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New VP students Jody Gordon tells it how it is

Jody Gordon is our new vice-president of students. She was hired over the summer, and comes to UFV after a long history of employment at both Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen Polytechnique University. She has a Criminology BA and MA from SFU and joins an administrative team at UFV.

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By Karen Aney (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: September 26, 2012

Jody Gordon is our new vice-president of students. She was hired over the summer, and comes to UFV after a long history of employment at both Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen Polytechnique University. She has a Criminology BA and MA from SFU and joins an administrative team at UFV.

Criminology to administration: that seems like an interesting switch. When you started your criminology degree, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up in Ontario, and my counsellor in high school found me three criminology programs, which is what I was interested in pursuing. One of them happened to be out here at Simon Fraser, so I somehow convinced my family that I was moving to BC.

I’ve certainly fallen in love with the province, and never left. When I grew up, I was going to teach Criminology. That was my goal.

So how did you make the switch to your current role?

I fell into student affairs work as a student peer quite early. During my time [at SFU] I was a resident advisor in my third year and I was also a peer educational advisor helping first year students in arts. That’s where my career began: without realizing it, I became a very engaged student in university … I began getting positions—not just peer positions anymore—I became a part-time manager of advising.

The neat thing for me when I left SFU is that I had the opportunity to combine both what I love—which is teaching Criminology—[with another career path]. For me that really worked.

What message do you think this sends to students struggling with employment options?

Study what you love. What I certainly encourage is be really involved and really engaged; these are things that culminate in learning moments. All of these things culminate in learning moments.

So tell me what your area is here at UFV. What’s a day in the life of Jody Gordon look like?

When I’ve been asked how things are going, I go back to what a colleague of mine told me: it’s going to feel a little bit like your drinking from a fire hose.

I think he got it right, and that’s not a bad thing. I leave work with ideas and thoughts, I’m constantly trying to put it all together … it can be exhausting … I spend a lot of time in meetings but that’s an important part of going and listening to people.

I was in a meeting today with some Student Union Society members. They need to have a voice, and I need to listen. That’s a big part of what I need to do over this next couple of months.

Tell me about some of the issues you think affect UFV students the most. What do you plan to do about them?

[One major issue is] the experience for a number of our students who don’t make it out of first year. That can be [a result of] anything from financial issues to lack of engagement to lack of belongingness, lack of connection, to a program and not having a good understanding of what this is all about … many of which don’t have anything to do with their academic standing.

So being able to keep up with the needs of our growing and vast student body, whether financially, direction around advising, with mental health issues on campus, facility services [etc].

What are your thoughts on AfterMath? They ran a $159,000 budget deficit last year after budgeting zero dollars.

What I will say is that pubs are very much at the heart of some university life. It’s a gathering place not just for students, but faculty and staff . I have heard a little bit about [AfterMath’s] financial challenges. I wasn’t aware it was to that extent they’ve certainly put a business model in this year that they hope will benefit them. They hope they will not be in the negative, but will produce some revenue for the Student Union Society.

It’s certainly a challenge. … I’m interested in ways for them to be involved or engaged in other nights. Hosting a pep rally party, then having people head off to a basketball game is something they’d like to do.

Does that mean you support the return of regular pub nights?

There may be opportunities to see that in that capacity, and I hope I can liaise with them and look into that.

Any other projects that you’d like to tell me about?

Yes! I’m working on what’s called a co-curricular record. This is a record of the extra-curricular activities you’ve done around campus and their learning outcomes: things like The Cascade, being part of a club, volunteering with SUS. So when a student graduates and leaves, they’ll leave with an academic record as well as a co-curricular record. You can present both of those as you see fit to your potential employer down the road.

It’s been something I was pushing for at a previous institution. When I arrived here, with our Student Life folks, it turned out we had some money aside that could be used to purchase the software but there wasn’t anybody giving the official yes.

Several strong universities are already doing this – Wilfred Laurier University, University of Calgary, [among others]. It’s definitely something—especially for a commuter institution—students can feel valued in what they do outside the classroom.

I noticed your Twitter handle is @jodyloveshockey. Are you active on Twitter?

I’d be happy for students to follow me and interact with me there. I do mainly UFV Athletics, and I talk about hockey—which isn’t very much right now—but what I’m looking for is for students to start to see this office in a way that is approachable … it’s an opportunity for  me to hear from them directly. They’re welcome to connect with me on Twitter.

Just for fun, let’s hear your thoughts on the lockout: how long will it last? What are you going to do to fill your time?

Well, given that this is the second lockout under [Gary] Bettman, my guess is that at least half the season is gone. I’m hopeful it’s not like 2004, but it’s frustrating to figure out that all of these people can’t come up with a plan to spread three billion dollars.

I’ve been a Canucks fan since I moved here … maybe a half season will be one we can actually win!

I guess I’ll go to the AHL, and starting a new job I have lots of things I can fill my time with. I have other hobbies, but I miss the social aspect – that’s what I love, when you get together with people to watch the game.

This interview has been edited for length.

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