BY MIKE STROMME
Conestoga, meet the newest member of Conestoga Students Inc., Justin McLaughlin.
On Nov. 19, CSI selected the first-year business administration student to serve on their board of directors for the next five months. McLaughlin was one of 12 Conestoga students vying for the position.
“I am actually amazed that I am able to be in this position in my first year at this college and to be in a position to make a positive difference,” said McLaughlin immediately after winning the 2015 CSI board of directors byelection.
Candidates brought a variety of platforms to the byelection. Suggestions to improve public transportation costs, pub days and other social events, parking costs, student communications, seating around campus and even washroom cleanliness were all issues raised by prospective board members.
“There were a lot of good candidates this year,” said CSI president Jeff Scherer.
McLaughlin’s platform focused on improving communication between CSI and Conestoga students through media. Some of the ideas he plans to raise in board meetings are: replacing the traditional posters that promote CSI-related events with televisions that promote CSI events with video, improving the CSI smartphone app by sending out notifications with increased regularity, student surveys that can be accessed through the app, and to engage students on a regular basis through face-to-face interaction.
“Many students (don’t) know what CSI (is),” McLaughlin said during his pitch to the CSI selection committee. “A lot of students (don’t) know what (is) offered around campus.”
McLaughlin was the final candidate to make his pitch to the board. Due to a prior commitment, he was unable to make it in person. He was prepared to drop out of the race entirely. Instead of having his entire campaign be for not, Scherer allowed McLaughlin to make his case to become a member of the board using gotomeeting.ca, an online video conferencing service.
His face was projected onto a screen in the Sanctuary on the same stage his adversaries advocated their worthiness. His virtual presence made his pitch that much more difficult.
“I could barely see anybody,” said McLaughlin. “I couldn’t see the reactions to anything I was saying.”
The selection meeting was open to all Conestoga students. However, the number of students in attendance peaked at three.
This might be McLaughlin’s first year at Conestoga, but it isn’t his first post-secondary experience.
He previously attended the FlightSafety Academy in Vero Beach, Fla. out of high school. After graduation, he was hired as a pilot for Air Canada. He flew routes all over Ontario, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania before deciding that lifestyle wasn’t for him.
“I was home maybe 10 days a month,” McLaughlin said during his speech to the board. “It just wasn’t for me.”
The position that McLaughlin and all the other candidates campaigned for is an interim position. In April, there will be an election to decide new board of directors for the 2016-2017 school year.