Aidan Hibma began his political career with a defeat. Now, he is the President of the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) and an advocate for the students he represents. Having built his platform from the ground up, Hibma believes he is ready to tackle the foundation of BUSU.
“I think when I first became involved in BUSU, [I] was in my second year. I ran for the position of Board of Directors. I lost by 50 votes,” said Hibma. “That, for me, was the first signal that I needed to learn more about the organization before the students would trust me with such an important role.”
Hibma was successful in his second attempt running for a spot on the Board of Directors. From there, he was internally promoted to the Vice-Chair of the Board. The next step for Hibma was to move into a BUSU executive position, winning the election to become the Vice President, Finance and Administration (VPFA) for the 2017-18 year.
“What that role really taught me was how long certain initiatives can take due to the bureaucratic nature that is Brock University as a post-secondary institution. It showed me that time flies and if you want to get things done, you really do need more than a year,” said Hibma. “It also gave me a great understanding of how our finances work as an organization. It taught me that we adhere to different provincially mandated laws, as we are a non-for-profit. It also helped me build the relationships needed to foster an environment of success internal to Brock,.”
This focus on relationship-building and community success is a common thread in Hibma’s plans for the year, and as the President plans for the future of BUSU.
“The primary role of the president is to provide leadership and direction, more so from a broad oversight perspective,” said Hibma. “What I’ve really noticed about this role in comparison to my role last year is it is a lot more political in the sense of setting those directions, making sure you’re at all of the university events, and that you’re working hand in hand with the various councilors and mayors of the municipalities that comprise the Niagara region,” said Hibma.
“It’s a lot of committee work and trying to be the face of the organization while supporting my vice presidents and all of the staff at BUSU to make sure they are able to achieve their platform points and go above and beyond them. In addition, I do have my own platform points that I ran on, though I think a big difference is that the president needs to focus on the long-term, where the organization is going to be five years from now, where we want it to be, and how I can use my time in office to help us get there.”
In terms of success criteria, Hibma’s focus remains on the student experience and the team seeking to optimize it.
“For myself, it starts with the students,” said Hibma. “To break it down even further, success would then be measured by ensuring that my team is meeting their goals and objectives, because if they are doing that then they are contributing to that experience and creating and cultivating that culture. It always starts with the students and through our team we can help administer that.”
Hibma’s focus on student needs and concerns was further developed during his time with the fraternity, Zeta Psi. Though he is no longer an active member, he cites the fraternity as having refined his leadership abilities.
“What I can tell you they helped prepare me for is the importance of going above and beyond, of ensuring you’re treating everyone else the way that you want to be treated, and that just because you’re in a position of ‘power’ that really doesn’t mean anything. You need to lead through example. Its one thing to ask volunteers to clean up after an O-Week event or to tell students to come out to a philanthropic or sports event, and it’s another to walk the walk and talk the talk. In addition to that, it helped me develop an appreciation for the greater Niagara community with regards to how BUSU can support various philanthropic initiatives, such as Trick or Eat,” said Hibma. “They helped me gain perspective on how I should act when in a position such as this.”
Almost a month into the new academic year and five months into the position, Hibma and BUSU continue to look forward with a long-term approach to the university and the Students’ Union.