By: Jessica Robinson, Editor-in-Chief
You might know him as the Vice President of Student Life at the SGA; the President of the History Society; the President of the Incontri Italian Club; a former Lambda reporter, CKLU radio host, or ConEd student; or maybe you know him as Daniel.
Daniel Melchior is many things, but more than anything, he is someone who has spent his years at Laurentian being as involved as possible.
“I think that’s just the way I am,” he laughed. “It was like that in high school, too.”
Melchior has no doubt that being this has been a major shaping force throughout his university experience.
“It teaches you to multitask,” he said. “Being able to do all your assignments, and then do a lot more on top of that, is stressful in so many different ways. But it also gives you a fuller university experience. As VP of Student Life, I was able to communicate that to students: like, go join a club.”
Melchior’s key to achieving work life balance was clear cut: “Use a list. A lot of people can attest to it; I had lists everywhere. Sticky notes absolutely everywhere. I had a list for all of my academics, then a list for my work stuff, then a list for my volunteer stuff. Then I had sticky notes about random thoughts, placed anywhere. And then I had one big master list, that included absolutely everything I had to do, so that if I lost one of my lists, I could go back to the master.”
Learning time management was the most important thing. “When you get to university, it’s baptism by fire,” Melchior said. “You get there, and suddenly you have ten thousand things due at once, and you have to be able to get through it all.”
Part of being at the core of student life is following the growth and development of the institution over time, which meant Melchior had a front row seat to shifts at Laurentian.
“I’ve seen a lot in the five years I’ve been here,” Melchior said. “In the two years I served as Vice President [of Student Life], I saw a lot of changes in advocacy. I saw the university take a better stance when it came to listening to what the students were actually saying, especially with LGBTQ concerns, mental health concerns. They are actually sitting down and saying, okay what’s wrong? How can we fix this?”
“I’ve also seen a lot of things disappear, which is always sad; I’ve seen events not have the attendance [necessary to run], really great events that were longstanding. I’ve seen clubs disappear; I’ve seen places like the student centre disappear,” he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of that go, and it’s part of our job as students and as advocates to stand up and make sure we protect what is importance to us.”
It’s no secret that the school has been struggling with student engagement at events the past year.
“It’s a tricky situation because students want a certain thing, and often we can’t give them exactly that. They want this party, and I’d have to say, I can’t give you that kind of party, but I can try and get as close as possible,” Melchior explained.
“It’s a fine line between what students want and what they need. And that’s the advice I give to the future SGA exec and any admin staff at Laurentian: you need to balance giving the students what they want, in terms of events and musical acts and speakers, but also keeping in mind what they need.”
“Students aren’t necessarily going to be standing up for their mental health needs, but someone needs to. We as a school need help with mental health resources, but not everyone is going to be actively pushing for that; someone is always going to be advocating for something else. But people with some level of power and [ability to make] change need to be able to say, this is what the students need, instead of just giving them what they want,” he said.
In fact, striking that balance between student wants and student needs was one of the hardest parts of Melchior’s jobs in the last few years.
“Another difficulty was dealing with mental health issues on campus; that was my desire, to make sure everything was set up [in that area] before I left,” he said. “Dominic [Giroux] and I talked on Twitter about the advances that have been made on campus, but I still regret that I couldn’t do more in my time here.”
“I know the absolute hardest thing now is saying goodbye. It hit me hard, because of the blood, sweat, and tears I’ve put into this place. I don’t know how to say goodbye. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
But the attachment to Laurentian is what makes the experience so rewarding, even if it is harder to leave because of it.
“The most rewarding thing has been seeing students enjoy their time here. It’s nothing that we did, nothing that we’ve ever offered or given the students in particular—it’s just seeing them be happy,” Melchior said. “Whether they’re in class or at an event we’ve given them, you see them be happy with their choice to come to Laurentian, and be proud of their place of study.”
Now, Melchior moves on, to teaching and leading students in a different capacity.
“I always have my dream of doing my masters and my doctorate, so that’s still on the back burner; but as of right now I’m going on to be teaching internationally, probably in the UK, though I also have prospects in Egypt and in Italy,” Melchior said. “I’ll be doing the work I do best: inspiring students.”
Photos by Jessica Robinson.