this should happen now, but rather when SSMU actually makes changes. It’s not justified when most [students] agree that SSMU’s been struggling. If there’s one faculty association that SSMU can benefit from the most, it’s the EUS since we’re the most successful on campus.
L: What is your best McGill memory so far?
T: I think it’s when I ran my first successful party and that feeling of pride at seeing the result and what you can do. It was hard for me to assume leadership roles in high school and for me to come here and just lead off with that was really cool. Le Cinq was the first party during my time on IRC in first year.
L: Tell us about a project you’re working on right now.
[McMun is] the least engineering thing I could be a part of, but honestly the culture is amazing. I never would’ve met a lot of these amazing people and future politicians that will eventually make big changes after McGill
T: So McMun is the big thing I’ve been working on right now. I manage $40,000 worth of contracts. I am the hotel liaison where I have a 164 page document outlining every room assignment, requirement, timing, etc for the whole event. It’s a 4-5 day conference that’s pretty cool. It’s the least engineering thing I could be a part of, but honestly the culture is amazing. I never would’ve met a lot of these amazing people and future politicians that will eventually make big changes after McGill, had I not gotten involved with this.
L: What is your biggest recommendation for people who want to get involved in any of these different avenues that you’ve chosen?
T: You just have to apply to everything and drop that sense of fear. For a lot of us it’s hard to run for an elected position or a selcom because of that fear of failure and the challenging idea of it. Nobody wants to fail or feel rejected and lose an election, but you just need to overcome that fear and keep applying. I failed a lot but eventually I succeeded.
Nobody wants to fail or feel rejected and lose an election, but you just need to overcome that fear and keep applying. I failed a lot but eventually I succeeded.
L: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Do you have any parting words for the students?
T: Gucci gang is a great song, I hope both teams lose the Super Bowl, and follow me on Instagram at tre.mansdoerfer.