When Jeff Scherer ran for CSI president, the competition was stiff. Also running were the incumbent president, some members of the current board of directors, and a host of strong student candidates.
But the third-year business administration – marketing student is no stranger to tough challengers. After all, he played minor hockey against elite Canadian hockey stars John Tavares and Steven Stamkos.
“He was the one guy on the ice that everyone hated. He was just that good,” Scherer said of Tavares.
And though hockey did not become a full-time career, Scherer’s shot at the presidency put him firmly in the “win” column after he was selected by the committee on Feb. 8.
Scherer is an Oshawa native who decided to attend Wilfrid Laurier University for his post-secondary education. That didn’t completely work out, with Scherer deciding that university wasn’t for him.
“I just wasn’t effectively learning what I wanted to learn from university, so I decided that switching to college would get me a better experience and a better learning style.”
But there was one way that his time spent at Laurier left a mark on him. The school’s ability to create and harness school spirit was something that he envied.
Scherer made this part of his platform which resulted in his election as CSI president for the 2014-2015 academic year.
“The entire feel around Laurier university, the school spirit, is amazing. And it’s something that I think I can take from that experience and bring to Conestoga.”
School spirit is great, of course. But I wanted to know how Scherer would be able to gauge his success in that arena at the end of his presidency. What is he looking for to determine whether school spirit is alive and well in Conestoga’s halls?
“The feeling I want to get from students is that Conestoga isn’t somewhere that you just come to school. Where you have your post-secondary education should be something that is almost a second home to you. And that feeling of community will probably be the one thing I evaluate my success on,” Scherer said.
“I do know what I’m looking for. It’s one of those things that’s almost impossible to put into words until you see it. And when you see it, it’s going to be that moment of, ‘hurrah.’ I just don’t know what other way to word it.”
In the question and answer portion of the selection process, Scherer was asked what he would choose if he was allowed to accomplish only one goal as president. His answer: he wanted to straighten out the school’s colours to help build school spirit. This was a risky response with the potential to backfire: it could be easy to view this as a frivolous change.
But Scherer explained that it was important to what he wanted to do as president, and that many students aren’t even sure what our school colours are.
“The one thing I would change in the year would have to be unifying our school colours. I know it’s not a huge thing … it’s something that can help build our school, and how people feel around our school and the stuff they can bring home with them, as well,” Scherer said in response to the committee’s question.
When I asked what his preferred colour scheme for Conestoga would be, Scherer deferred to students, saying that their input would be valuable.
“At the end of the day, you want those students to have a say in what colours they’re bringing home,” Scherer added.
Scherer should get some chances to improve school spirit, with the upcoming renovation of the rec centre, one of the largest projects in CSI’s history. There was some talk at the December meeting of the board of directors of the creation of a CSI-run student athletic committee, whose job it would be to drum up interest in athletic events.
Scherer has been heavily involved in academic life for some time. He has acted as a residence adviser and a community adviser for Conestoga College’s Doon residence. He said these experiences are definitely something he’ll be drawing on as president.
“You stick 500 students into a small building, and conflicts are going to arise … you can imagine the stuff that the residence staff goes through on a day-to-day basis. I’ve been pretty lucky in the past three years to be able to work with some amazing individuals,” Scherer said.
He credits his involvement with residence as one of the factors that allowed him to develop into an effective student leader.
“Since I’ve started at Conestoga, I’ve worked with over 1,500 students, and I think I’ve made an impact on all those students. I’d like the ability to continue making an impact on an even bigger level than that,” he said during the question section of the selection process.
Scherer also credits the CSI leadership conference for some of his success as a student leader.
“I already saw myself as a student leader within our community at that point, but I think that extra push and motivation that you get from that conference kind of makes you realize how much of a leader you actually are.”
Scherer is now the president-elect, but the board of directors that he will serve has yet to be elected. Unlike the presidential selection process, the board is elected by the student population at large and has voting power during board meetings.
I asked Scherer what he thought, at this point, his message would be to the eight future members of this still-undetermined board.
“We’re all in it together. We’re all going to be there to support each other. We’re going to need to be,” Scherer said.