In the next couple of months, The Baron will publish a series highlighting this year’s SRC Executives, starting with the SRC President, Devin Debly.
The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) is the annually elected student union representing about 2000 students between Dalhousie Medicine and UNB Saint John in advocacy, services and governance for our campus.
Debly is a fourth-year business student born and raised in Saint John. While he claims to be a “boring guy” outside of school, his position within UNB is anything but boring.
Between his busy schedule of meetings, phone calls, and class time, The Baron was able to sit down with Debly and get to know a little bit more about him and his position within the SRC. Below are his answers to some of the questions we asked him.
What are your responsibilities?
“I would like to think of myself as, like, a futurist, but realistically, the president can make whatever they want their reality for that year. We have had presidents who really did a good job at marketing and letting students know what the student union does, some did a good job at a lot of creative activities, and for me — if you were to narrow every president down to one specific thing — my thing would be reworking, this year, on the internal side of things.”
Debly focuses on the continuity of the organisation and the importance of policy making as president.
“Focusing on the governance side of things, organisational practices, transitions, and because of that, I’ll probably be the worst president the students have ever seen but the best one the SRC has ever had, it is kind of a catch-22 I guess.”
Why did you decide to run in the SRC election?
Debly had a difficult time answering this question. He was the only one to run in the SRC executive election in the spring of 2022. He explained, “. . . there was no one particular reason, personal growth and, maybe, ego.”
“I guess some people have a motive coming into it, but for me, I went three years without doing anything, whether that was my fault or COVID or a disinterest on my part, I honestly don’t know what the reasons were for my not doing anything, but I wanted to do a major course correction with that.”
He highlighted the pleasures of the experience he’s gained through work with committees, the board of governors, the senate, and the board of directors at NBSA.
“I felt like everyone has a degree but not too many people can put this beside their name (laughs) and, of course, all the awesome stuff that comes with it.”
What do you like most about your job, and what is something unexpected that came from it?
Debly expressed his interest in speaking to students, faculty, and staff on campus, and the creative aspect of his job.
“I’ve never had, and many people never will have, a job or be in a setting or whatever where they can think something and then have it come to life. I think I’m really, really fortunate to have that, and it’s something that I will definitely take with me in the future years to come.”
Throughout his time as SRC president, he’s found a personal love of politics which was unexpected.
” . . . every meeting I go to, I learn something new, and these people I’m sitting across from at a conference room table, a zoom call, or whatever are all experienced professionals in what they do. They know every detail, every aspect of it and have it down to a science and you, a student, are expected to keep up with these people, ask similar questions, you know.”
A typical day for Debly consists of emails and responding to his communications; he also spends much of his time working on various policy projects.
What have you done so far?
One of the points of focus this year for Debly was long-term marketing to deliver to first-year students. He has spent a lot of time behind the scenes with policies and working with the province on cancelling NB-EI Connect.
“A lot of my efforts are spread very thin, and there is not one big thing that I can point to and say I did that yet. But, if you look at the little changes within the university, we can be found in almost all of them . . . I am personally focusing on the internal, and students don’t see that as much.”
“If you asked me when I first got this job, I think my goals would be drastically different than my answer now. Now that reality has set in, I’ve realized my goals this year won’t be externally focused, they’ll be super internally focused, so streamlining transition processes and responsibilities, making everything run smoother this year, basically reworking operations and obviously, students won’t like that this year but for the next ten years they’ll appreciate it.”
What role does policy play within the SRC?
The SRC does not control UNB policy. Debly discussed this with examples of the masking policies and the implementation of the new smoking policy.
Debly’s focus is on strengthening the internal facets of the SRC. He has created a list of 15 policies he seeks to develop over his term, “my ideal future for the SRC involves organizational integrity, proper governance, and all those internal political words you won’t care about.”
“Although the students’ opinions matter a lot, and it’s what makes this job, the people I hope to impress are the next president and the president after that. I want others to have easier years to come. The value of a student union is in advocacy, services, events, and stronger organizational governance can lead to more time in the future dedicated to that.”
What do you wish students knew about the SRC, and how can they get involved?
“There are many ways; there are clubs and societies, whether you’re the president or just coming in for the first year. Those are probably the most accessible ways. Then you have advocacy week, committees, hiring, volunteering, clubs, and societies.”
Debly expressed his wish that students knew that not only the SRC exists, but that it is a separate entity from UNB.
“We are an independent organization from UNB, not a faculty or department, which has its advantages and disadvantages. But at the same time, even without that, we are still very efficient.”
Devin’s office hours are posted outside the SRC office and are: Monday and Wednesday, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. and then Tuesday, Thursday Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.