Breakfast with the President

On October 25th, 2019, President Santa Ono invited 28 members of the UBC student body to breakfast at his residence in Norman Mackenzie House. This was a rare opportunity for students to interact with Professor Santa Ono and their peers. The breakfast was informal in nature and provided an opportunity for students to meet Professor Ono and to discuss ideas and experiences at UBC.

Three of KIN’s students were invited to attend: Christy Wee, Kathryn Lehmann and Grant Phillips-Hing.

Grant Phillips-Hing and Christy Wee gave us an inside scoop on their experiences at breakfast with Santa. “It was a fantastic event! Everyone arrived before the appointed breakfast hour of 7:30am to gather in the main area to meet each other and socialize. Fun fact: this area was the same room that was used for the Fifth Economic Leaders Meeting in 1997. We had the opportunity to chat with other student leaders around UBC and talk about what they’ve been up to!”relays Grant.

Santa came in to the room at 7:30am sharp and they sat down to breakfast around a very large table that was set in the middle of the room. The president started out by explaining that he hosts these events to hear from student leaders to receive insight on their experiences and to have one-on-one conversations with them.

“People brought up a number of really interesting, thoughtful topics of conversation, including discussions about gender equity, minority group representation and opportunities, Indigenous rights, and how the school addresses sexual misconduct. It meant a lot that the President paid close attention to each person as they spoke, and responded to each issue individually. He often responded with concrete plans to take action, or invited the student to follow-up with him via email. It was so amazing to hear about the fantastic and diverse student-led initiatives that exist on our campus,” Christy declared excitedly.

Grant took his turn to advocate for more counsellors in residences. “I’ve been in Totem Park for three years, and in my first year the counsellor in residence program didn’t exist. It was implemented half way through my second year and was fully integrated by my third year. I’ve seen the incredibly powerful impact it has had on the community in terms of utilizing the service and normalizing counselling. There are currently only 2 counsellors in residence (Totem Park and Marine Drive) and I advocated for one in every residence hall. I also asserted that there is a need for more diverse professors to engage with students in residence. We currently have a fantastic professor in residence, Michael Griffin, but he specializes primarily in philosophy. I stated that although it’s a fantastic program, it would be great to be able to see more faculties (especially KIN) represented in residences to help normalize the prof-student interactions in first year students.”