Humans of USMC: Joey Gratkowski

Humans of USMC: Joey Gratkowski


Photo: Ethan Deneault / THE MIKE

Joey Gratkowski is a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto studying English. He is also this year’s St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) Vice-President.

What inspired you to run to be Vice-President of SMCSU?

Well, I always have loved the [University of St. Michael’s College (USMC)] community. It has had a big role in who I interact with on a daily basis; it’s a community that has shaped my whole undergrad experience. When I was running for the office of Vice-President I wanted to make a difference in how the union serviced the members of my community. While I felt more than capable of fulfilling the office, I felt the role needed something more. Because of the dismantling and reimagining of SMCSU, there was a lack of presence that prior SMCSUs had that I felt was crucial to the culture of USMC. I felt I could help return that presence and get people more involved at USMC.

What is it like being the Vice-President of SMCSU? What sort of responsibilities do you fulfill? 

My role, constitutionally, is to be the internal moderator of the Council and provide the President assistance whenever they require it. So, this means that I organize and chair our SMCSU meetings, I draft constitution/by-law amendments, I help moderate SMCSU council disputes, I sit on college council meetings as well as meetings with admin of all sorts, and I also assist any Council member if they require it. In practice, Kate Strazds (the President) and I have sort of divvied up our responsibilities this year. We made our positions kind of like hybrids of each other. We still have very separate and distinct roles, we just both agreed it would be the best way to do both our jobs because we work so well together.

Outside of school, what are a couple hobbies that you have?

I would like to say that USMC has not infiltrated every part of my life, but it kind of has. I am a member of the board game club at USMC, Pair-a-Dice. I enjoy games of all kinds, and I enjoy them more with friends, so that has been wonderful. I also was a member of USMC’s inner tube water polo team which was a blast. Most things I do for fun are USMC-related though.

How has getting involved at the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s College affected your undergraduate experience?

Other than the friends, fun times, and sense of community getting involved at USMC has given me, once I really got involved, my grades significantly improved. While I do not have proof that getting involved will improve your grades, I will say it forces you to organize your time better and incentivizes you to be a better member of your community. Which, even if they don’t improve your grades, are great qualities to have! I think everyone should get involved in any capacity that interests them. I honestly believe getting involved is crucial to having a fulfilling overall undergrad experience; it’s an investment in your well-being as a person!

Any advice for students looking to run in the election for a position this year?

Some general advice would be to not be afraid of campaigning hard. If you really want the position, it will show, and people will vote for you. This doesn’t mean just making posters and a Facebook page, this means going up to people you’ve never spoken to before and introducing yourself. The face-to-face interaction with people is what really shows them the kind of person you are.